Bisexual people are greedy. Bisexuals are promiscuous. Bisexuals are confused. These are the stereotypes Taylar Morrissey faces because of her sexuality.
“It isn’t so much a problem on campus as it is a problem in society in general,” she said. “Someone will ask me if I’m into boys or girls, and I’ll say both, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, that’s hot.’”
A junior film and new media major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Morrissey identifies as bisexual or queer. She said her favorite definition for her sexuality is one she quotes from bisexual activist Robyn Ochs:
“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way and not necessarily to the same degree.”
Morrissey graduated from Central High School in Aberdeen, S.D. She grew up among a population of about 27,000, about one-tenth the size of Lincoln.
She officially came out to herself the summer after she graduated in 2011, right before she began attending UNL. Within months of finding her label, she told her younger sisters. Then in January 2013, Morrissey called her parents.
“My parents are really chill about it,” she said. “They were just like, ‘OK. You know we still love you, right?’”
Since then, Morrissey recently came out on Facebook because she and her first-ever girlfriend of about one month decided to make their relationship Facebook official. She received nothing but positive encouragement.
It’s not that Morrissey didn’t realize she was attracted to both genders before coming out, she just didn’t have the right language for her sexuality.
“There’s no cut-and-dry version of any identity,” she said. “But especially to someone who identifies as bisexual or queer. That word means different things to different people.”
Morrissey said there’s a lot of biphobia - fear of bisexuality - in society, even in the LGBTQ community. One common misconception Morrissey said people have of bisexuals is that if a woman has a girlfriend, that means she’s a lesbian. She said she’s even heard gay people say that a person can only be attracted to one gender. They say “make up your mind” or “get off the fence.”
“That’s like saying you can like cake or pie, but you can’t like both,” she said. “I don’t understand why people within the LGBTQA community are so determined to be close-minded. I think it’s unnecessarily dividing our community when we should all be working together to advance rights and get our voices heard.”
Morrissey believes the only way to cure misconstrued perceptions of sexuality is by speaking out and being a voice for the voiceless, which is why she wants to change the media. The media doesn’t portray an accurate representation of the LGBTQ community, Morrissey said.
“Very rarely will you see a film about queer people that will end with them as a happy couple,” she said. “They’ll either break up, both will die, one will commit suicide or be murdered. If it’s two girls, one of them will leave the other for a guy.”
Because Morrissey’s passion is making art and stories, she plans to create films that she hopes will change the perceptions about the LGBTQ community that she said the media has ingrained into the social consciousness. She believes that significant change can come by exposing people to stories that don’t simply portray the stereotypical gay man, or the lesbian couple where one partner leaves to be with a man instead.
“We’re so much more than that as a community,” she said. “There are stories out there that are so much more interesting than those overplayed story arcs.”
If there is one thing Morrissey wants people to understand, it’s that people get to define their own sexuality.
“You should not force your own opinions onto their identity,” Morrissey said. “It’s their identity, it’s their choice, and they get to define what that is.”