A reflection from within the LGBTQ community

Allies can meaningfully support our growing identities

When people find out that I identify as bisexual, it’s not unusual for them to respond, “I wish I were bisexual! That would make life so much easier. Twice the choices!”

Being bisexual does not make life easier. It is not a convenience, and it does not double my chances for love. In fact, it reduces them. Drastically. And it also reduces my chances for self-love and acceptance. In fact, my bisexual identity has consistently strained my familial and romantic relationships, and challenged me to love myself throughout the hardships I’ve endured.

As a bisexual woman, I’ve navigated the years of confusion, self-doubt, and anxiety associated with understanding and accepting my sexual orientation. I went through the heart-wrenching process of confiding in my loved ones, one by one. Some immediately accepted me. Others responded with disbelief, arguing that I was wrong and that I could not possibly know I was bisexual without first having sex with a woman. Others scolded me, declaring that my sexuality was not something I should go around proclaiming. Their consistent denial of my lived experience fueled my self-doubt and eroded my sense of self-worth.

I then felt the growing pains of exploring my own identity, facing rejection from some members in the LGBTQ community and doubting my identity in the face of biphobia. Many men I met fetishized me until they realized my capacity for real, emotional love with women. Then they rejected me, sure that I would eventually leave them for someone of the opposite sex. Others incorrectly assumed that one partner would never be enough for me, then fled, intimidated. Various lesbian friends classified me as a gay cop-out, as if the issue was my unwillingness to face the “full” stigma of homosexuality. Or they argued that I only expressed interest in women for attention. They were disappointed by the presence of men in my romantic life. Paradoxically, I was neither gay enough nor straight enough to be loved and trusted by many of the people in my life.

Even worse, I went on to endure slut-shaming and the verbal and emotional abuse to which bisexual women are often subjected. The introspective and spiritually satisfying exploration of my recently-realized identity was reduced to some version of a Girls Gone Wild story. Male friends I had entrusted with my identity made jokes behind my back. I was hypersexualized, dehumanized, and shamed. The derision I faced in response to my intimate decisions derailed my path to self-acceptance.


I had always felt that MIT encouraged authenticity and was a place where unique interests and accomplishments were celebrated: a safe-haven for “nerds.” I didn’t realize the capacity of this community to embrace and nurture such an intimate aspect of my identity — it simply seemed too much to expect. But the same community of peers who celebrated my academic successes poured their emotional energy into standing by me as I worked to make sense of my identity. I had struggled for so long, unaware that I could confide in the community I called home. The previously untapped love and acceptance that I found pushed me to love and accept myself.

Today, as a more resilient and confident bisexual woman, I am proud of my capacity for love. I never would have thought that a community of straight people who could not empathize with my experience could serve as my rock. I hope to remind straight members of the MIT community that you are not excluded from the LGBTQ community. Stand by our sides as we learn to embrace ourselves and help others to accept themselves. Though you have never experienced life as an LGBTQ person, you can show us loyalty, love, and friendship when the world around us starts to crumble. We live on a fault line, and our lives are sure to be shaky at times. As an ally, you can hold us, pick us up, or at least lie with us on the ground until the earth stops shaking.

Dana Vigue is a member of the Class of 2017.