As a person from a religious background, my initial reaction to the title of this book was a mixture of intrigue and defiance. I was raised to be god-fearing, as most young Carribbean children are and the doctrinal principles of my formative years were centered around love and acceptance of one’s fellow man, but also taught that a queer lifestyle could not fully align itself with ‘godly standards,’ hence that initial feeling of defiance. But as a person who has also struggled with their own sexuality, in terms of defining it and coming to terms with it, I also felt a sense of intrigue.
I first came across this book through an Instagram Liveshow that was hosted by Jaz from Travels in Fiction and Sophie from The Little Contemporary Corner and it was a truly wonderful discussion that impelled me to procure the book and read it speedily afterwards. Incidentally, I finished it on National Coming Out Day on Sunday 11th of October.
The Bi-ble is a collection of essays written by an extremely diverse cast of bi/pan and queer individuals. Their narratives represent a wide variety of perspectives and personal experiences, but there was one thing all the narratives seemed to agree on; they all conveyed a shared feeling of isolation and erasure within the very community that they are meant to be a part of, namely the LGBTQ+ community.
Regardless of where each essayist sits on the bisexuality spectrum, be it a cisgender bisexual white woman or a non-binary bisexual or a pansexual black man, their experiences all reflect a larger issue of having one’s sexual identity diminished, marginalised or written off as just a stepping stone to being gay and therefore not valid. These individuals will be more likely to struggle with ‘coming out’ and feel more susceptible to some form of mental illness, a result of the alienation they feel.
I loved every single essay in this book and I especially appreciated the intersectional approach it took, expanding on the added forms of discrimination people face because of social factors other than sexuality i.e. race. Such chapters as Going Either Way by Chitra Ramaswamy and On Being Black And Bi-furious by Jayna Tavarez, carried a lot of weight with me personally.
It is precisely this feeling of alienation and self-doubt that has hindered me from being fully accepting of my sexual identity. I had many crushes at school from secondary school into Sixth Form and some of those crushes were girl crushes, yet I’ve always managed to perpetuate the idea that I am ‘mostly straight’ and not ‘fully bi’ as though adopting the former title enables me to hold onto some semblance of a heteronormative life. Because having the appearance of being heterosexual or ‘normal’ or ‘godly’ absolves a person from the condemnation, ridicule and judgement of those around them. In that sense, this book was quite a cathartic read for me.
The Bi-ble is an extensive, all-encompassing look at bisexuality, from intersectionality to mental health to bi history and pop-culture to bi and queer sex. It conveys a level of insight and intimacy that was deeply impactful, and gives a much needed platform to a stigmatised community, enabling them to voice the validity of their personal experience.
Where to find useful information and support about Bisexuality;
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