I am a couple of weeks late for Bisexual Visibility Week, but I'm gonna write about bisexuality anyway. I don't think the point of the week was to have us all re-cloak when it was over.
I don't think it's a secret that I am bisexual*. I mention it now and again. I am, in some ways, perfectly comfortable with my sexuality.
But I noticed, during Bisexual Visibility Week, that I was not that comfortable about participating in it. For reasons that mostly boil down to "this is for Real Bisexual People, not you." It's weird to feel that way, after so long thinking I'd finally gotten over being defensive about my sexual orientation. But it bleeds into other things, too.
Ardent, the female protagonist of The Moon Etherium, is bisexual. At the start of the book, she's not in a relationship. Over the course of the book, she almost hooks up again with her ex-wife, and ultimately becomes romantically involved with the male protagonist.
Amazon asks for up to seven keywords for every book, and it's a good idea to use all seven because keywords are one of the main ways for readers to discover your book. One of the keywords for The Moon Etherium is "bisexual". Amazon chose to put it in two LGBT subcategories (one for fantasy and one for romance) and the Romance > Multicultural subcategory. I don't know what algorithm Amazon uses to figure out the subcategories to use; if I controlled it, I'd've listed it in three fantasy categories, not one fantasy and two romance.
Anyway, I find myself uncomfortable with having The Moon Etherium listed as an LGBT book. Sure, it's got a bisexual protagonist and, for that matter, nonbinary supporting cast members. But is that really what LGBT readers are looking for? Aren't they looking for MM or FF pairings? Perhaps MMF or MFF triads? Isn't that last the only way to be really bisexual? Because everyone knows monogamous people can't really be bi. They're actually hetero- or homosexual, depending on their partner's gender.
You don't need to tell me those last three sentences are BS. I know perfectly well that's garbage. I mean, intellectually, I know that. Emotionally, part of me believes that sexual behavior dictates sexual preference. Unless you're straight, of course. You can identify as straight without having dated anyone. That's fine. But if you identify as bi or gay, you have to prove that, by having sex with members of every gender you claim to be attracted to. No, no, just knowing that you're attracted to them isn't enough. And it doesn't count if you've only had sex with that gender as part of a threesome with someone of another gender. You might just like threesomes or something. And really, do one-night stands count? Or a short term fling? Honestly, if you were a real bisexual you'd have both male and female long-term partners. (We'll let you off the hook for finding nb ones. Maybe.)
For each "you" in that last paragraph, substitute "I", because I would never have the unmitigated gall to spew such hateful rubbish to anyone but myself.
I am so very tired of thinking these things about myself, but I do. Among my past and current lovers are ciswomen, transwomen, cismen, and nonbinary people, and my mind still thinks "you're just faking it". Really, brain? I'm 46. I realized I was bisexual over twenty years ago. Can we stop having this conversation yet? Can we at least not have it about my fictional characters? Can I at least classify Ardent as really bi even though she's not currently in a relationship with both a man and a woman?
I think part of why I wrote Ardent this way was, perhaps, to grapple with my internalized "fake bisexual girl" feelings. "Here, she was married for decades to a woman and now she's seeing a man and her sexual interest is just not tied to gender and she doesn't have to prove this to anyone". Maybe I thought I could fight for her in the way that I have not been able to fight myself.
I don't know if I can.
But I haven't taken the "bisexual" label off the book yet.
* I like the word "pansexual" better than "bisexual", all things considered. I am attracted to cis, trans, and nonbinary people of all genders, and I like the way the root "pan" suggests expansiveness. But bisexual is the more widely recognized term and most people seem to understand it as inclusive. I'm pretty happy to revisit using the label if people have arguments against it, though.