I've continued to ponder this question since coming out as bi to myself in early 2012. In some ways I feel like I still don't understand why it takes some people a while to figure things out, but at the same time I think I've finally figured out that cultural norms are a part of it.
We're taught from a young age that people are straight. Or if they aren't straight, they're gay. Either way, monosexual. So if a girl is very clearly into guys (as I definitely was), there's no way she can also be into girls. Right?
In pondering the question how can we not know?? I keep coming back to a particular memory from my time singing in a choir. I'm not going to say this is the one event that made me take so darned long to figure out I'm bi. I won't even say that the adult involved is a bad person for it, though she was certainly clueless. (As are so many.) But it's one example of the monosexual norm being pushed on a bisexual, which is far too common, and which makes for a lot of confusion in so many bisexuals while we're figuring out what the heck we are.
I've sung in a few choirs, and this particular one was a homeschool family choir during my teens. At various times my mom and/or brother also sang in it, though I don't remember if either of them were in it when this happened. They probably were unaware of this incident. And if they did know, they'll have forgotten it. It was really minor, on the surface.
We were singing a song called Grandma's Feather Bed, and there was a brief spoken solo. I'll put the some of the lyrics here, with the solo I wanted in italics.
But if I ever had to make a choice,
I guess it ought-a be said
that I'd trade 'em all
plus the gal down the road
for Grandma's feather bed.
I'd trade 'em all plus the gal down the road...
Now maybe I should think twiceI thought the spoken solo was seriously amusing, and requested that I have it. The director refused to consider giving it to me, simply because "We don't want people getting the wrong idea about you."
'bout the gal down the road.
I've tried for many other solos that were given to others. This is the only one that stands out in my memory.
The sad thing is that while making an effort to ensure that other people wouldn't get the wrong idea about me, the director herself had the wrong idea about me. And, because of having the wrong idea about me, she pushed monosexuality (and specifically heterosexuality) on someone who was really bi. And in the process, she may have created more confusion where there was plenty enough confusion already.
Again, I won't say that this single event is what made me insist I was straight for so long. But it's one example of our society assuming everyone is monosexual, which is a problematic tendency.
On a more lighthearted note, here's the song in question. The brief spoken solo I wanted is missing from this rendition, so I guess it was just a quirk added in to the arrangement that the choir director got hold of.