My sexual orientation has never been clear-cut.
I insisted on my bisexuality, despite two lesbian relationships and four homoerotic years at a Catholic all-girls high school where our favorite pastime was having sex between the church pews. I saved dates and hookups with boys for the summer and sneaked around with girls during the school year. Never did I imagine that leaving home and coming to a public university would allow me to “double-dip” into my two worlds: my gay and straight identities.
I dated two girls my freshman year at UC Berkeley. Both were long distance, and both inevitably ended in heartbreak. I desperately needed to escape my feelings, and the campus’s party and hookup scene was the ideal environment for my heedless exploration. And so, sophomore year started off as innocently as it could have been.
As excited as I was to go back to in-person school, I was distracted by the seven-day bender I went on — seven days of parties and promiscuity. The back-to-school routine was simple: It was the shift from sunscreen to lube; bathing suits to lingerie; and summer jobs to blowjobs. I entered into this new sex life head-on and in full transparency, playing around with feelings with no strings attached. I was mastering Berkeley’s sex code, casting myself as the main character in what I will tastefully refer to as the 50 shades of blue and gold.
I am bisexual, and it’s invigorating: It maximizes my opportunities for success. I know how to cater to my audience, appealing to men’s pride and conversing with women’s emotions — sometimes doing both in one night. Some call it slutty, but I much prefer the term “sexually liberated.”
Before this year, I always thought to keep those parts of myself separate, reserving time for myself to swoon over guys and obsess over girls, never allowing them to overlap. My life at an all-girls school, where I discovered my interest in women, never intersected with the heteronormative identity I had reserved for the weekends. College made things a lot more complicated as I left my sexually liberated feminine utopia for frat basements.
UC Berkeley’s hookup culture, I discovered, is seething with jaded emotions and the common procedure of attraction to intimacy and finally, to the slow but inevitable burnout. And while I too experienced the ebb and flow of crushes and sexual exploration, I began to recognize the harsh barrier that ran deeply through my identity, a designated side for frats and another section partitioned for my queerness like closed doors in the same house. I would convince myself that I had to be straight — and only straight — for the night. I would find a cute frat boy, oblivious to the cute girl I might find too.
It was not until day seven of our back-to-Berkeley bender that I discovered that I could both swoon over men and obsess over women all at once. One night, I had been spending a lot of time with my “friend” from home. The idea of a fresh start blurred the line between friend and hookup as he invited me upstairs to face the first obstacle between college students and sex: the ever-pervasive roommate. Tonight would be no different. In fact, both roommates had brought a girl back, and ironically enough, the other was a bisexual girl whom I had flirted with in the past.
As the boys communicated with winks and nods over who would be getting laid that night, I considered my attraction to the other girl in the room. With the initial motive to give the boys time to talk, I asked her to go to the ultimate location for woman-to-woman conversations: the frat bathroom.
We left the roommates, walked across the sticky frat floor, and shut the door. I didn’t even get any words out before we started making out, my overwhelmingly “straight” surroundings no longer aligning with what I wanted.
It wasn’t long before I left that bathroom and returned to the boy waiting for me, unphased by his messy bedsheets and LED lights; I was fascinated by my colliding identities and unmatched satisfaction. I was caught between my interest in the boy I followed upstairs and the girl I had found waiting at the top.
I realized I could be straight and gay in the same night, at the same time. I did not need to divide my sex life into straight or gay, and I don’t need to “act straight” in a straight environment. I embraced all the nuances of my attraction; I embraced all 50 shades of my own sexuality. Funnily enough, I figured all this out in a frat bathroom.