Single and Bisexual

I’m a fifty-four-year-old Bisexual woman who attended the groundbreaking Single Women’s Workshop. I have been single all my life, except for a few three-year relationships. My last romantic relationship was seventeen years ago, and I’ve been solidly single since. Although it feels right for me to live this way, I have a confusing negative judgment about it. All to say, this was the workshop I’ve been waiting for!

The workshop brought me to think about the changes in the Queer community since I first “came out” in 1990. When I came out, I was living in a place with a thriving LBQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer) women’s community. I was also working at a women’s crisis center that was based on feminist philosophy, collectively run, and included many LBQ members. My life was full of individual female friendships, and groups of females who rejected patriarchy. We strongly valued women’s community and prioritizing each other and rejected the mainstream society’s valuing of the family unit. We were creating something new.

Of course there were romantic partnerships and romantic love (and “drama”), but most valuable was the group, our “family of choice.” We had potlucks and dances, but most of all we supported each other through the big things in our lives (illness, the homophobia of families of origin, and so on). We got together regularly. The women who partnered did not retreat from or drop the group. We were much more than simply a group of women who were Queer. We created an alternative way of doing “family”—it was with friends. (I knew whom to choose for an emergency contact, because we prioritized each other.)

Then came the movement for Gay marriage. I had also moved to another state, so my former community was, sadly, no longer part of my life. I now have friends, both Gay and straight, but most of them are in partnerships. The LBQ women, at least where I live and in my age group, have prioritized their private primary romantic partnerships, just like in the dominant culture.

This has been a huge loss for me. For example, a dear straight best friend got into a new relationship, and our friendship suddenly went from being a priority to taking the backseat. I was confused and hurt and the friendship didn’t survive. (As “Maria” said [see previous article], one of the toughest aspects of being single is that often we are no one’s priority.) I blamed myself for wishing it were different, since it seemed like everyone else was fine with it.

I have caught myself saying self-deprecating things like, “My emotional development must be arrested in the teenage years because all I want is the friendship gang; I’ve never grown out of it into wanting a committed partnership.”

Well, the Single Women’s Workshop changed that negative perception of myself. Diane Balser put things in the context of oppression—the cultural push to put the institution of marriage first and how this hurts friendships. It suddenly was no longer so personal to me. I could see single women’s lives, including my own, as full and beautiful, centered on work and friendship—lives in which we were true to ourselves. (A big contradiction to the oppression is the many well-loved RC single women who have full and amazing lives.) I left the workshop feeling that my desires for community and the primacy of friendship were valid. Diane used that term many times, and it keeps going around in my head. Our lives as single women are valid.

Since the workshop my self-criticism has eased. I feel quite pleased with my single life and inspired to make it even more the way I wish, including having relationships in which the people prioritize each other.

Driving home on a hot, humid Sunday, with no one expecting me to return at a certain time (a common single woman’s experience), I stopped at my favorite swimming hole to cool off. Then I drove past a free outdoor concert in a small town and spontaneously decided to sit and listen to a few songs. Before the workshop I probably would have done these things but would have felt lonesome and negative about myself. Instead, after being at the workshop, I felt incredible appreciation for the freedom in my single life and the beauty it allows me to experience.


Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00