In the cover story of Vogue’s July issue in 2015, supermodel-turned-actress Cara Delevingne shook the senses of her fans as she came out as bisexual—you know, fans like girls who’ve long idolized her and her eyebrows and guys who’ve wished they were Q Jacobsen making out with her in Paper Towns. Cara also admitted dating singer Annie Clark (a.k.a. the ethereal singer-songwriter St. Vincent), which she said developed in spite of her mother’s disapproval.
“I think that being in love with my girlfriend is a big part of why I’m feeling so happy with who I am these days,” she revealed.
It was an admission that attempted to send a more powerful message across. Cara tried to point out the bigotry that still runs rampant against—and even within—the LGBT community. The 23-year-old star is clearly bisexual, yet is still one obviously against labels. In fact, her Instagram profile reads, “Don't worry, be happy… Embrace your weirdness… STOP LABELLING, START LIVING.” There goes a strong-ass woman who’s got something to say about LGBT-leering!
This generation is one obsessed with labels, that’s already a given. In psychology, it’s said that we use labels to make sense of things. That’s from the dogs we pet to the kinds of tops we decide to wear, down to the genders we identify ourselves with—these are all social constructs that help us understand the world better. In a world of labels, sexual orientations span a spectrum of gay, lesbians, transsexuals, pansexuals, and so on. The bisexuals like Cara, though, are those who get the most question marks popping over many (close-minded) people’s heads. Despite the many names out there, it’s a big, fat truth that some of us don’t like labels, more so now, you know, in an age when #LoveWins is supposedly a thing.
A Google search would define bisexuality as having both same-sex attraction and different-sex attraction. Scrolling down a little bit more would show links to sites that counter this and argue that the “bi” in bisexuality refers to both forming sexual relationships with someone of the same gender and that of some other gender.
It even gets more confusing when the results are filtered and the nature of attraction—whether romantic, emotional, or sexual—is factored in. With this number of definitions, however, you’d think: there’s no Boolean logic behind sexuality. Bisexuality challenges the way humans make sense of the world and questions our obsession with categories. It breaks the notion that a young man or woman can’t be gray and happy in a black-and-white world.
The Love Bis Deserve
Cara’s internet-breaking revelation also put the spotlight on one of the problems that the bisexual community is currently facing: invisibility. In a survey conducted by the University of Pittsburgh in 2013, it was found that straight men and women’s attitudes towards bisexuality were mostly negative. More surprisingly, the response of gays and lesbians was not so different. Now, that’s being marginalized within a marginalized community.
Somewhere over the rainbow, bis apparently can’t fly. This invisibility gave Huffington Post contributor Eliel Cruz a reason to claim bisexuality as a label, despite the lack of a universal definition. In an Advocate article, he said that claiming bisexuality also honors the legacy of bisexual activists like Brenda Howard, known as the Mother of Pride for co-organizing the world’s first LGBT Pride March.
Bisexuals do exist, and Google’s overwhelming number of definitions is more than enough to attest to that. More important, these search results present a diversity of points of view that brings to the fore a truth about understanding bisexuality: your identity or sexual orientation cannot be defined by anyone else but you. Psychologist and Bisexuality Studies scholar Tania Israel said it best in her TEDxUCLA talk, “Whether or not you consider yourself bisexual is up to you because you know yourself best—and how you identify is a personal choice.”
Original article by Chino Testado. Additional text and research by Shekinah Viernes. Illustration by Mawee Borromeo. Check out more exciting stories in the latest issue of CHALK, now out in major bookstores. CHALK is available in bookstores and on newsstands for P100. Download the CHALK Magazine app for access to all digital editions on your tablet or smartphone, available in Zinio, and Buqo Digital Newsstands. Like CHALK on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@ChalkMagazine).
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