Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Do my colleagues know I'm bi? Convergence of attitudes.

I can never tell how much people have picked up about my sexuality until my relationship with them reaches quite a high level of familiarity and intimacy. My close friends talk about my bisexuality as casually as I do, but the people that spring to mind are my colleagues. And I don't feel it right to just come out and ask them if they know about it.

I've worked casually part time at a theatre as a steward for almost three years now, since I was sixteen, and I think that my orientation is well established in the communal knowledge of me. However, I cannot be sure of this, for no one ever brings it up. And I don't mean in an obvious way, I mean in the way my friends do; if we're talking about relationships, referring to me about both possible genders of partner. My colleagues only talk of men, the opposite to me.

I presume that they are aware of my being not straight but they cannot be sure, for I have not used 'bi', 'bisexual', or 'bisexuality' in the presence of most of them, because it is unnecessary; I cannot be sure of their opinions of same-sex relations, plus I think it would put people on edge.

This is unfortunate, but true nevertheless. More so for bisexuals than gays and lesbians I think, because more people have come to terms with homosexuality than bisexuality, because at least they can relate to homosexuality as a polar opposite to heterosexuality, like the reverse of a coin. Bisexuals are like the coin spinning and not landing on a side. Hm, that's quite a good analogy really, in some ways at least.

So, they are afraid essentially. To step on toes, as if it's a sensitive subject, or of getting something wrong and offending me, like many people do around transgender people. And I'm not sure there's much I can do about it without being overly dramatic and coming off as egotistical.

But I don't think I do have to do anything. Because of the infrequency of my working there, and it not always being the same people, I am never going to have closer relationships with them than I do now I reckon. And it doesn't seem a problem; I have only noticed it because...well, I suppose it's almost like I myself am not quite come to terms with it.

Not that I doubt my feelings, or the reality of being bi. Just that, because I live in a heterosexist world, where I am and will always be the minority and different, I find it hard not to feel the same unease about it when talking to my colleagues, as if I agree that I am not normal.

But thinking about it, when I'm talking to my friends, or thinking about it alone now, I don't feel that unease. So I suppose it's not actually me; it's a subconscious reaction. I've studied a similar thing in language; it is human nature that when they meet someone different to them, and they want to be liked, they modify their language, accent and such, as well as behaviour, to seem more like the other person - say if a Scouse met a Cockney, and they wanted to become friends. The Scouse's accent would become less pronounced and they might use inflections and words that are more Cockney, and the Cockney's accent would be dampened, and they might use inflections and words that are more Scouse. It's called linguistic convergence.

I think that I am subconsciously taking on an artificial version of what I perceive to be other's attitudes towards my bisexuality, in a similar attempt to narrow the gap between our differences. And it is exacerbated by the fact that I don't even know how much they know.

Ah well.

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