Putting the I in Bi
Author: Matt Youngs
I find myself entering my seventh academic year at Loughborough, but my first as a staff member. My previous voluntary and sabbatical roles as a student and as a Loughborough Students’ Union staff member gave me experience in the world of equality, diversity, and inclusion; however, my new role as the Celebration and Awareness Lead for the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network is my first foray into a formal position in the LGBT+ world. Here at Loughborough, we are exceptionally fortunate to not only have a very active LGBT+ community, but also a supportive team of senior management who strive to champion the work of the Network to create an inclusive community for LGBT+ staff and allies. That is a source of comfort for me as someone relatively new to the LGBT+ ‘scene’. Today, during Bisexual Awareness Week, I just want to take a moment to talk about my experience of bisexuality and labels.
For many people, identifying with an LGBT+ label or identity can provide reassurance, confidence and community. Conversely, for me, there are very few occasions when I identify with a specific LGBT+ label or identity: something just doesn’t sit perfectly no matter which label or identity I try on for size. At the moment, as I continue to navigate the wonderful world of the LGBT+ community, I enjoy knowing that I sit somewhere on the sexuality spectrum, most likely in the bisexual space, but without have a real need to put a name to my attraction to people.
Because of not identifying with labels, I’ve never found myself ‘coming out’ to people (I wonder whether this is a ‘luxury’ of some people in bisexual relationships living in the UK?). It seems that I can refer to past relationships or my attitude to life in a way that doesn’t attempt to hide my sexuality but doesn’t make a clear declaration either (maybe similar to the privilege that straight people have when living their life?). I do wonder how this might change now that I’m heading into a work environment where many conversations involve discussions about partners, children or families: perhaps I’ll have to come out more if I enter a relationship with a same-gendered partner? But to be honest, I don’t mind at all whether people find out about my undefinable bisexual [ish] sexuality. I feel that some people will always find a reason to judge negatively (maybe because I’m allergic to eggs, wear glasses, or because I am left-handed – classic playground issues!), so trying not to care what others think has been a useful life skill for me to get used to even before I have come to better understand my sexuality.
So, from a new member of the LGBT+ Network and wider staff community, this Bisexual Awareness Week, if nothing else, I just wish to urge everyone to remember the words of Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and publicist, when you find out about someone’s sexuality (with or without a definitive label):
“the greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance”.
Matt Youngs is Celebration and Awareness Lead for the LGBT+ Staff Network, and a Graduate Management Trainee currently based in the Research & Enterprise Office.
Photo captured by Issie Bickerstaff (they/them); LGBT+ Officer, Loughborough Students’ Union
LGBT+ Staff network blog
Posts and articles from the Loughborough University LGBT+ staff network