- She swung her legs and crossed them over each other—awkward knees and bones at right angles. She was perched on the smooth bar atop the wire fence that marked our school’s perimeter, with those legs dancing. I listened to her sing the Spice Girls while chewing a fruit roll-up.
Without meaning to or comprehending my body’s movements, I leaned in to kiss her mid-sentence, mouth full of gelatine. She stopped talking, and her mouth closed. I froze just shy of our lips meeting, and jumped back.
- I’m staying at my aunt and uncle’s, and we’re all watching the Sunday movie. On the screen Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey are under the covers, making flesh the sexual lives of their fantasy characters. I cross and uncross my legs. Through the bloody scene of a skull cracking under the weight of a pantyhose-swaddled brick, I am replaying their wet kisses.
I go to the spare bedroom early, claiming to be tired.
I slide my hand under the band of my floral, cotton underwear. I have no idea what I’m doing, but my heart is beating in my ears and I know I need to try. My first foray into masturbation ends in frustration — I’m 11, and don’t know what a clitoris is let alone how to find one.
- I eventually perfect masturbation and furtive internet porn viewing. I learn what I like—girls, dicks, both at the same time. Outside of porn, I tell myself, I only like boys. I get intwined in a six year relationship with one. We fall in love, but we don’t like each other.
- We break up, finally. I search for one-night-stands on Tinder. The app asks who I’m searching for: females or males, or both. My selection surprises me.
I accidentally fall in love with another boy.
I reluctantly tell him about a ‘new’ development in my sexuality, and a week later I meet a beautiful stranger in her parents’ art deco apartment. We fuck, and it’s good. I come home to my boyfriend. We fuck the next morning, and it’s good.
I relate the sordid details of that and a few other Tinder trysts to a coworker and she asks if I’d consider myself straight. I say “I guess not?”
- A girl I try to talk to the first and last time I brave a lesbian club night says, eyes rolling, that I’m “so bi”. Even though I know she means it as an insult—as a synonym for ‘flighty’, or ‘slut’, or a means to call out my attire as overly-femme— I feel something nice and weighty behind the shame and burning anxiety. I wonder when, or if, I’m allowed to call myself that. Is there a quota I need to surpass? Do I need to learn to navigate a vulva that isn’t my own satisfactorily without the detailed guidance and moral support of the other party, or be in a monogamous relationship with a woman?
Eventually, I get to know that I am bi. Or pan. Or one of those Malcolm-in-the-middle sexualities people on either side like to pretend don’t exist. I know I exist. But I don’t tell anyone else. I worry my casual sex and ‘straight’ relationship make me illegitimate. I worry about being seen as a slut, or a ridiculous fraud —not a true representative of the ‘B’ in the rainbow alphabet soup. My coworker drunkenly ‘outs’ me at after-work drinks and it feels like I’m dipping my toes into the winter ocean, and I enjoy the tingling sensation.
When I trace the moments of my sexual history, I can see the white lies and half-truths I told myself to make the straight narrative fit. And I know I can’t keep hiding it forever, even if my bisexual narrative doesn’t tell a story anyone wants to hear.
My story might not make me a poster child for Bi pride, but it’s mine. And I’m proud of that.
Marigold Jones, 25, is pseudonymous Brisbane writer who likes animals and keeping her job despite ranting and swearing all over the internet.