How did you realize you were bisexual?
I met a guy one night in Madrid. He had missed his flight and I had a flight on the following day so I had nothing to do that the night and neither did he.
He suddenly came up to me and invited me for dinner and then suggested we’d go for drinks. I thought it was strange that someone I didn’t know would come up to me and ask to hang out. Then he asked me if I had a boyfriend.
I answered that I had a girlfriend before and that now I was single but that I wasn’t attracted to guys. He didn’t believe me and I told him I didn’t care if he did or not. Even after that, I didn’t feel particularly uncomfortable, this was a guy I had randomly met and he seemed like a good guy so I didn’t ask myself more questions.
When we went out for a drink everyone was flirting with him. Then people came up to me and asked if I minded that people were flirting with my boyfriend. I laughed and told them he wasn’t my boyfriend and that we had met 3 hours ago.
At the end of the night he kissed me and surprisingly enough, I liked it. Of course I knew that he was going to try to kiss me at some point but I thought that when the time would come, I would dodge it somehow without being rude. But when he kissed me, I didn’t push him away and actually liked it.
I had never had feelings for guys before. I hadn’t even imagined it because I liked girls and it’s the usual path. I went with the flow and I did the things that were expected of me.
I spent the following day on the flight thinking about what had happened. I thought that maybe this would never happen again and that it was a one time thing because I knew I was attracted to women. But it awoke my curiosity and since then I’ve had relationships with men and women so I define myself as bisexual.
How do you define bisexuality?
Some people come up to me and ask me if I’m ‘officially bisexual’. What does that mean? I don’t have a membership card or anything.
For me bisexual means you can be attracted to any person you dont care man or woman you’re just attracted. You can be attracted to any person depending on many factors that I normally don’t even understand myself.
Are you out to your family?
Of course! I came out to my family and I had to tell them about this guy is my boyfriend. Now I don’t live in Spain so they don’t have to know about all my dates but if i have to take a guy home they will not have any problem they will tell me if they like him more than the previous one regardless if it’s a guy or a girl.
Are you equally attracted to men and women?
I tend to be more attracted to either men or women depending on the environment I’m in. If I’m in a more heterosexual environment I tend to feel more attracted to women and if it’s a more LGBT environment, then I’m more attracted to the men. But maybe that’s because I believe I have more chances? I don’t know.
Here in Belgium, I have much more of a gay-oriented life because I’m in the LGBT rugby team, I have a lot of gay friends so my life is much more oriented towards men than before. When I was in Spain, my friends from school are mostly heterosexual, my circle is mostly heterosexual and I met more girls and had more girlfriends than boyfriends but this is also depending on my environment, not on my perception.
Have you ever felt discrimination for being bisexual?
When you’re Bi you’re invisible in both worlds. When you’re in the gay community everybody will assume you are gay because you are dating a guy and when you are with a woman everyone will assume you are straight because you’re with a woman. It’s very difficult for people to imagine that you can be bisexual. So they will only see if they see me having different partners or when I have trust enough and the topic comes up.
I think that the main discrimination that a bisexual experiences in the community is that people don’t believe that you’re bisexual forever. Especially in the gay community you hear a lot of jokes or comments about bisexuality and that it’s just a phase. They think its a phase or an excuse not to face that you’re gay. It’s probably because many gay people use bisexuality as a transition phase because it’s easier for them to accept at the beginning that they are bi and then they accept that they are gay.
Another challenge of being bisexual is when starting a relationship because they think that bisexuals have the whole world of opportunities and that we’re so lucky. It’s hard at times because you always have to earn the trust of the people you really want to have a relationship with. Their insecurities amplify by thinking that I could be attracted to everyone and they have to compete with all the men and all the women.
For me, when I’m with somebody I close my eyes and I am with somebody. But many have a hard time understanding that. Or they may feel that they are with a guy who’s not sure about his sexuality and then after a while he’s going to be attracted to the other gender.
In my case starting a relationship is always an adventure but it takes time for the trust to settle.
You mentioned that you play for an LGBT rugby team. Tell us more about it.
I joined the rugby team because when I came to Brussels I didn’t know anybody here. I knew team sports was an easy way to meet new people in a fast and non-sexualised way so I gave it a go. I knew a bit of rugby because I had played in university. I chose this team because I had never heard of an LGBT rugby team and I liked the idea of being inclusive and for people to express themselves as they are.
I think that sport has a lot of possibilities for making a lot of impact on LGBT people. Team sports are a social group of support. My rugby team is like my family here in Belgium. They can help you when you need to move house or they can spend Christmas with you when your family is away or you have a problem you always have somebody to go to.
Is there any difference between an LGBT rugby team and an “ordinary” rugby team?
The team was created 8 years ago to open a space for gay people who wanted to discover rugby. Then it evolved to be a more inclusive thing because we found out that there were straight people who wanted to join sometimes they were friends of our players, sometimes they were people who didn’t know about rugby. In Belgium It’s not easy to join a rugby team as an adult but we welcome everybody of every level. Some people on our team are straight but like the idea of an inclusive team and it’s their way to show their support. For example, we had Erasmus people, straight guys from Spain, who came to Brussels and they found different teams and they said ours was the most welcoming one so they stayed with us. They didn’t even know it was an LGBT team until later which shows that it’s not so different from any other rugby team. The difference is that it’s a team where you can bring your boyfriend for the team dinner or you can have your boyfriend next to the pitch supporting you and nobody’s going to look. So it’s a safe space and a great family.
Another straight man joined the team because he told us that he had joined another team and he was a tired of hearing all the homophobic comments or jokes, especially considering his cousin is gay. So he decided to join our rugby team where his gay cousin was playing and I guess it was also his way of showing his support.
The idea of having an LGBT rugby team also shows that LGBT people can play rugby, as they can do any other thing, in the same conditions. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose but we play the same sport and we play it on the same level.
Do you feel like there is still homophobia in sports?
I believe that there is still a lot of homophobia in sports in general and especially sports that are portrayed as hyper-masculine such as football. But even sports like tennis where there is no contact and it’s an individual sport, athletes don’t come out. Statistically, there has to be gay football, basketball, tennis players… but they don’t come out. It’s probably due to a mix of fear of public reaction combined with fear of losing their sponsorship deals.
There are some very good stories of players that have recently come out noticeably Olympians in Pyeongchang this year and hopefully more and more will follow suit. Still, many things will have to happen until we see the first figure of football coming out.
What about homophobia in rugby?
We tend to think that it’s easier to be out in rugby because we have had famous athletes such as Gareth Thomas who came out while he was still on the team. We are indeed making progress but then there are episodes of homophobia such as last week where Israel Folau, a star player on the Australian rugby team, wrote on social media that:
‘God’s plan for gay people was “HELL”’.
Thankfully for us in Belgium, the Belgian Federation made it a mission to try to eradicate homophobia in our sport and we work directly with them, but it will take time.
Are you hopeful for the future?
I am hopeful for the future and I do think homophobia will be tackled soon because society is changing. We need more sport figures to come out because they are leaders and people look up to them. I also believe LGBT people in sports have a responsibility to come out because they can be a support system to people who are struggling with their sexuality. But I know that everybody has their own path to coming out and you cannot push someone out of the closet. They have the right to decide if they want and when they want to come out.