Sunday, January 01, 2012

Coming out bisexual

The first of January, the beginning of a new year, means a new start. Resolutions, if you like. And for some, the idea of new beginnings means coming out.

I spend quite a lot of time on Twitter these days, and various retweets – or repostings by others, if you don’t know about Twitter – are from or about people who’ve decided they are finally going to tell other people they are bisexual.

Coming out as bi can be complicated, mainly because you have to tell people over and over again. People you don’t know will assume that you are either gay or heterosexual, depending on whether your partner is a man or a woman. If you are single, or dating several people, or poly – that can be easier.

There’s no bisexual “look”, in many places there’s no bi scene, the fact that other bisexuals seem hard to find (other than on the internet)... all these things can be annoying if you are looking for support.

But telling the world you are bi is important, really important.

Most of the world thinks that there is no such thing as bisexuality, that bi people are straight people playing at being gay (bi women) or gay people running away from their real sexuality (bi men). You know that it’s not like that – for you and for many others. The more of us who come out, the easier it is for those people who are not out yet.

And there are many people who cannot be out yet, because it is too difficult. They are too unsure of their feelings, their religion says it is wrong, it is illegal in their country, everyone around them thinks it is wicked, their family actually would beat them up and throw them out. They need to know there are people in the world who can support them, however far away they are or whether or not they know them personally.

So coming out is a public service.

It’s also something to do for yourself. Telling people you are bi, especially potentially tricky ones like parents and partners, means you are telling the truth about yourself. You don’t have to lie about a significant part of yourself. Yes, it will be difficult sometimes, but you may also be surprised by the people who will help and support you.

A bi man I once interviewed - deep in the closet, with a conventional life that felt he couldn’t threaten - said that he longed to “live out loud, like other people”. Coming out is the first step to doing that.

Happy New Year. And good luck!


Anonymous said...

My friends keep calling my sexuality "lesbian" even though they've known me for years and have seen me with men and women. I don't enjoy it and I've tried to correct them several times, explaining that I'm actually "bisexual". They roll their eyes and say I'm too hung up on labels.

BiSexualGirlBlog said...

Thank you so much Sue for writing this entry! Just under a year ago I admitted my bisexuality to my boyfriend and since then have came out to 2 other people. I have been thinking of coming out to everyone a lot lately and your article demonstrates many benefits of doing so.

"Coming out is a public service," great point!!!!!

Jennifer said...

Very well said! This is why I came out a year ago, after the rash of LGBT teen suicides.

brucexyz said...

Dear Sue,
This is a timely and powerfully argued posting on your brilliant blog which I recently started to follow.
It has taken me decades of personal inner struggle with my sexuality to finally accept the fact that I am bisexual and come out to myself. However, like the majority of other men in a similar situation in our society I find it almost impossible to come out to anyone else, and it will take me a long time yet before I feel I can do so.
In the meantime, keep up your great work!

Sue George said...

Thanks everyone. x

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know how to stop people from automatically assuming you are wanting casual sex with everyone just because you are bi. This includes other bi people. Where are the people not just interested in hook-ups?

Sue George said...

There are lots of bisexuals not interested in casual hook-ups, or not just interested in that anyway. I've been thinking about how to respond to this, because saying "I'm bi but I'm not interested in casual hook-ups" makes it sound a bit like other bisexuals are "bad". Bisexuality as an identity is far more visible than it was a few years ago (even if it sometimes doesn't feel like it) so that assumption will get better, I think. Maybe in the short term you have to say, "not me".

Zigzig said...

I agree. I acknowledged my sexuality some years ago, but came out only to 2 friends and my boyfriend. It is difficult, because many people still think it is wrong and that you have to choose only one gender to love.

Anonymous said...

Bisexual people really need to help each other and support each other. I have been out for 23 years but at times I was the only bi guy I knew and the only bi guy who was out. I have received tremendous discrimination from the gay community to where I generally have avoided the community trying to find a bisexual community has been difficult but I slowly piece one together for myself. A potential new boyfriend (I have a bi girlfriend) spoke to me recently on how much pain it was to remain closeted til recently, my pain is that of receiving too much harassment for being out.

Anonymous said...

This is an older post but I really appreciate it. I'm a bi woman in the process of coming out and it is very difficult to think about the potential for rejection from both the gay/lesbian and straight communities. So many of the bi folks I know feel pressured to either "act gay" or "act straight" even if people recognize nominally that they are bisexual. Often there is no visible bisexual community because we're out there passing for gay or straight because so that we don't lose friends, family, and partners. I know of people who are closeted on both sides of the proverbial fence. I'm lucky to live in a place where there are some LGBT resources that truly include bi people and there is something of a bi community that is not focused on random hookups. Still I can see that their efforts to build a strong, visible, and vocal bi presence are struggling. The more I learn about the challenges that are unique to bisexual folks, the more it feels like an obligation to come out in spite of maintaining fervently that I was straight for years. Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

Thank you sooo much! I am a bisexual male who came out to one friend a year and four minths ago! Since then I have told 6 additional people! I am proud to be straight and proud to be gay! I have had 3 female and 3 male sexual partners! I definitely have BI PRIDE :)

Anonymous said...

NEED HELP. I class myself as heterosexual at the moment but I keep thinking about girls... ive had thoughts about Perrie from little mix but a huge one was Paige from WWE!.. what do I class myself as?. Thank you :).

Anonymous said...

great article, thanks Sue!
I came out as Bi last year, after i split up with my husband and started dating my girlfriend. Although it's not something i'd ever talked to anyone about (except my ex-hubby) i've always known i was Bi. Being single again gave me an opportunity to think about my sexuality and what kinds of relationship i wanted generally (regardless of gender) in the future.

I wasn't actually looking for a relationship at all, when i was fortunate enough to meet the most amazing woman, and we hit it off immediately and we are celebrating our 1st anniversary in a couple of weeks :)

I guess at 35 i felt i had broad enough shoulders to not really care what others think and didn't hesitate to come out as Bi. it was a gradual process though, and has taken a year to filter through to all the corners of my life, including close and more distant friends, family and colleagues and whilst i didn't shy away from it, i did give it some consideration because you never quite know how people will react, and its that fear of the unknown that stops us from talking - that and the fact that in a straight relationship, it was easier to pass as straight, the question never came up, so why bother having that conversation generally.... it never really occurred to me until these last few months that whilst coming out wouldn't benefit me in any way, it might give others support if they needed it...

I also realised that actually if there were people in my life who would react badly to me coming out, that i didn't want those people in my life. That kind of LGBTphobia is not a position i can or would ever understand or tolerate, so if i ended up losing a few friends or maybe even family - so be it. i am happy with who i am and will love the people who accept me for who i am just that little bit more for being the decent, gorgeous people that they are.

We were able to join 36 of our friends at an annual pride brunch this year (my first one as an officially out Bi!) and it felt pretty fantastic to be celebrating the diversity in our group of friends, and the ability to be whoever we are, to be in our capital city without fear of abuse or arrest. The more of us that come out, the wider that acceptance spreads.

I don't know if its just a really positive reflection of where society is today, or if its just that i have brilliant friends and family, but apart from my mum, i've not had a single negative reaction, and my mum has her own issues to sort out so for now we're just acknowledging that there are some difficulties between us and letting time and space do some healing work. She'll come round (or not) at some point, and in the mean time, my life continues happily.

Sorry, i've waffled on a bit here. My point is, people won't understand you're Bi unless you tell them you are and what that means. Some of my friends still assume i was a closet lesbian and have 'gone off' men?! like it's an on/off switch. i stopped being straight and now im gay.... nope.

There is a shortage of Bi people out and proud and yeah, i'm guilty of saying im lesbian at times because it's easier than getting into the explanations... but i'm here, i'm Bi and i'm proud and, because Sue is right, it is a public service - i will make more of an effort to educate people that i am one of the ''Bs' in LGBT and let them know what that means.

thanks, Jolucy x