If you’ve never given a second thought to your sexuality, congratulations, you lucky duck. If you’ve spent any amount of time wondering how to label yourself—or why said labeling is even necessary—you know how frustrating the experience is. Either way, you should read Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much, a fabulous new collection of essays by Wall Street Journal and Washington Post writer Jen Winston, who is simply trying to live authentically in a patriarchal society that dismisses non-cis white heterosexual men at every turn.
Winston is bisexual. (“As it turns out, I’m not straight. I’m not gay. The only thing I am is a threat. Because now I understand that bisexuality isn’t just an identity—it’s a lens through which to reimagine our world.”) And if you’ve heard one stereotype of bisexual people, you’ve heard them all: Bisexuality is just indecision, bi people are greedy, promiscuous or just haven’t figured it out yet. Winston confirms that no matter how secure you feel in your identity, hearing the same stereotypes over and over again makes it pretty damn hard to believe you’re valid. They (Winston uses she/they pronouns) write, “Is bisexuality queer? In your head you know it is—another few years and you'll realize you're just as entitled to Chromatica Oreos as twinks are. But in your heart, you can't deny that bisexuality has never felt queer enough.”
The writing in Greedy is casual, self-deprecating and whip-smart (there are hints of Lindy West, Jia Tolentino and Kristen Arnett), and reading Winston’s essays is almost like scrolling through Twitter threads written by the funniest people on the app. That’s not to say it’s lacking substance. When they’re not “diagnosing” benign versus malignant girl crushes, Winston writes candidly about substance abuse, sexual assault and police brutality in essays that come with content warnings, for the record.
For the most part, though, Winston finds humor in the messiness of grappling with one’s identity. They describe gender as being like a quarantine—too uncomfortably confining for many people, and they nail the internal monologue of a person trying to decide whether they’re actually queer or if they’re just looking for attention or haven’t met the right hetero partner yet. Of one of their first times sleeping with a woman, Winston confides, “What if I didn’t like the sex—would that prove I was straight? Or what if I liked it too much, and realized I didn’t need men at all? The latter question had followed me my whole life, cloaked in internalized homophobia—the possibility of falling in love with another gender felt like a threat to the person I knew myself to be.”
There’s a frequent assumption that queer media is only for queer people. Greedy is proof that it’s not. Even folks to whom heterosexuality comes naturally will relate to the awkwardness of first dates and bad sex and shifting power dynamics in relationships. As Winston notes at the very beginning of Greedy, “There are no closer shelves in the bookstore than Dating and Horror.”