Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bi and over 50 7: Butch

Here’s the latest in the series of email interviews with bisexual people over 50. Thanks to everyone for your support and interest. There will be a short break between the publication of this interview and any others – I want to write a couple of more general posts that feature my own thoughts on bisexuality and ageing.

As before, the questions in bold are written by me, everything else by the interviewee concerned.


Call me Butch. I am 51 years old. I am a white bisexual queer woman, and I present as butch. I am a college-educated creative who worked in publishing for many years, and currently works in the public sector. I live in the New England region of the USA, and have been married to a hetero cis-male for 18 years. We have a young child together, who is our biological offspring created the old-fashioned way!

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?

I realized when I was 14 that I was attracted to both binary sexes in a very fluid way. I heard the term "bisexual" in my twenties, and knew it was me. Over the years, my attraction has remained fluid, although my preference will settle for fairly long periods of time on one side of the gender binary, yet even so the attraction to the other side of the gender binary remains. I am attracted to female-bodied queer women, and male-bodied hetero men. I have had no experience with transitioned individuals with regard to relationships.

What does being bisexual mean to you?

For me, it means having the ability to love both men and women, sometimes at the same time. That is the perceived dirty little secret about being bisexual - the ability to love two people of differing genders at the same time. Personally, I find it liberating, amazing, and utterly natural. I think that many in the bisexual community regard the existence of polyamorous bisexuals as counterproductive to the task of giving legitimacy and respect to the term "bisexual," but I'm not the only one out here in the world.

Has this changed over the years, and if so how?

I was strictly monogamous when I was younger. But now I have a secondary relationship with a queer woman who is also hetero-married. I was fully open about my bisexual orientation with my husband-to-be, although I thought at the time I would remain monogamous indefinitely. My husband remains my primary partner and I am devoted to him.

As I aged, it became impossible for me to suppress my version of bisexuality (in which there are two partners of differing genders), and both my physical and mental health eroded severely. In order to stay a sane and a productive member of society, and to hold at bay the overwhelming depression that was pervading my life, I opened up my personal ethics to include limited polyamory. All parties involved are aware of each other's presence. I have no more than one partner of my two preferred genders, and STI testing was done before initiating a relationship outside my marriage and required of my proposed female partner.

My secondary relationship is kept private to all but my husband and a few of the closest people in my life; my secondary partner also keeps the relationship private in the same way. We are each well-known in our community, and it would cause some serious ripples, both personal and professional, if the true manner of things was revealed. To the world, she and I present merely as very good friends. Do we hate that it has to be that way? Yes. But society is not yet ready to openly accept polyamory, even in this very liberal part of the country.

What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?

When folks meet me, I'm sure it is pretty obvious that I am not straight. I present as butch, and I have a decided butch headspace. There have been times when I passed for straight, mainly for a previous job and when I was not feeling good about myself, but mostly I've looked fairly obviously queer. I have never hidden the fact that I'm not straight and when asked if I am a lesbian I have responded firmly that I am bisexual, although my being married to a hetero male has confused a good many people. I came out to my siblings early in 2014, and I was surprised that they were surprised. I guess my marriage to a man threw them.

When I was 20, my mom figured out I was not straight (I was with another woman during that time) and she outright rejected me. Those were very dark days of my life. She was the only parent I had, and she didn't talk to me for a long time. I think it wasn't until I was dating a guy in my mid-twenties that she felt comfortable around me. Last week, I came out to my mom, again. She is 81 and has dementia. Her reaction was completely different than her reaction 30 years ago. It was nice to be accepted by her at last for what I am. It was a long time in coming, with many tears along the way.

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

I wish I had recognized my potential need for polyamory before I was married. Revealing it to my husband 18 years into the marriage was very rough on both of us, but most of all on him. He is an incredible person, and is re-learning to accept me for who and what I am.

What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?

I can only hope that bisexuality, in all its permutations, will gain the wide acceptance it deserves in the greater LGBTQIA community. We are not even close to there, yet. The louder we are, the more we will be heard.

Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?

Be who you are, despite all obstacles real and perceived. Be out, and be proud. Be loud in your LGBTQIA community. Find other bisexuals and be there for each other. Everyone probably knows at least one bisexual already, but they are often hidden. If you stand up as an example of bisexual pride, it will give others the courage to stand up, too. Be brave, and be kind to yourself. You are amazing, at any age!

Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

I am looking for other individuals over 50 who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Butch has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

People of colour, people over 60, trans people, and people who are outside of the USA are particularly encouraged to get in touch.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information and your views, i found it very interesting. This is happening to me now and whilst i feel a little more free i also have dark days when i feel terrible.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts, it seems i have at least in part decided to deal with my issues now, albeit a little late at 54. Your comments have encouraged me to think more and write things down.