Becoming Visible: On Coming Out As Bisexual

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It’s 2014, and queers are coming out in droves, increasing visibility and demanding basic human rights. But in many ways, bisexuals have a harder time coming out. We’re substantially less represented in fictional media and in public life, and plenty of people still believe bisexuals are selfish, greedy, duplicitous, indecisive, emotionally unavailable unicorns going through a phase. Bisexual adults and youth are much less likely than their gay and lesbian counterparts to be out to their friends and families, according to recent reports from LGBT Movement Advancement Project and the Human Rights Commission.

via LGBT MAP

via LGBT MAP

Some bi people put off coming out or come out as gay or lesbian because they feel forced to be decisive and hear from all corners that bisexuality isn’t a legitimate choice. There’s no one way to come out as bi — some people have an easy time and lots of acceptance, others have to fight harder to gain respect for their decision. Some figure it out young, and others come out as bi after identifying as straight or lesbian for a long time. To celebrate Bisexual Awareness Week, we turned to our readers for their anecdotes and advice about coming out as bisexual. Add your own ideas, stories and questions in the comments!


“The quickest/least arduous way to come out to all those acquaintances and other people who don’t really deserve a personal disclosure IMO is to start posting super gay pics of yourself on facebook.” – Jeannette, 29

My coming out experience has been pretty great, honestly. I didn’t really let myself explore dating women until a few years ago, and so I’m going through all these milestones as a mostly independent adult, which has had its advantages. Like a lot of bisexuals or femmes I know, coming out is an ongoing, piecemeal process. The first person I came out to was a dear friend and mentor who identifies similarly. She was wonderfully supportive and in hindsight I’m glad that I told her first. Everyone should be so happy for you when you come out to them!

My friends have been mostly awesome, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly they adjusted to being more gender inclusive when talking about dating and sex partners. I was absolutely terrified to tell my conservative, Christian family. I was afraid that they would stop talking to me or keep me from spending time with my little siblings, nieces and nephew. Thankfully, that actually went pretty well too. My mom and older sister were definitely surprised when I first told them I was bisexual, but they didn’t yell or question what I was saying. My mom was more concerned that I hadn’t felt like I could tell her sooner. (We didn’t, and still haven’t, discussed her homophobia/biphobia in relation to my waiting so long to come out.) More of their discomfort surfaced when they later met the woman I’m dating, but that’s another story! The quickest/least arduous way to come out to all those acquaintances and other people who don’t really deserve a personal disclosure IMO is to start posting super gay pics of yourself on facebook. They’ll figure it out.

I still choose to come out to people all the time in all kinds of situations; it is exhausting and scary, but overall my experiences have been positive. My age, the fact that I’m white, living in a relatively liberal town in CA and my “gender-normative” appearance have all made this fairly easy for me. I know that I am so privileged to even have a choice to come out; for me it has been an immense relief and hugely affirming. I believe coming out is a personal decision, and I think that all lgbtqia people coming out deserve to be met with warmth and joy.


“I’ve yet to meet a man who is immediately comfortable with my sexuality.” – Hannah Hodson, 23, Autostraddle writer

I never really came out as bisexual until after college. In middle school a bunch of girls were being accused of saying they were bisexual to get the attention of boys, so I kept my relationship with a girl under wraps. I couldn’t stand to be bullied more than I already was. In high school I tried to embrace it, but all of the girls I ever wanted to date ended up with the boys I wanted to date. I wasn’t ashamed of it or anything, but my fear of rejection prevented me from ever approaching women outside of the context of hooking up at parties. By the time I got to college, I was so used to downplaying my sexuality that I didn’t feel “queer enough” to be a member of the queer community. As a cis femme bisexual I had the was often perceived as straight and didn’t think I related to the same kinds of adversity the queers in college seemed to face. I had never been a member of any kind of queer community and was terrified of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, which did happen a few times actually. So I told people that I identified more with being a Black woman than with my sexuality, which was a lie.

Coming out to men was an experience of its own. For male friends, there was an immediate dismissal involving something along the lines of “yeah, but you’re not really gay though.” I will never understand why, because it had nothing to do with them. For male partners there was one of two reactions. The first, most common reaction was to tell me they thought it was really hot, and immediately ask me if I would consider having a threesome. One time the guy even asked me to have a threesome with the girl he was cheating on me with! I mean, obviously that guy was an asshole, so maybe that was to be expected. It’s not that I’m not open to the idea of being with multiple people, but the immediate assumption that being bisexual means that I’m into something kinkier was definitely offensive. On the flipside, and this was with the men who actually respected me, they took my bisexuality very seriously and saw it as a threat to their masculinity. It’s kind of funny actually, because after a while I would suggest that we try something kinkier, and they would jump to the conclusion that I was dissatisfied with the relationship and wanted to run away with a woman or something very drastic. I’ve yet to meet a man who is immediately comfortable with my sexuality. The latter sort of dude, though, is easier to work on.

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It wasn’t until a few years ago that I began dropping hints to my parents that I was bisexual. I don’t think I ever told them because I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal to them, and I didn’t want to act like it was some kind of… well, big deal. They know now. My dad couldn’t care less. Growing up my dad told me “I always thought it be really hip to have a gay kid,” dropping the hint that either he knew, or that he would embrace it. My mother actually took it harder than I thought she would. I think she mostly felt as though this was something she should have known about me and was sad I didn’t tell her sooner. I guess I’m still sort of coming out. I’m learning to embrace my sexuality as a primary part of my identity rather than an afterthought. It feels really good.


“You know how you can be attracted to a blond girl or a brunette girl, but hair color wouldn’t be a deal breaker or majorly affect your level of interest in someone? That’s how I feel about gender.” – Kadry, 28

When you say the word “bisexual,” a bunch of stereotypes come to mind for most people. So I avoided the word entirely; instead, I told people that I was attracted to humans regardless of gender. I didn’t bring out the B word until I had already given people some time to get used to what it meant.

Here’s how I explained bisexuality to my monosexual friends who just didn’t get it: You know how you can be attracted to a blond girl or a brunette girl, but hair color wouldn’t be a deal breaker or majorly affect your level of interest in someone? That’s how I feel about gender. An individual’s personality, not their gender expression or sex, is what attracts me. And if you married a redhead, you could still appreciate the attractiveness of other hair colors without feeling a burning need to satisfy your desire for brunettes. Hair color and gender are all just categories that have as much significance as you give them.

Kadry


“It feels like the opposite of a coming out story; I was out and proud as a lesbian, and now I don’t know what I am.” – Rachel, 24

This article is my coming out as non-lesbian. I’ve identified a lesbian since I was in high school. Throughout high school, college, and grad school, I have been exclusively interested in women. This summer, to my surprise, my found myself attracted to a cisgender, straight guy. I’ve known him for a while, and I had never thought of him in a romantic light… until one day, as if someone snapped their fingers and put a spell on me, I woke up and was romantically attracted to him. Nothing ended up happening with this guy, but the crush changed me. It feels like the opposite of a coming out story; I was out and proud as a lesbian, and now I don’t know what I am. I don’t exactly identify as bisexual, and I still feel very attached to the lesbian & gay labels, so I’m trying to figure it out.

To help myself figure out what’s going on, I wrote a one-act play based on my experience. I’ve used the play as a coming out device. I had a reading of the play recently, and the people involved were very appreciative of the subject matter, as it’s something some of them have experienced. Before I started writing the play, I told several friends about my crush, and I received a wide variety of responses — everything from “sexuality is fluid” to “whaaaattttt???!!!!” I don’t even know if the guy knows about my crush on him, but he unknowingly changed me.

One of my favorite quotes is, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -Mary Engelbreit. I definitely have new eyes.

Rachel used writing a one-act play to help her understand her experience with sexuality.


“The assumption was I’d want to get settled and married, buy a house and start having kids soon, so I shouldn’t do anything that would soil that path.” — Anonymous, 35

When I came out to my mom, she told me not to let anyone know I’m bisexual. She was afraid I’d lose my job. She was afraid men I’d date wouldn’t want to settle down with me. The idea that I might want to date women wasn’t something she understood. Gay people have such a tough time in life, so obviously if you could be attracted to the opposite sex, you’d go that route, no brainer. Why be happy when you could be normal? The assumption was I’d want to get settled and married, buy a house and start having kids soon, so I shouldn’t do anything that would soil that path.

I do volunteer work with kids, and my mom said that if the parents of those kids found out I was bi or gay, they’d start looking for signs I was molesting their kids, and then I’d be sued by one of them. She also brought up the sexual abuse I’d suffered as a nine-year old. We hadn’t talked about it since I was that age, so it felt like it was from left field. It seemed like the implication was that experience had made me queer, and therefore my identity was unnatural or perverted.

It was the king of all uncomfortable conversations. That was 10 years ago, and we haven’t spoken of it since. I haven’t had a relationship with a woman that’s progressed to meeting my parents. Some day I hope to. I think it will go OK because she’ll be an actual person for them to talk to and relate to, and not an abstract concept of sexuality.


“It wasn’t until I realized I was falling in love that I came clean.” – Anica, 31

I came out almost two years ago… again. After happily living as a lesbian for years, I was dumbstruck when an evening with a male co-worker ended in an enjoyable kiss.

For me, our relationship was quite similar to many first, unexpected homosexual relationships. I only told a couple of very close friends the truth and played the pronoun game with everyone else. It wasn’t until I realized I was falling in love that I came clean.

I think it’s easier coming out as bi after you’ve been out as a lesbian, because usually the big risk is whether the person accepts non-heterosexuality. In my experience, the straight people couldn’t care less; some found the announcement hilarious, but most thought it unnecessary, as they didn’t understand its significance to my life or identity. My lesbian friends, on the other hand, well, they accepted it eventually. There was the obligatory watching of Chasing Amy and listening to “I Spent My Last $10 on Birth Control and Beer.” There were the looks of disgust, which were always fun, but they subsided.

The real issue for me being bisexual is the bisexual bias and how many women don’t want to date a bi girl. The coming out part was easy in comparison.

Anica with "the guy that messed it all up."

Anica with “the guy that messed it all up.”


“There can be scrutiny from lesbians or gay men, as bisexuals may be considered indecisive or imposters, which doesn’t always make it easy to be yourself.” – Hellcat, 25

My history of intimate partners includes partners of a range of genders, as well as both cis and trans partners, which play a role in how I present myself in society. If I have a boyfriend I’m perceived as “straight;” if I have a girlfriend I’m considered a lesbian. Regardless, I typically “come out” as bi to indicate that part of my identity so I’m true to myself and for others to realize we exist. I “come out” by mentioning an ex-girlfriend/boyfriend in casual conversation with a potential partner of the opposite sex, or I blatantly say I’m bi. Within our community there can be scrutiny from lesbians or gay men, as bisexuals may be considered indecisive or imposters, which doesn’t always make it easy to be yourself. Unfortunately, living in Texas means my sexual orientation poses a threat. Ultimately, the choice to come out is yours and your safety and wellbeing should be a priority.  If something isn’t working for you (job, relationship, etc.) you should get out of it and move on with your life. Surround yourself with people who accept you, and remember that your sexual orientation is only a piece of your full identity.

Adrian is a writer, a Texan and a divinity student at Vanderbilt University. They write about bisexuality, gender, religion, politics, music and a whole lot of feelings at Autostraddle and wherever fine words are sold. They have a dog named after Alison Bechdel. Follow Adrian on Twitter @adrianwhitetx.

Adrian has written 149 articles for us.

112 Comments

  1. I didn’t come out even to myself until I was in my early twenties thanks to bi erasure and phobia. I’d always spent plenty of time trying to covertly stare at cute girls in school, when a girl asked me out I considered it seriously and was planning to accept until she revealed she’d been dared, a lesbian friend and I regularly fangirled over her Angelina Jolie poster together, etc, but I sort of wrote it all off because any interest in boys automatically equalled straight, right? I didn’t know there were other options. Then Girls Gone Wild based stereotypes and tATu hit when I was in high school, and people became very openly and vocally critical of “fake lesbians” and slut shamed any non-monosexual woman as doing it for male attention in addition to dismissing her identity. The boys I dated told me they were glad I was straight, because they equated bi girls with drama and cheating and didn’t want to date one. My own family was fully accepting of a gay relative but said biphobic things. It was not an environment conducive to self exploration, and I think I was too busy jumping to deny that I was one of “those” girls* to notice all the blatant signs that I wasn’t straight.

    It took a non accusatory friend observing that I seemed strangely interested in his monitor as he was browsing pinup pictures for me to consider that oh, maybe I like women. Everything clicked after that and it seemed painfully obvious in retrospect. He was the first person I came out to, and he came out to me as bi too (yeah, he’s the partner I mentioned in my reply to hibiscus above.) I’ve been pretty open with everyone other than family and employers since, and have slowly been cluing in my relatives over the last couple years. Friends have been great and some of my relatives are totally accepting. I’m not sure what my mom thinks, but at least the casual biphobic remarks have ceased.

    *I’m pretty sure I was one of those shitty biphobic allies everyone hates before I realized I was queer. I have mixed feelings about how to deal with them. They’re shitty and should be criticized, and it shouldn’t be anyone’s job to educate them unless they want to, but I’m optimistic that bad allies might get better or find their way out of the closet, and feel inclined to take some pity on their blunders if they lack malicious intent. I wasn’t consciously trying to be a closet case with internalized phobia, but that was kind of what happened. I thought of myself as a “good” girl, nothing like the demonized stereotypes of bi women I was getting deluged by, and bought and perpetuated the “those” girls mindset. I’m bad at expressing myself, hopefully that rambling sort of made sense?

  2. This was really good for me to read, though I wish it had come a few days sooner, I came out on Facebook on Tuesday. (It went over much better than I was expecting.)

    I’ve been with the same guy for 10 years, since I was 16, so figuring out that I do like people other than men has been a struggle. What’s a bit hilarious is that he’s known for years and I only figured it out like a year ago. Which is part of the reason I came out in honor of bi visibility day, if there had been more bi role models while I was growing up, I wouldn’t have thought “all straight girls are like this.”

    • “all straight girls are like this” – sums up my first 20 years of life so perfectly haha. I remember once having a conversation with a friend that went kind of like “Everyone would hook up with Angelina Jolie give the chance right? Straight, gay, or bisexual? Right? I can be straight and want to have sex with Angelina Jolie, RIGHT?”

      • I remember my (straight) mom randomly pulling me aside in like, 8th grade to tell me that just because I thought women were hot didn’t make me gay. “Oh, ok …. what makes you gay, then?” ….[awkward silence] … “Falling in love and wanting to marry a woman.” Since this was the late ’80’s and there were no visible examples of two women falling in love and getting married, it was a totally foreign concept to me so I assumed I must be just another straight girl that wanted to make out with women. But in the back of my mind, I was always thinking “Mom on this one I think you’re full of it.”

  3. The hardest part about being bisexual for me is that, although I identify as being more attracted to women than to men, I am in a long-term committed relationship with a guy. So I feel like I can’t belong in the queer community, or like I can no longer be bisexual and have to now just be straight, or something. Identifying with my sexual preference makes me feel – or sometimes others think – like I am being untrue to my male lover. Bisexuality is stranger and more difficult than being just straight or just gay because in those two situations, once you find someone, that’s it, no worries, you don’t have to think about your preference any more. But when you’re bi, even when you’re with someone presumably for good, it always seems like you’re thinking about not being with them by saying “well but I’m attracted to the other sex too”.

    Y’know?

    • This this this. As a bi girl who primarily dates guys (let’s be real, hitting on girls is hard and guys are more likely to make the first move, and with the combination of femme invisibility and how we’re programmed our entire lives to act, the odds are stacked) there’s this definitely feeling of Not Being Legitimately Queer.

      I am grateful that I have so many bi friends, guys and gals, that it feels more normalized now to identify as queer in spite of being in a typical boy/girl relationship, but it took a really long time for me to feel comfortable identifying as bi without having completed a checklist of activities to “prove” my identity to the world.

  4. Great article. I especially liked Kadry’s hair color comparison. I will need to start using that.

    When I came out for the first time at 15 I came out as bi. It was in a TGI Fridays, and I came out to my Dad. He was very confused. “Bi? Bi what? Bye?” After further explanation, he was still confused. I gave up for the evening. We then went to see The DaVinci Code.

    After just a few years I got so sick of people (friends, potential partners, complete randos) asking me which I liked more- men or women. I would make up percentages, forget what I said, and then say something different the next time.

    Since then I have hopped back and forth between “bi” and “lesbian” more times than I can count. Calling myself a lesbian is just easier, because I GENERALLY prefer women.

    That all gets messed up though when I inevitably fall for a guy. We’ll get together, it will go well, but then the thing will end, I will hate all men, and I will declare myself a lesbian again.

    Annnnnd the cycle keeps going.

    As of late, I have just been telling people that I am “attracted to both men and women.” That’s it. When they ask for details or percentages, I tell them it’s none of their business. And it’s not. Even partners. Every woman I’ve dated has been a lesbian, and a couple of them would get on my case about being bi. I’mdatingyourightnowwhatistheproblem.

  5. I kinda hate being non-monogomous and at the very least biromantic (if not bisexual, because I’m never sure I want to have sex with anyone), because it feels like I’m validating stereotypes, especially because I have a straight boyfriend/fuck buddy/platonic-ish male life partner. It’s especially interesting how many women are okay with non-monogomy when they would be the first relationship partner or there’ll only be women, but freak out at my boyfriend/fuck buddy/platonic-ish male life partner, even when they never have to meet him.

    • Same. I am bi and married to a cis straight man. Even though he and I have an open marriage and my dates never have to meet him, there are a lot of women, bi or lesbian, who won’t even consider it. When I add the fact that he’s rarely even in the same state, it still doesn’t change. Big sigh.

  6. I feel like some of the questioning of bi people could have to do with the intersection of politics, gender representation and sexuality that queer identities stand for. This variety of components mean that people seek out queer communities for a number of different reasons, of which sexual orientation may not be the most significant part. For example, I imagine that some hetero or mostly hetero women seek out same sex experiences out of a desire to avoid having to deal with the misogyny and rigid gender roles that one encounters the hetero dating scene, or are simply looking to explore the boundaries of the kind of intimacy offered by female friendships. Other primarily opposite-sex attracted people may just feel more comfortable presenting in a more masculine way than expected by hetero standards. In both of those cases, labeling yourself as bi might be easier than giving a complicated explanation. On the other hand, I also know gay-identified people who don’t connect with the community because they represent in a gender-typical way. As someone who identifies with different aspects of queer identities describing sexuality, gender, ideology and other non-normative traits but doesn’t fully embody any of them I can imagine that the kind of approach to queer identity I represent could be confusing to someone who mainly identifies as gay.

  7. (i don’t know how relevant this is here, but) as a bi person taking bi to mean “same and other genders,” i really can’t see myself dating a guy (i’m a dfab mostly feminine-presenting genderfluid person), which adds a whole new layer of weirdness in both reactions and what this section of the community has to deal with. i don’t really face that stigma in queer circles of being judged for different-gender relationships, because both my girlfriend and i are very visibly queer and non-binary, but there’s also the issue of not feeling a real sense of belonging within any community other than that of the general “queer” identifiers. i dunno, i’ve been floating between labels for a year and a half, and it’s hard to find anything that fits for that reason.

  8. I was in so much denial until I hit my 40’s! I was convinced that ALL women were attracted to other women (as well as men) but just not willing to admit it. I became the Co-chair of the LGBT Alliance at Utah Valley University when I was starting over after a 21 year marriage. I went into the club as a straight ally and a few months later admitted to myself (and my teenage kids) that I was bi. I came out at school by way of a photo campaign that I created for the club where we posted photos of members with “I’m gay UVU” or “I’m bi UVU”, etc. It was much better received than expected but also highlighted the discrimination faced by LGBT students on campus. When I came out to my dad he also didn’t want me telling anyone and I just told him I wasn’t going to hide anymore. I’ve run into all the stereotypes and have been fighting my own small battle for bi visibility ever since. Lesbians won’t date me (I’ve been on two dates with other women)…In the 3 YEARS I’ve been out. Many guys won’t date me or just want a threesome or to discuss kinky sex stuff. It’s frustrating. And kind of lonely. And dating sites like Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, etc… make your choose between lesbian or straight. So basically deny half of who your are. I also compare bisexuality to blonde or brunette preference. I did a whole presentation that addressed that for my Writing for Social Change class. We really need a public voice. Like our own documentary that shows the issues we face with biphobia/invisibility. I’d like to be part of the solution. But I’m just one voice.

      • @layna Thanks! I just wish I could do more. I’m trying to find people willing to share their stories with me so I can try putting together a script for a documentary, on Bisexual Invisibility, and help change societies views. Like Bridegroom. Something really moving, yet relatable. It’s hard enough finding (out) bisexual people in general. It is really hard here :p. So I’ve tried branching out to reach people outside my circle since most of my friends are L, G, and T. Nice to meet someone from my neck of the woods

  9. @Beck: Yeah, I really understand what you mean. I was hesitant to post in the Bi thread at all, because I really feel like bisexual doesn’t work for me as a descriptor because my attractions change in function of the gender I am, and also because every bi experience here is about being a woman attracted to men and women (plus nonbinaries for those who include it). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, more that it’s just not something I can relate to at all.
    I like girls, always liked girls, whatever gender I am, but I also discovered I like boys when I am one. There’s no word for that. I just feel like I’m a wierdo, not a part of an acronym for anything.

    • You’re not the only one! I know several lesbian-identified women who read/write slash fiction about men. They aren’t interested in being with men as women, but as a male character they are. The gender power differential between a man and woman, being subject to the patriarchy-reinforced male gaze… it’s real. And I bet a lot of butch women-loving women have their gender identities tied up in that attraction, too. I mean, why do we even associate butch presentation with queer orientation? Because for many butch people, they’re related.

  10. This is the hardest conversation because it’s the realest conversation. I tried to make the lesbian label fit me for years and I couldn’t understand why it didn’t feel comfortable. I stared out thinking I were bisexual, but felt pressured to “pick a side” (ew ew ew) so I halfheartedly picked the lesbian one. But queer fit me better. I think I’m a Kinsey 4 at this point, and that is totally fine by me!

    At 22 I’m (still) working on understanding my queer/bi identity and how it is only up to ME to define/not define who I am. Somone who identifies as bi themselves even tried to convince me I’m a lesbian, not queer/bi. They are out of my life now. I am starting to realize I’ve probably been bi all or most of my life and that is fine/great/okay.

  11. So grateful for this!
    Most people that have come to know me in the past years have always known me as a “straight woman”, since my guy and I have been together for 7 years. I was never comfortable about being perceived as straight, since I thought I was gay for the longest time before I started dating my boyfriend. What isn’t visible to people, when I hold my guy’s hand, is my teenage years full of torment, and crying myself to sleep over my gay feelings.

    I ended up living the het life for a few years. I had only a few friends, and my boyfriend who were “in the know” about my orientation. But at some point things got heavier for me, and I needed to “get out” for real.

    How I came out basically, is that people were questionning my straightness anyways. I wasn’t very good at hiding the gay. I also really wanted to be visible, but always felt to shy to claim a part of the LGBT blanket for myself.

    I ended up feeling very anxious about wether I should be blunt about it or not. My boyfriend, who is my best ally, suggested I should stop being afraid of peoples reaction, and he even suggested I should come out to my mom.

    I pondered it for myself, and eventually took the steps one at a time. Tell X, a close friend. Then tell Y, a good friend. Then tell Z, a new friend who’s very fun and trustworthy. I slowly got “used” to the coming out process.

    Then I told my mom. Hard, but worth it.

    I’m now out to most people, and even though there are still the ones who question it, or seem to believe (though they won’t say it to my face) that it’s a phase or attention-seeking thing, it makes life much more easier to navigate.

    Now I have people who treat me like I am queer, and who are really wonderful. And I also have people who “respect it” if they aren’t exactly sure what it “means”. All around, life is better, and getting questionned sometimes is, I find, better than being erased all the time.

    Autostraddle, you get all the bi allyship cookies!

    Xxxx

  12. I have been reading Autostraddle for years now, and this is the first time I have dared to actually sign up and create a profile. I always felt like I couldn’t really contribute to any conversations on here because pretty much everyone on here is American and has American experiences, and it’s just very different from everything I ever run into in the Netherlands. But I signed up so I could comment on this thread, because it is resonating with something deep inside me.

    Just like many other commenters I have been identifying as gay for ages, and I thought it was me! Even though I never liked the word ‘lesbian’ at ALL, and although I have found men sexually attractive since I became aware that sexual attraction was a thing, I always just kinda.. wrote it off? As something that can’t possibly be important, because I never fell in love with a guy. (And I still think I would have a very, very hard time falling in love with a straight guy. Just. Ugh, no way!) I liked “gay” because it was an easy way to get my point across to people that HEYY I am really, very queer, and don’t you see my buzzed off hair and my dapper clothes???

    But I am getting tired of the way that the gay community is so.. binary, in a way. And so shitty toward bi or pan people. I feel like trying to embrace my attraction to men and nonbinary people is sort of an upgrade in queerness, like I am finding a little bit more of myself and thereby reaching the Ultimate Queer Version of myself. But I am too scared to come out to ANYONE, because I am afraid that people will see it, instead, as a downgrade. Like they will say “Oh, so you’re only half gay?” This is, of course, RIDICULOUS, but the fear is there and it is real, and only my (bi) roommate knows that I am even considering identifying as bisexual.

    Like others have said as well, the whole WORD bisexual feels weird in my mouth, but I know it is the best I’ve got (since pansexual just doesn’t fit me at all), and I am trying to use it to identify myself at least privately, so that I know for myself that I am not only attracted to women, and it is OKAY, and I am still super queer. I’m going to put up a “being bisexual is a job too!” poster in our kitchen soon (it sounds better in Dutch, I swear), and I hope I will gradually become more comfortable with the label, and soon we can announce we are an “all-bi household” or some shit like that.

    Writing this comment helped a lot (although probably not many people will see it, seeing as I’m kinda late to this article!), and I would like to thank you all for this really great piece, with this really great comment thread, on this really great site. A site that helped me realise my queerness when I was 15 and is still helping me realise it now.

  13. AS a young bisexual I have had a bit trouble since coming out. Not so much hate but rather a perpetuation of the stereotypes associated to bisexuals coming towards me. Because of my age (came out at 15) I’ve had a lot of ‘you’re just confused’ or ‘its just a stage’. I know many people like myself who have decided only to come out to certain people because of this. The there’s the constant ‘well you’re dating a girl so you’re gay’. It’ wasn’t easy at all coming out as bi even now. It seems like every time someone hears about it or finds out I have to explain it to them all over again. But it’s all worth it to help educate and stop the spread of ignorance. Places like this site helped me to realise that that’s the right thing to do in that situation instead of try ignore it.
    I’m so grateful for articles like this letting me know it’s not just me but other people too and it’s given me new ways to describe it. I’ve gone for the whole ice cream and donut metaphor for ages now but the hair colour one is a new one I can use.

    • Hey Cait, I’m late in this article too. Your comment really resonated with me. At 15, three of my close friends were bisexual, three were gay, and one was M to F transgender. It would have been the perfect space to come out, yet I was not at all ready to face the world especially since I couldn’t (and still can’t) identify one way or the other.

      During college I discovered a dynamic where girl-on-action was frequent at parties and always was a means toward gaining attention from boys. My friends and I thought it was trivial but we still attended the parties. I later started dating a girl, and when we held hands or kissed each other in public we received unwanted attention from boys and were ostracized from other girls. When the boys realized we weren’t putting on a show for them, they began ignoring us and stopped wanting to hang out on weekends or study together, etc. After graduating college I’ve reflected on this a lot, and wish I’d been more open about my sexuality in high school, considering the queer-friendly environment.

  14. I’ve come out as bisexual to only 5 important people in my life. So basically I’m closeted. Every other day I experience anxiety about the fact that my actual photo is my profile pic on Autostraddle and my boss [or my grandmother] might see it. At least once a week I consider deleting my Dattch profile. This probably stems from the time in 6th grade when I was sent to the principal’s office for taking a quiz on a site about the Kinsey scale during recess in the computer lab. I’ve dated lots of people but my only significant (6-year) relationship wasn’t with a girl. A couple of the people I attempted to discuss this with either told me I was confused, experimenting, or not yet through with the “gay until graduation” phase. It’s reassuring to read this and articles by other people who also recognize bisexuality as a real thing and not merely the product of “club kid culture” or “lack of boundaries”(I recently heard both, in those exact words).

    I think clothing, hairstyle, and overall appearance have placed me in both categories: “straight” and “gay”, depending on the year or my mood one month or on a particular day, even. I’ve cut my own hair for years, and when I did the “undercut” (this was literally a week before Miley Cyrus did it) I was called Miley at work for days. Interestingly, I also got more respect. I was working at a music festival as a production assistant, and suddenly after cutting my hair I was offered extra shifts on stage crew doing manual labor. These were shifts I had to beg for before. I also received fewer sexual advances from men on touring crews. They treated me like less of a princess. Nothing about my personality, demeanor, or wardrobe had changed. When I worked hospitality for a show for which the headliner was a woman who dates women I felt a different vibe from her than I did when I worked her show the previous year. Upon receiving backlash from my more recent job and my family about the undercut I let it grow out.

    I don’t feel as if my style is a representation of my sexual orientation. I’m still trying to navigate it, and I’m not sure I need to let my style be an outlet for showing the world who I am. Maybe that’s the closet factor, but perhaps it’s not. I haven’t worn a dress, heels, or lipstick in over two years, but I often wear mascara, I shave, and I’m kind of obsessive about the shape of my eyebrows. Clearly, those things shouldn’t pinpoint one’s orientation…but the many people in many societies would say otherwise.

  15. Thank you all! I read this article when it was first posted and just read it again along with all of the comments. It’s wonderful to hear your voices. You’ve helped me feel very solid, which makes me realize that I had been feeling a bit fragmented.

    This is why I love AS, well … this and the goat cheese recipes, obvs :)

  16. I love how I’m a male looking for affirmation that this process is also possible for men, and not a single story or comment from a man (or I should say, cis male). I’m deeply committed to a hetero relationship, and have been for 7 years. I know my thing for men is not merely a fetish, and I would consider a relationship with anyone I felt affection for. I’m not really sure what “love” is anymore, but I wasn’t aware your sexual orientation required that at some point you’ve fallen in love with the genders you’re 100% positive you’re attracted to. I’ve had sex with men, been obsessed with gay sex for periods, but if I’m bi or pansexual I wouldn’t need to be attracted to every type of man, every possible form and degree of gender expression, would I? A gay man doesn’t have to be attracted to bears to be gay, so why should I have to in order to be bi? Just because I’ve never fallen in love with a man doesn’t mean I’m “just confused” does it? I want to come out, I want to share this with people, I want to be able to openly express these things, at least to the people I’m close to. I shouldn’t have to bite my tongue anymore, but I think people will reject me because I can’t prove that I’m attracted to men, because I am in and have been in an exclusive relationship.

    • Hi Robert,

      This is a site catering to queer women, so don’t be discouraged by the lack of dudes commenting on here: you are absolutely not alone! I think the pressures/challenges on bi men are a bit different and make visibility possibly even harder for bi men.

      But people doubting your identity because of who you are dating is something addressed in this thread also: http://www.autostraddle.com/we-see-you-an-open-thread-for-bisexual-women-dating-men-300258/ Again, it’s specifically about women but the basis of the problem is the same, so maybe the comments would be of help to you.

      At the end of the day, you define yourself. It’s bullshit for anyone to try to make a checklist that you have to fill for them to accept how you define yourself. You definitely don’t have to like a certain type of man or have been in love etc. to know you are bi.

      Sending good thoughts your way that you get to have the conversations you want to have and find the acceptance you deserve.

  17. My story is different than Robert’s. I knew I was different than other males in high school but I didn’t understand until, after hanging around with a couple of girls, that I met one boy who “turned my key”. I wanted him badly, but in the homophobic south of the 80s that would have likely been a disaster for both of us. I instead kept him at arms length to keep us safe and I buried those feeling deep. When he killed himself a few year later I couldn’t grieve, I pushed that down too. I thought “out of sight, out of mind”. My romantic life in college was completely disastrous! Every women I tried to date ended up hating me. I realize now it was self sabotage. I later married, divorced, and remarried. I realized that I love the person, not the sex organs. If my romantic partner had a vagina or penis or something in between, or neither, I know that’s not a deal breaker for me. The only reason I dated only women is that I live far away from the gay neighborhoods, the only men that would be interested in me. Where I live dating and marrying single straight women was easy because there are so many of them around me. I only came out to myself when all of the buried feelings and losses that has accumulated year after year exploded in March. I finally owned up to who I really was, bisexual, and came out to some close friends, my wife (she is in denial, but that’s fine), a lesbian co-worker (who came out last year herself) and my lesbian sister. I learned one of my friends is asexual. She is married and has one child but she views the occasional sex as something to give her husband pleasure, not for herself. I have looked in the internet forums and finding any advice for bisexuals are overwhelmingly females. I felt invisible since the very little written about bi males is false and insulting. I am a bisexual, monogamous, never had sex with a male, and I am “clean”. I am not “greedy” or dirty or unfaithful. I am confused on how to come out while respecting my wife’s denial. Our marriage is too important to have that issue hurt it. I will give her time. I just wish coming out to family and work was easier. I remember the fighting that forced my sister out for coming out as a lesbian. My family is deeply Catholic and may not understand. There is no guidance, that I have found, on how to deal with my situation.

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