Thursday, May 3, 2012

I came out as bisexual

I've known for years that I was bisexual. When I first realized I was "different" than most of my friends, I was in high school. I didn't know there was such a thing called bisexuality. I knew people were straight and that anything else was spoken in hushed tones, like if you said it too loud or spoke about it too long, something bad would happen.

My earliest memory of realizing there was anything other than man-woman couple was watching Mrs. Doubtfire where the dad turns to his gay friend for help dressing as a woman. To me, the "costumer" (as I assumed his identity) was just another person who spoke kind of funny. My mother's reaction was a shocked "oh!" with a tsk-ing noise and a comment about how she thought it was inappropriate. I knew something was odd, but I wasn't sure what.

Some years later either my sister or I asked why some men pierce one ear and why left or right side. My mom told me (and I'll never forget this): "Left is right, right is wrong." It was "the signal" of being on the wrong side of sexuality. We never talked about sexuality; I don't ever remember my parents saying the word gay or homosexual, although I'm sure at one point they must have.

Then we moved to a house where a lesbian couple lived across the street. I had never met anyone (to my knowledge) who was "that way." To my knowledge they were incredibly rare and weird. But here they were - neighbors!  They were great neighbors and of course we returned the favor, despite calling them "the girls" behind their backs. (A fact that I'm ashamed of today).

Anyway, I digress. It was in late high school or college when I first heard the term bisexual and it instantly clicked that it was right. It defined exactly where I was confused because I didn't fit the "straight" box and I didn't fit "lesbian" either. Bisexual? That was me. But I only told one person - my best friend who had first told me about the term because it was also her sexual identity.

It was years before I told anyone else. I was still very much in my shell. I had never considered how being bisexual fit into my identity. I'd had mostly boy-crushes in school and no one would ever guess. It was pushed to the bottom of the pile of self-discovery - college was too distracting and soon I was dating my ex. I told him eventually; he was fine with it, because he assumed I would never do anything about it. We were strictly monogamous.

So I ignored it. College was done, I was married, and life was started. And then something changed. Friends from college started coming out. Gay rights started popping up in the news and I was paying attention to current events for the first time in my life. And I finally started thinking about my sexuality. I knew who I was, but I was hiding it from everyone. Even when my friends came out, I didn't say anything in return. I wasn't ready for the world to know.

My ex and I became somewhat active in our pro-gay rights views. My parents did not understand why I wanted to march in DC with 200,000 other people. They didn't know why I was posting petitions to facebook. We had arguments about religion and politics. It grew heated and I felt personally attacked but unable to find a voice to say why; so I told them I wouldn't discuss it anymore.

Every once in a while my mom would try to talk about it, trying to figure out why I believed so differently from her/them/my upbringing. I did my best to keep it civil, but it reinforced why I was hiding.

Then I got divorced. I had found freedom and my voice. I met the boyfriend. I started tweeting. I started blogging. I grew more confident.

And then I realized I didn't have a reason to hide anymore. If anything, I was hurting myself by keeping a significant part of myself secret and hidden. It was time to tell everyone.

I did this by posting a note on my vanilla facebook account and then tagging everyone of any significance in my life. Here is a portion of what I posted:

When I found the term bisexual I knew instantly that it fit. It fit that I wasn't straight or lesbian, I was kind of both. I completely agree with the idea that sexuality is on a sliding scale. Its rare that you are just straight or just gay. I'm more straight than gay. If you put it on a scale of 0=100% straight and 10=100% gay, then I'd define myself as a 4 or 5.

So why am I telling you this? Well, because there's nothing to hide about it. Its who I am, who I've been, and who I will be. It won't change or go away. For the longest time I pretended it wasn't there because it didn't "fit" well into my life. What I've learned is that ignoring who you are makes your life a lie and you reflect that internal turmoil with being unhappy with yourself. You can't be yourself with those you love and care about.

I want to live authentically, true to myself and who I am.

I don't think I new any non-straight people growing up... or at least, I didn't know I had gay/bi/queer/etc friends at all until they came out during some point of their adult lives. What amazes me is that many more people than I ever suspected were more than the "straight" we assume people automatically are. I'm glad I can be trusted by those who have come out to me. Some are publicly out, others are not. It doesn't matter as its all in their own time to come out, if they ever do.

For me, learning that someone is gay/bi/queer/etc has made me appreciate how diverse our world really is. It really doesn't matter where you're from or what your background is, you are born a certain way and there's nothing you can do to change that.

 Reactions were pretty much what I expect. There are those that didn't care, those who were supportive, and the typical, "Lucky BF!" automatically assuming this is the golden way to get a threeway whenever he wants. Lovely stereotypes!

And then there was my mother. She and I are not friends on facebook since I kicked her off my page a year or so ago... it was also something that I felt I should say to her rather than send in an email. I chickened out for a week. And then a few more days. And then I decided that it just needed to be said.

It went better than I expected. It turns out she found my note through my sister's facebook a few days ago and the time had allowed her to calm down from being "very upset." She doesn't understand it at all, she doesn't even believe bisexual exists, and a lot of other conservative/religious mumbo.

In the end, it was a calm discussion, we didn't argue hardly at all, and it ended well. It's not the end of the dialogue by any means, but at least she knows and I know she knows.

And its over. I'm out. I'm free. It didn't change me for the worse, it just made me stronger.


  1. Wow. That is a hell of a story. I'm so glad your coming out went so well! Congratulations on being brave and I hope your mum comes to understand in the end.

    This is a great story, thank you for sharing.

  2. "I want to live authentically, true to myself and who I am."

    That sums it up right there. I'm all about doing what makes you happy, and am so very happy to see that you finally did.

  3. I'm so glad you can live your authentic self now. Great story and thanks for sharing. It inspires me to try and live more honestly....which can be a challenge at times.

  4. This was an inspiring story, as Nastassja said. We all need to shed our outer skins and present ourselves to the world as we really are.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story and telling it so well!

  6. Conversely, I remember seeing Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993 or 1994 and thinking that Harvey Fierstein's gay character was nothing like the legions of out or on-the-verge-of-being-out gay kids at my high school.

    We're glad that you've found confidence in who you are. No need to hide any aspect of yourself; there will always be more people who accept you for who you are than who wish you were something you're not.

  7. *hugs* Congratulations, hon. There is nothing more liberating than being true to yourself at last. I've been so out about so many things for such a long time that it's almost hard for me to remember that caged feeling and the need to maintain it. *hugs*

    Maybe you could explain to your mom that she doesn't have to understand it, she just needs to love you despite it. :)