I only started calling myself bisexual a few weeks ago. This wasn’t the result of much agonising soul-searching and internal debate. I didn’t have to overcome years of heterosexual conditioning from conservative and ignorant parents, nor take courage and inspiration from Tom Daley or Ellen Degeneres. No, my parents are quite lovely, open-minded folk, quite apathetic as to who I date, and I figured out quite early on, with no strong feelings about it, that while I agreed that Aaron Samuels looked sexy with his hair pushed back, Gretchen Wieners did too.
Despite having fully accepted that I was attracted to both boys and girls by the time I arrived at university, I still didn’t feel quite justified in using the label ‘bisexual’ without having earned my stripes. I was no virgin, but for a large chunk of my high school career I had been burdened with the inconvenience of a perfectly nice boyfriend who I liked far too much at the time to break up with so I could ‘experiment with my sexuality’ – a phrase that I often pondered and aspired towards in my head with high seriousness, anticipating a very mature and urban period in my life with intellectual girls who wore glasses and we would have arthouse sex, but I guess I just never thought to plan exactly how I would meet these women. Which brings us to the pre-identification dilemma.
Somewhere around Hilary Term my nice boyfriend and I banana split. The metaphoric undoing of a phallic object is a nice little segue into my girl phase, no? I quickly set my sights on my college mother. Aside from wearing glasses, she was openly gay and within my social circle. These latter two preferences, based on a lack of gaydar or knowledge of the secret ways of Plush, narrowed my choice down to just her. The glasses were a bonus. She came along to our date not realising it was a date, and afterwards, in her room, I tried to push my face onto hers. She kissed me back for perhaps three minutes before gently pushing me off and explaining that this was a terrible idea (a sentiment I actually deep down agreed with), but as a consolation agreed to wingwoman me at Plush.
We went the next Friday and, with the help of her advice, I managed to pull a girl for the first time. Whether or not I enjoyed it seemed irrelevant to the higher goal of diversifying my sexual CV, so with determination and some Dutch courage I gave her head, naively reverting to the TV trope of spelling out the alphabet, which seemed to actually work. When she offered to return the favour I was too scared of the potential embarrassment of not orgasming with at least equal vigour, so I instead gave some excuse about being tired and took the stride of pride back to my own college, knowing I’d officially punched my ticket for the Pride parade. Job done.