Stories Like Mine: The Need for Visible Bisexual Men by Vaneet Mehta

Coming out as bisexual at 24 was the end of an incredibly long and difficult journey. Since I was around 10, I had struggled with my sexuality on some level. I found myself having weird thoughts and feelings for the boys in my year and wasn’t sure what to make of it. I thought I was gay, but that didn’t explain why I was still having crushes on girls. Bisexual was not a word that had ever entered my vocabulary, I had simply never heard of it.

17 was the age that this changed. Someone at my school had come out as bicurious. Suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head, but this was quickly snuffed out. No one took her, nor this term, seriously. They all laughed, wondering why she didn’t just say her ‘true’ identity as a lesbian instead of ‘making up words’. And so, the idea of being bisexual evaporated. I couldn’t see this term as valid myself, let alone tell others of my feelings.

I felt pressured to choose a label and stick to it, to clear up the confusion inside my head. The only options available to me were gay and straight, a binary construct of sexuality was all I understood as valid. Society told me that gay was bad, not something you ever wanted to be. That it made you less of a man. I was already derided by my peers for my lack of masculinity, the last thing I wanted to do was add to this torment. So I picked straight.

I found ways to deny these feelings for men. I chalked it up to puberty, hormones that just needed to settle down. I told myself that I just wanted to be friends with them, that I aspired to be like them, to be athletic and attractive to women like they were. I thought that I was just curious about their bodies, and how my body was in comparison. I had never held any emotional or romantic feelings towards men, so the idea of being in a relationship with a man was easier to deny.

That is until I turned 24 and fell in love with my best friend, a man. I tried to continue to deny it, but the longer it went on, the more painful it became. I had run out of strategies and there was only one course of action left. Over the course of 2017, I slowly told the important people in my life. The conversation wasn’t always easy, but by the end of the year I had told all of my friends and family.

Writing was always a huge passion of mine, but due to my lack of self-esteem I never indulged with this passion. I started using my writing to express my views, thoughts and opinions. I chronicled my feelings and emotions, the pain I had experienced. Whilst I had come out to my close friends and family, there were a lot of people that didn’t know I was bisexual, all those Facebook friends that were completely unaware of my struggles. I decided that, through the power of writing, I could talk about my journey, my story of coming out. I published this on my blog the same day I went to Pride In London, my first pride being out and my first pride marching as well, and posted it on all my social media accounts, pulling that last band-aid off.

My story reached people, connected with people, in a way I never thought possible. I started to realise the power in stories like mine. Through my friend Joseph I found out about Monstrous Regiment and their anthology of bisexual stories, The Bi-ble. My friend Chay told me about the second volume and told me to submit my story, so I did. To my surprise, it got accepted.

As I spent more time in the LGBTQ+ community, I realised these spaces aren’t as safe as advertised. They were often dominated by cis white gay men, and as a bisexual Indian man I felt out of place. I discovered that I couldn’t talk on issues about race without being policed, both on my views and my tone. Talking about bisexuality often led to me being bombarded with questions, nearly everyone wanted to know more. They didn’t cater to the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum, let alone intersectional identities, making it difficult to exist in these spaces.

I knew I wasn’t alone on this. At the end of 2018, I discovered a film production company called Rainbow Films and started volunteering for them. To be in a room full of other queer people of colour was so incredible. To see people like me with the passion and drive to tell our stories was beautiful and rewarding.

Working with Rainbow Films helped me grow in so many ways. It allowed me the space to tell more of my story, the pain and struggles but also the joy. I found myself in more spaces made by and for queer people of colour. Spaces where we could embrace ourselves and celebrate our identity. I found bisexual run communities and bisexual people of colour, people like me. Suddenly, I felt not so alone. I felt whole. I felt like I was home.

With my time working with Rainbow Films, my platform started to grow in a way I never intended. My role started to change, moving from a simple member of the community to somewhat of a representative. I found myself writing for websites, speaking on panels and holding talks, all on bisexuality and being a queer person of colour. My following online grew and people started to almost look up to me.

It has, and continues to be, an incredibly rewarding experience. I realised just how much power there is in telling stories like mine. The way it can reach people and help them. I have had people come out after reading my work or tell me they feel validated in their attraction. I have been told how important it has been for them to see themselves reflected in a multitude of different ways.

The idea that someone like me, who only a few years ago was still in the closet, could have such an impact is ludicrous to me. But it fills me with immense joy to know I can help people, even one person, on their journey. I hope that I can continue to do this; to use my voice, my time, my energy and money within the community to talk about the issues bisexual people and queer people of colour face, to support those creating spaces and networks for people like me and help those that are struggling. It is with hope that the work I am currently undertaking, from the YouTube channel I co-founded to the book I am writing on bisexual men, that I can do exactly that and will touch the lives of even more people.

My name is Vaneet Mehta, pronouns He/Him, and I am an Indian bisexual man born and raised in Southall, West London. I work as a Software Engineer, but in my spare time I work within the LGBTQ+ community. I volunteer for Rainbow Films and Middlesex Pride and co-founded The AmBIssadors, a bisexual YouTube channel. I am also an avid writer, having been featured in GMFA, Metro UK, Unicorn Magazine and The Bi-ble Volume 2, a bisexual anthology. I created the #BisexualMenExist hashtag and am currently writing a book on bisexual men. Vaneet can be found on Twitter at @nintendomad888 and you can read more of his work here.

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