Bisexuality in Punk Rock: How an open community encourages bi visibility

Joshua Molloy of Animal Byproducts discusses how the punk community has enabled him to be more open and accepting of his bisexuality.

Guest article written by Joshua Molloy of Animal Byproducts, in honour of Bi Visibility Day 2019.
As a bisexual man, I have the power of invisibility. I tried using it for evil, like stealing things, or bringing down society… but it’s not the fun kind of invisibility, more the kind of invisibility that makes you very uncomfortable in a load of different situations. You’re hardly ever mentioned, and people just seem to forget you exist.
When I was younger I didn’t even realise there was a word for it until my sister came out. I knew that “gay” was a thing, and I knew that “straight” was a thing, but I was very aware that I wasn’t either, and I didn’t know what to do with that. When society implicitly teaches you (or explicitly, Section 28 was a real and incredibly harmful thing) that there’s only one way of being, it hurts everyone who sits outside that.
So when I figured it out about myself, I had no real model for how to be, and it was difficult to come to terms with. I told a few people who I trusted and felt safe with, and I didn’t get too many bad reactions. But I still didn’t feel like I was safe letting the whole world know.


Instead of staying in, listening to Coming Clean on repeat and crying, I decided to get out there and find a place that I felt like I could be openly bi and have people be OK with that. So I started going to gay bars and queer spaces, and just tried to see if I could feel free to be myself there. Plenty of slightly bad experiences (and a handful of really bad ones) showed me that wasn’t necessarily the case.

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Josh trumpeting with Animal Byproducts (Photo: Unknown)

Every gay man knows (or is) someone who came out as bisexual, and then later as gay. And every lesbian has a story of a bisexual ex who dated a man afterwards. For some reason, some people think both of these stories mean that bisexuals aren’t real. When members of the gay community can be just as hurtful as the rest of society, it can become quite clear that these are gay spaces, and anyone sitting outside the restrictive roles is only welcome on paper.
I even did the whole “start fresh in a new place” thing for a while. I got a job in a tiny little town in Worcestershire, and tried to start my authentic life away from all the places I knew. I have never felt as conspicuous as when I was “the only queer in the village”. When you have both public and private personas, it’s difficult to relax in a town where, whenever you go on a night out, someone you work with will turn up part-way through the evening. When you’re a very introverted person, that’s an incredibly difficult environment to navigate. So mostly, I stayed in, listened to Coming Clean on repeat and cried. Then I came back up North.

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Ultimately, this all meant that I got the idea that my sexuality was a private thing, not for polite company, and that it was rude to say anything about it. I was sort of closeted, but it was more of a walk-in wardrobe.
Then I was introduced to the punk scene. I was already getting to a point in life when I was taking less shit from the world, then I saw music giving a platform to all the people I hadn’t seen before. People were asserting their identity, in defiance of a world that sent them the message that they were the only one. There were so many queer voices, and each one had something new to say.

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When you see so many people doing that, and see how many people connect with their experience, it’s really freeing. It gives me the confidence to share my experience, and feel like I have a worthwhile perspective. It’s very nice to not have to police myself in front of people.
This has all given me the confidence to feel less awkward when mentioning things that might “give me away” in the real world, too. I’m not just shoe-horning it in; I’m adding to the conversation. I feel more seen, and much more comfortable for it.
I still feel nervous about actually saying that I’m bisexual, and the bottom still feels like it’s dropping out of my stomach sometimes. Even writing this article has been really hard, simply because of that little “nobody cares, and bringing attention to yourself like this is obnoxious” voice at the back of my head. But that thought is not true, or helpful, or necessary, so it can fuck off.
Invisibility of all kinds hurts people, and if I can make any amount of difference by being visible, I will. It’s safe for me to be out, and I feel like I have a responsibility to myself and others to be out, in order to make it safer and easier for those who aren’t yet.
September 23rd is Bi Visibility Day, and legend has it that if a bi person sees their shadow, we’ll get six more weeks of the weather doing whatever it wants. Because restrictive seasonal roles hurt us all.

Animal Byproducts are a delightful quirky indie-punk-pop act from Manchester and Leeds, who jazz things up with a bit of punk trumpet. They are due to release their new single Dozens of Us, which also discussed bi visibility, on Bi Visibility day: Monday 23 September.

All proceeds from the single go to akt, a charity offering accommodation and other support to young LGBTQ+ people who are homeless or living in hostile environments. It will be available from their Bandcamp: animalbyproducts.bandcamp.com.

Animal Byproducts will be releasing a new EP Attempts At Understanding early in the new year. You can keep track of them on Facebook.

Guest article written by Joshua Molloy of Animal Byproducts, in honour of Bi Visibility Day 2019.

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