You Need Help: Why Be Out As Bisexual?

Q:

Howdy! I’m an out and proud bisexual woman. A good friend of mine who identifies as lesbian recently asked me why bi+ folx don’t just stay closeted and in hetero relationships to avoid the prejudice, pain, and judgement that so often comes with being gay. I was a bit taken aback by this question. I talked to her about that a lot of bi+ folx don’t come out, possibly for that reason; finding community for myself in queer spaces; that dating men vs dating women isn’t just substituting genitalia; that I feel different levels of attraction to different genders; mental health in the bi+ community; that being out is important to break heteronormativity and that we should all be fighting to crush it; etc etc. But she still feels like she doesn’t get why someone would “choose” to date someone of the same sex if they didn’t “have” to because of being gay.

These conversations have been challenging my perspective on being out as bi+. I struggle with classic bi mental gymnastics of “am I queer enough,” and I’ve started to wonder, “Why do I date women if I don’t have to? Am I forcing space in queer community for some reason?” The question is really screwing with my brain. Could you provide some outside perspective on why other bi+ folx come out or bother to not be in straight-appearing relationships? As someone who mostly knows folx who identify as either gay or straight, it would help me to get outside of my own perspective. Thanks!!


Oh friend, this sounds like a really difficult conversation, especially given that this is someone queer that you love and trust. And I feel like the question of “why would someone come out when they could stay in the closet” is inherently problematic, and I’ll get to that in a moment, but I want to start by celebrating this particular identity that we share.

Bisexuality is beautiful, and nuanced, and complex, and frequently misunderstood. As bisexual, pansexual, and/or sexually fluid people, we can have so many different kinds of relationships, attractions, and communities; can connect with people in a wide variety of ways; can participate in self-love and self-discovery through all sorts of experiences. I’ve learned so much about myself through relationships with people of different genders, and I love that I can be attracted to all different kinds of people, with different identities and different kinds of lives. To me, that’s not a problematic thing that we have to hide — it’s something wonderful that we should get to celebrate and explore.

I think it’s odd to assume that people only come out so that they can date people of a different gender or identity than they did before. There are dozens and dozens of reasons to come out, but I think “because I wanted to” is a perfectly valid one. Sometimes we simply want to be seen for the full and complete person that we are, and coming out allows us to do that no matter who we’re dating. Bisexuality is a perfectly valid identity to claim, and doesn’t have to be tied to who you choose (or choose not) to date. I also think that seeing bisexual people as somehow “choosing to suffer” as out and queer (as opposed to the suffering that your friend seems to want us to do by pretending to be someone we’re not, or willingly hiding our identities in “straight-passing” relationships because it’s allegedly “easier”) is a really specific way of viewing the world, and completely overlooks the erasure that our communities so often face in queer spaces.

We get to be in relationships, romantic or otherwise, with whoever we like. It’s a privilege that we have, a joy, a gift. Being bisexual is a queer identity, just like being a lesbian is — and your friend making you question yourself for wanting to be out, acting like you’re “not as queer” because you somehow have the option to opt-out of her definition of queer relationships, to me feels like an insensitive and even harmful thing.

You belong in queer community. You are part of the queer community. You are queer enough. Bisexuality is valid. Being out is a choice you get to make, for absolutely any reason you like – even if it’s just because you want to be.

What does the world gain from having more struggling, closeted bisexuals hiding in straight-passing relationships, or pretending to be something that they’re not? How could that possibly be better than people celebrating the full magic of who they are?


Rachel , Interm Literature Editor

I’ve been thinking about why this question your friend posed feels so odd to me — it has the ring of one of those intended gotcha questions that people ask to try to prove a point, although I think from context it sounds like it was meant genuinely. What I am trying to puzzle through in response to wondering why a bisexual person would ever be open about bisexuality (which is different than the question of why we would date someone else queer, though we’ll get to that) is how that’s different than really any other choice we make about self-disclosure.

There’s a thread of social narrative around bisexuality that figures it as something exotic, totally unique in terms of identity formation, an edge case — in reality, there are a lot of identities or even behaviors that can offer us community, connection, or pleasure in some contexts and isolation or stigma in others. Why do people share their political values publicly when that could cause conflict with some people in their life? Why would anyone talk about their kink life with vanilla friends they aren’t going to have sex with when it could lead to stigma? Why would anyone, say, disclose past trauma when it’s scary and vulnerable and isn’t going to make the trauma go away?

Put this way, the answers are, I think, pretty obvious — they’re the same as what Meg talks about eloquently above, and are pretty commonsense. Emotional intimacy and authentic connection, even casually, are basic human needs, and they aren’t possible without sharing our internal experiences with others, so we sometimes make the considered choice to do so despite risk. In all the examples I just shared, there are also people who choose to never do those things, and in those cases, I think we also consider the reasons pretty clear: they considered the risk and it wasn’t worth it to them; their assessment of the possibility of the shame seemed more urgent than their assessment of the possibility of connection.

What I find interesting about your friend’s question is that the option to “stay closeted and in hetero relationships” isn’t at all exclusive to bisexuals — in fact, it’s historically been so common for gay or lesbian people that we have an entire vocabulary and community history around it, like ‘lavender marriages.’ Gay and lesbian people still do this! Tragically, it’s a pretty common shared experience between everyone in the LGBTQ neighborhood. But there’s something about bisexuality that non-bisexual people project a lot of their fears and hopes and questions onto (much like how cis people tend to with trans people), maybe because it’s positioned as ‘other’ to everything else. So we become the focus of these questions that aren’t really about us in specific at all.

What it sounds to me like your friend is projecting, and what they really mean, is “I can’t imagine a situation where I can be openly gay and dating other gay people and also happy; they feel mutually exclusive, and yet being closeted also feels incredibly painful. I sometimes wish I could decide to live as a straight person and still have a romantic partner, or could just be straight full stop. Why don’t you feel the same way? What’s your secret?” This is a really real feeling, and I feel for your friend! They seem to think this is an obvious and intuitive point of view, and I think part of why you’re struggling is that you don’t share it on a fundamental level; you’re talking about different things. Another way of putting this is that your friend has a different experience of the relative balance of danger & reward when it comes to this particular risk of vulnerability, and they want to understand why, or maybe more accurately how. (This is not, again, a dig at or criticism of your friend — I’m certain they have lived experiences that make this a really reasonable position to be in, as a lot of us do!)

I think this is a longwinded way of saying that in answer to your stated question, bi people come out and date other queer people for the same reasons every other queer person does; because we want to be happy and fully seen and part of our community, and have fulfilling relationships! A different question is ‘what does it mean for larger cultural perceptions of queerness in general and bisexuality in particular when we actively choose queer communities and relationships, and find working through our internalized biphobia and dealing with external biphobia preferable to being closeted?’ What do people have to grapple with when they see us doing that? What narratives does it contradict, what assumptions does it trouble? Much to think about!


Nicole Hall, A+ & Fundraising Director

When I saw this question. I had to think about it for several days, if we’re being honest. I’m so sorry that your friend is being like this. It sounds like you’ve really outlined everything else that I’m about to with her, but you also wrote in, so, I hope this is helpful.

Why not live as a presumed-straight or closeted person when you’re bi+? Why come out?

So, One: I feel for your friend here because if I’m reading between the lines of her question, it sounds like she hasn’t really internalized that it’s really great to be gay. Like, I feel deeply sad for people in opposite sex seeming relationships who feel like they can’t participate in queer culture (HELLO YOU CAN IF YOU WANT AND I HOPE YOU WILL) because it’s a gift to be gay and to know gay people. Also, for gay people who maybe feel like they don’t belong. This comes up for me because it seems like your friend is maybe not seeing value in participating in queer culture and being able to be in queer spaces when you are queer… so I just want to validate you for a second that having access to these spaces is really important for bisexual people and that bisexual people are also an important part of queer community!

Also like… if straight people are hostile enough to your friend that she wonders whether not being out would be a better solution, I invite you to flip that question on its head. If straight people are as terrible to lesbian / queer / bi+ folks as she has experienced, why should she want to center her life around them? Why should you? I personally have found that my life is made better by centering queer community whereas centering straightness can feel like throwing my time and attention into an abyss.

Two: Bisexual people already have elevated levels of intersecting mental health challenges compared to both straights and lesbians. I know you probably brought this up with your friend and also maybe you know this on a personal level, too, so this is for her. Being in the closet is such a huge mental strain. It is really fucking hard on people. It is hard on bi+ people and it is hard on lesbian people. She came out, didn’t she? I know some people have to be or choose to be closeted for a variety of reasons, and while that is valid and can sometimes be the safest choice (mentally or otherwise), that doesn’t make it inherently easier.

Honestly, as Rachel wisely pointed out, the same question could apply to her. Plenty of lesbians have just put up with relationships with cis men, whether because they didn’t realize they were gay or because they didn’t want to come out for reasons that make sense to them and their situations or some combination of the two. It might be helpful for her to contemplate that this is actually an option for her, too. Right now. I would like for her to sit with the feelings that brings up and to think through why she doesn’t want to do that, why she hasn’t done that by now. Likely, they are very similar to your feelings on the topic.

Three: Can your friend control who they crush on? It sounds like she thinks that bisexual people can. Bisexuals may be amazing but we do not also have the secret superpower of being able to target our desires onto a specific person chosen via a cold calculus of privilege maximization. Again, you can choose a partner for privilege. I have been watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which features this phenomenon. However, I really don’t think that you can direct attraction in the same manner. Again, I am going to argue here that choosing to be with a cis straight man because of privilege is really not that much of a fundamentally different experience for a bisexual person as it would be a for a lesbian because you’re not choosing your partner based on your mutual attraction and affection or shared values, but based on other societal and financial factors. Just like lesbians aren’t attracted to EACH AND EVERY woman in the world, bisexuals are not attracted to ALL cis straight men — and we sometimes aren’t into them at all. So, being bisexual doesn’t inherently make this kind of life decision any easier.

Finally, it sounds like your friend has some anger or hurt to work out, but this is not your responsibility, even if it has, for this moment, found bisexuality (and by that virtue, you) as its target. From talking to a lot of people who seem to want to misdirect their anger (because, look, there are a lot of things to actually be angry with, but bisexuality is really not one of them), sometimes you can’t talk them out of it. You cannot really do anything to help someone realize that the call is coming from inside the house when they seem to want so badly not to believe that is the case! They have to figure that out on their own, or not.

My hopes for YOU are that you feel validated by this roundtable. You are awesome and belong in queer community. Queer community is better for the inclusion of bi+ folks. Hard stop. And yes to everything you’ve said about crushing the heteropatriarchy and fighting heterosexuality as a societal default. I hope that you establish whatever boundaries you need to with this friendship to feel healthy and secure and to not have to waste too much time or energy on topics that your friend can educate herself about on this very internet.

Sending you so much love!!!


Adrian , Contributor

You have already offered numerous reasons why being out as bisexual is a life-giving, system-disrupting, community-oriented, and extremely hot decision. It seems like you’ve accepted that nothing you can say to your friend can make her change her mind (I hope she gets the help she needs to heal her internalized homophobia, but you are almost certainly unqualified to provide that). My brilliant colleagues have already offered excellent advice re: her, so I’m going to focus on you.

The trap of “just be straight if you have that option” me in the closet (first as bisexual and later as trans) for several years, and here’s what I had to accept in order to leave it behind: being queer is good, actually. It’s not a tragic accident, and it’s not something we can only have if it is an unavoidable genetic or ontological fact. We don’t have to apologize for it or make it smaller. It is a net positive for me and for you and for the people around us when we dazzle the world with our bisexual brilliance.

Bisexuality doesn’t just impact our relationship configurations. It affects the way we relate to others, the way we connect to our bodies, the way we exist in creation, and the way we see the world around us. When we lean into the expansive possibilities of queerness, we make the world bigger and bolder and more beautiful. When we do so visibly, we set other people free. And when the alternative is self-denial and closets? I mean, that’s barely a choice. Of course it’s not so simple (plenty of LGBTQ+ people compartmentalize their lives for reasons of safety or preference). But from your question, it seems pretty clear that the path of vulnerability, curiosity, and community will take you where you want to go. Shine bright, beloved.


KaeLyn Rich, Writer

Oh, don’t mind me. Just over here reading your question and my fellow beautiful bisexual babes’ answers and, like, OOF. My dearest heart, I can’t add much to what others have said about your friend and how they’re projecting onto you. What I want to address is this line in your original question: “As someone who mostly knows folx who identify as either gay or straight, it would help me…”

It may be true that your network is mainly gay or straight people that are very secure in those identities in a truly binary gender way. I want you to know, though, that you are not a rare bird, a square peg, or even a very precious unicorn. Bisexuals are everywhere.

We are the marginalized majority in the LGBTQ alphabet soup. Because of lack of representation, internalized biphobia, pressure from all sides to stay in the closet, and the complexity of non-monosexual identities, we are misunderstood to be the minority in queer spaces. Babe, we dominate the space. Bisexual people comprise more than half of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States. There are more of us than there are gay men or lesbian women. The bisexual erasure and stigma is real.

I’m guessing you already know all of this because you seem like someone who stays up to date on your bi facts based on the whole college education you gave your well-meaning friend. That said, I want to encourage you to find your bisexual network within the queer community. We are out here and those of us who are able to be and choose to be out and proud as bi/pan/non-monosexual sometimes feel like we’re the only ones in a queer space. It just isn’t true. In fact, it’s possible some of your gay friends are actually not monosexual if you dig a little deeper into their sexual identity.

It’s also possible you need a new space, new relationships with other bi folx who can understand you in a way that monosexuals can’t. Check for bisexual meet-up or support groups in your area (maybe meeting virtually in these times). Follow bisexual influencers. Intentionally seek bisexual friends. Also, just look around you. Some of your married straight-passing friends with kids are bisexual. Some of your lesbian-passing married friends are bisexual. Some of your neighbors are, too. Many of your friends who self-id as queer are actually pansexual or bisexual in terms of sexual attraction. I just know in my heart that this is true, but even if I’m wrong, find your bisexual community.

I promise you, you can’t live your best life as an out and proud bisexual without a gaggle of fellow bisexuals by your side. Think about making space in your life for bi-inclusive spaces where you don’t have to educate others about your bisexuality, prove you are queer enough, or answer biphobic questions. Even if that means seeking out some new, fulfilling friendships and reducing time spent on ones that aren’t supporting your growth. We’re here, we’re bisexual queers, you know the rest.


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Meg is a freelance photographer, writer, and tarot reader living in New York City.

Meg has written 66 articles for us.

31 Comments

  1. what I really don’t understand about that friend’s question is like…as if we bisexuals have any more choice in who we fall in love with than lesbians?? like, tbh, I’m a romantic, and I fall in love with who I fall in love with, and it often feels more like fate than like a conscious choice?? why should I try to stifle love? also, it ignores all the different complex levels of attraction that different bisexual people experience. It’s not like we always feel the same level of attraction to all genders?? like, I thought I was a lesbian until I realized I’m a trans person recently, and that’s when I also started to fall in love with men and pursuing relationships with them, but, tbh, I still think it’s more likely that I will someday marry a woman, because that is where most of my attraction has been for most of my life, and, like,I mean if I marry a man that’s cool, but like, this is very new to me. It’s not like I can suddenly choose to not be attracted to women anymore because it seems easier! But I will not try to ignore my newfound attraction to men, I will not hide the fact that, surprise, I’m actually bi, and I enjoy that these opens up more dating options for me and I love being bi, but this person simply doesnt know what bisexuality is, apparently, and the complex relationship we can all have with this word and our sexuality.

    • A (cis female) friend once started an ill-advised debate about trans athletes, and another friend chimed in with an eye roll and “can’t we just leave trans people alone?” That’s how I would want an ally to respond. Can’t we just leave gay people alone? Can’t we just leave bi people alone? Can’t we just let each other be? Can’t we trust that we are all doing what’s best for us and trying our darnedest? Nobody owes anyone an explanation. But friends do owe each other their trust.

  2. Here’s my answer to why bother coming out as bi+.

    I came out as bi twice, the first time in my early 20s, when I figured it out. And the second time in my mid to late 40s, after I realized that everyone (and I do mean everyone) in my life assumed that I was straight because I married a (straight cis) man when I was 31.

    And it wasn’t a good feeling. I felt like I was living a lie of omission. I also felt like I was letting down my team – I came of age watching Harvey Milk documentaries and believing that coming out was an act of service, a civic duty of sorts. But I’m a private person and I don’t tend to talk about my personal life and talking about the fact that I’d once dated (or attempted to date) women seemed like TMI once I was in a monogamous marriage and no longer attempting to date anybody.

    So I ended up bi-erasing my identity and realizing that I didn’t want to live like that. Yes, I was enjoying the privilege of being in a straight couple but since I am not actually straight, acting straight or letting people assume that I’m straight wasn’t exactly enjoyable or comfortable.

    Several years later, I’m a 51 year old out and proud bi woman, with strong connections to the queer and bi+ communities and I’m about to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary with my awesome husband. Being out can be a hassle and brings some danger but I would not go back into my bi-erased bubble.

    Some people seem to define bisexuality as something that one does but for me, it’s part of who I am. It’s not the only part, but it’s an important part and hiding it doesn’t feel right.

    • “And the second time in my mid to late 40s, after I realized that everyone (and I do mean everyone) in my life assumed that I was straight because I married a (straight cis) man when I was 31.”

      AAAAh THIS! I am a 32 year old cis woman, and married to a cishet man. When I was younger, and was much more involved in nightlife, I was the token f*hag, the “straight” girl that just hung out. I feel like no-one took bisexuality very seriously at all, and in fact, I distinctly remember having a conversation with an older gay man that I really respected (a mentor-type figure at that stage in life), and he told me that bisexuals were just “lazy gays” or will just grow out of it at some point. It really stuck with me, and I think I just assumed that I was going to “grow out of it” at some point. I think because of this, I really missed out, and once I realised that I wasn’t goint to grow out of it, I had a mourning period for “what could have been” (like, that girl that I was super close with in my twenties who I “drunkenly” made out with regularly; looking back, we both had a thing for each other). Like you, I’m now married, and we are monogamous, which means that I guess I won’t really get to explore that.

      I find out that I have a trans little brother who is mainly attracted to women(I always knew he was queer, but wanted to let him come out and clarify on his own time), and I always feel so torn about how to talk about myself, or if I even should? Like the OP, I struggle with the imposter syndrome of “Am I queer enough?” and it’s funny because I think I felt more at home in queer spaces as the token “straight girl” than I do as a bisexual. Because I’ve never been outwardly queer (both of my long-term relationships have been with cis-het men), I feel awkward taking up space with my straight-passing-privilege.

  3. Everything everyone wrote in the post and the comments is brilliant <3

    One additional point I would make, with respect to dating straight (cis) men specifically — given the choice* between having queerness something I have in common with a partner, and something that we don't share, I will choose a queer partner every time! Note that this doesn't just mean queer women — lots of men are bi+ and I am very grateful they exist.

    *definitely what everyone said about having little-to-no choice over which individuals they happen to be romantically and/or sexually interested is very valid, and I would contend, broadly applicable. But in terms of "purposefully seeking out partners" stuff like internet dating and so on, one can chose to a greater extent what genders and/or sexualities of people one encounters :)

  4. Because, especially as an biracial asian woman, my bisexuality needs to be talked about and not closeted. I was a part of a queer AAPI zoom get together and in both the queer and the AAPI capacity, my voice gets so easily marginalized – not queer enough, not asian enough. When the reality is, it’s always the fringed, the refugees, the outcasts that have to work just as hard to do the research to prove they belong. I’m not surprised another queer person asked this, I wish I knew what they wanted. “Oh, you’re RIGHT! I’m actually GAY. Stupid me picking this flag up because it looks cute on me. You mean I’m NOT supposed to find everyone in But I’m a Cheerleader hot? Whoops!”

  5. these were all such kind and loving and generous responses… reading this was like getting a hug i didn’t know i needed! <3

    i hope LW finds some more bi pals to share this part of her life with… and i hope her friend finds some peace, too!

  6. hank you for this roundtable! Even as a person who loves being bisexual, seeing this conversation and feeling supported and validated in my identity is still so important. And that in itself is impetus to be Out–to find other bi+ people, and be in community, and share a wide range of experiences.

    Because I think of my bisexuality as a cool feature of my identity and personality, I also would want my partners to feel the same way about it. I don’t think I could be in a “straight passing” relationship with a cis dude who didn’t want to discuss Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual’s latest photo-shoot, or why I can’t sit in a chair properly, or David Bowie’s romantic friendships etc. etc.

    And that openness, that ability to be myself in all possible ways, is 100% worth whatever “suffering” or vulnerability can come with being Out. I hope the LW’s friend figures that out about her own identity, in whatever way works for her.

  7. “But she still feels like she doesn’t get why someone would “choose” to date someone of the same sex if they didn’t “have” to because of being gay.”

    This is such a red flag for internalized homophobia and sexuality-related trauma. Your friend has not yet accepted herself so she is pushing her own baggage onto bisexuals. She is jealous of a fantasy she has created of you, which prevents her from seeing you as a whole person. It sounds like she’s in a lot of pain, no doubt because she’s had a terrible time of it with her own journey, and pain does not always breed empathy. I’ve never met a well-adjusted biphobic gay person. It always says more about them than it does about bisexuals.

  8. Hihi, here waving my “married to a cis straight dude, has a kid with him, *still very bi thank you very much*” flag. I’m in my mid-40s, wasn’t out to anyone but husband (and ex) until about five or six years ago, for reasons that I now realize were just our good friend internalized biphobia. “But coming out would make it all about me, that’s inappropriate.” “But I’ve never even told a girl I liked her, I’m not queer enough to be out.” “But I love my husband and don’t plan to date or have sex with anyone else so it doesn’t matter.”

    Bulllllllllllllshiiiiiiiiiiit. I feel so much better now. I’m not contorting my life to make sure that at no point does anyone ever catch me staring at a woman for a split-second too long or with the wrong nuance of facial expression. I have fantastic queer community. (Shout-out to my AS Discord spinoffs peeps, lifelong gratitude to AS for the quality of writing, the community in the comments and starting the pop-up Discord servers.) If my kid or my nieces or nephew ever need to talk or just know a bi person, they can and they do.

    There are many things in life I don’t have figured out, but being bi is fantastic, I’m so glad I’m queer and out, you couldn’t pay me to go back in the closet. LW, I hope your friend figures out her own internalized bi/homophobia and gets to a better place. Her question doesn’t really have anything to do with you at all. You’re already great and you belong here. Say hi on the next AS pop-up Discord!

  9. [Re the bisexual-critiquing “friend”] “it sounds like she hasn’t really internalized that it’s really great to be gay”: Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!

    Ah, queer self-hatred: what haven’t you f_cked up among already f_cked-over queer people?

  10. Ooof. I have a lot of thoughts about this. I can see why someone might stay closeted. Coming out cost me a friend and later cost me a job opportunity.

    I’ve also seen the opposite of this question; an acquaintance was berated, as a bisexual woman, for dating men. These people insisted that she had a ‘responsibility’ to dare women if she was attracted to women.

    I’ve seen a lot of people say that bisexuals in straight passing relationships only come out for attention.

    There are lesbian women who are open about the fact that they consider bisexuals tainted, greedy, and definitely going to cheat.

    Finally, the ever charming Dan Savage insists that closeted bisexuals are cowards who are fuelling, and responsible for, biphobia.

    In short, bisexuals cannot win, and there’s a reason why our mental health is often affected. I often wish I were more indifferent to other people’s opinions.

  11. I also think that it’s important to note that even for some of us bi people in relationships with cis men, we don’t necessarily ‘pass’ as straight.

    When I am on my own or with friends seen as being the same sex, I am seen as queer. Even with my partner, we are sometimes seen as friends rather than in a relationship. Part of this is related to the fact that recently I have realised that I am enby (not to mention the intersecting discriminations of being a black person), but even before that, for the majority of my life I have been read as, and harassed for, being a noticeably queer person.

    I eventually came out after getting married in my 20s because it kind of felt ridiculous to not claim what seemed fairly obvious. It made me feel more whole and allowed me to appreciate my very queer body and queer attraction. I choose constantly to come out so that people know exactly who I am.

    I think we should really do away with this idea that some bi people are not only ‘straight-passing’, but also fully heteronormative in appearance, because it just isn’t true, and harms us as a group.

  12. I absolutely love being bi/pan. Your friend’s question reminds me of the way my mom cautioned me, with so much love, right when I first came out, “You know it might be harder, right?” I understand where that perspective comes from, and I am privileged and lucky to have been able to build a life where I’m fairly safe being completely myself, but I’ve found that despite the stigma lobbed from multiple sides, being bi+ has actually filled my life with so much joy and sometimes even ease that I wouldn’t have found if I were monosexual.

    I love being in queer community. Two years ago I brought my straight cis boyfriend to Dyke March and I can’t even describe how it felt when my queer friends embraced him with no questions and when he started learning from our community (when we got home he said, “Oh my god we, i.e. the straights, have been doing it all wrong”). My queer relationships and friendships have taught me not to accept the gender roles and expectations that don’t fit for me in cishet-passing relationships or sex. I will never tolerate a queer friend who can’t be fully my friend when I’m dating someone straight and cis, and I will certainly never date a straight cis boy who isn’t in love with my queerness, because then he’s not in love with me. I’ve actually found biphobia to be a clear and early sign of someone not being comfortable with themselves or able to live into anything other than a completely inherited social role, and to me these aren’t safe and thoughtful and empathetic people who I want to spend my time with.

    Being queer has taught me to embrace my complexity, to never make myself smaller or abandon myself (a lesson I really needed being socialized as an Asian woman), and to let go of baggage that doesn’t serve me. I get to experiment with my hair and my pronouns and buy the guy-marketed deodorant if I like it more and let the way I describe my identity evolve to fit better as I play and change and learn more about myself. I would not give this up for anything.

    It would be way harder and more harmful for me to live in a relationship where I’m not able to be fully queer, where I have to make myself smaller, than it’s been to live an extremely out life, whoever I am or am not dating. You are not forcing space in queer community, you are fully fully queer, and if it ever feels like you’re forcing space for yourself in a community, a relationship, a friendship, leave it and find one where you can feel whole. Even if you can’t find friends right now who are bi+ in person, follow us on Instagram, read bi+ authors (the bisexual categories of the Lambda Awards is a great place to start), make sure you’re somehow engaging with how normal and queer and vibrant and diverse our bi+ community is. Living as an out pan/bi/queer person has been the most fulfilling part of my life.

  13. hi there, im new here and been reading all of this with curiosity. This seems like a good place to share some thoughts about my own sexual identity so here i go. (sorry, my english is not my first language)
    for context: I’m a straight cis female, or I least that’s how i define myself. I’ve had sexual relationships in the past with females and I’ve liked it but I would never call myself bi because I feel It’s an Identity that don’t have since I know I only fallen in love with men, and somehow (obviously I can’t know what could happen in the future) but I know that men are what i’m attracted to in terms of relationships. But most of all, I feel that calling myself bi just because I’ve had some sexual experiences (good ones, but not meaningul enough to made me feel I need to change my identity) would be hypocrytical of me, something similar to cultural appropriation. And of course I know that I have priviledge for identifing as straight, but also I feel that if I were to call myself BI just for some random experiences it could result in me getting some kind of benefit from an experience of opression that other people had and I just didn’t, and for what? for wanting attention or wanting to feel a part of something thats hip right now like queer culture? Or feeling better in pride month, like I belong? I just feel it’s wrong, and it’s offensive to people that had a hard time because of their identities.
    The thing that resonates with me is when Meg saids about being bi that “We get to be in relationships, romantic or otherwise, with whoever we like”. But isnt’ that the case with any identity? doesnt lesbians get to be in relationships with whoever they choose? I define myself as straight and I also got to be with whoever I liked, men and women.
    I just have a hard time expressing this thoughts out loud for fear of hurting anyone’s feelings, but the bottomline is that I know a some people that call themselves BI when they mantein only straight relationships and I can’t help but feel that is wrong, its appropiating someone else’s suffering, someone else’s culture and is queer baiting.
    Am I making any sense? Thanks for the space, i’m sending love to u all.

    • Hi Mile! I’d just like to say that if you’ve “ had sexual relationships in the past with females and liked it,” I think there is absolutely space for you under the queer umbrella, and to “feel like you belong at Pride,” if that is ever space you feel you want to step into! 💙

      I’d also say that stepping into a bi or pan identity as a person with experiences like yours is absolutely NOT queerbaiting, which is something that a corporation like a television network might do, not something that we can perpetrate by identifying a certain way.

      • thank you so much for the kind words. I’ve been in pride marches here in argentina for a long time (I live in a really small and old fashioned town) with my gay friends from school, but from a few years back (2017 was my last) I stopped showing up because of 2 reasons:
        1) I felt my presence as an “ally” wasnt really necessary anymore because the number of people that attended were strong enough for me to not go just “to make numbers”
        2) I once read this sign that I’ts kind of hard to translate but it said “paki no es tu fiesta” (paki is like a slur for straight people that can have many connotations but is mostly derogatory) wich means “straight people this is not your party”. At first I thought it was kind of hutful cause I felt unwelcomed but then I saw the same thing happening in women’s marches when we didnt want any straight cis male showing up (I still think i dont want them there) and understood that this spaces were not my place.
        and tho I fully support LGBTQ+ rights in every way i can, i no longer attend pride marches. I miss them, tho :)

    • Hi Mile. Welcome to the conversation.

      What you’ve written is very familiar to me – I used to feel like I couldn’t identify as bi because I’d only had long term relationships with men and only a couple flings with women. And then I married a man and I really felt that it didn’t make sense to call myself bi.

      A few things happened to change my mind. I read about people who identify as bisexual and heteroromantic or homoromantic (they’re attracted to multiple genders but only fall in love with men or only fall in love with women, etc).

      I read Robyn Ochs’ very lovely and expansive definition of being bi.

      And I also just started to feel really uncomfortable with everyone in my life assuming that I was straight because I’m not actually straight.

      And I decided that I didn’t need to ask permission to at least look for queer community. I’m still finding my place but I’m so much happier now that I’ve claimed / reclaimed my bi identity.

    • Hey Mile,
      I differentiate between a “straight relationship” and “being in a relationship with a straight person.” I’m married to a cishet dude, but I am not in a straight relationship. My relationship has ME in it and therefore it is as delightfully queer as I want it to be.
      So, who do you feel like? Do you feel queer or bi or any other such label applies to your own subjective experience of the world and who you are? (You said explicitly that you define yourself as straight but your letter read to me like perhaps you say that because of concerns that you aren’t queer enough/bi enough.) If those labels resonate with you, you do not have to compose a 500-page thesis defending your right to them. Claim ’em, they’re yours, welcome aboard! Yes, many of us in the queer community have had varying levels and types of trauma, but who wants to be defined by it? I love having queer friends who are happy and doing ok.
      Maybe try for a week labeling yourself queer or bi or whatever label you’re attracted to, just in the privacy of your own head. “I’m doing these chores … the QUEER WAY!” “Look at me, a bi woman out in the world wearing a mask.” How does that make you feel?
      I hope you find an answer that makes you happy. Whatever that answer is, you are enough, and you being whoever you are doesn’t take away from anyone else.

  14. This is a lovely article! I wonder if Autostraddle are interested in knowing when their own content has been erasing of and exhausting to bi folks? I was recently very disappointed when the list of queer Olympic footballers didn’t mention or include bisexual players. There must be some & it was like that just wasn’t interesting enough to research. It would have been so cool and affirming to have a player’s bi-ness mentioned even if they currently have a male partner! Also, the article about queer movies to ‘make her break up with him’ was inherently devaluing of bi wlm’s valid attraction to & connections with men. And even this article does kind of a shy away from overtly supporting THAT aspect of being bi: that you can have fricken great, hot, loving and supportive relationships with cis dudes, and those relationships are fully part of your bi identity and truth too, not a shameful compromise or an obstacle to overcome. The comments embrace this, the article not so much. I would feel more supported by AS if your writing on bi-ness treated ALL our loving relationships as hot and valid, not just our relationships with women & nb people.

  15. Why is it important to come out as Bisexual? To normalize it.
    Because bisexuals still face all of the same homophobia and struggles that gays and lesbians do.
    Even if it’s slightly less in a straight relationship, being a fetish, being told to suppress,deny or hide your homosexual attractions is still very toxic. And we aren’t immune to violence from homophobic people just because we are bi. Homophobes don’t care if we have a straight partner or if we aren’t exclusively gay.
    And it doesn’t erase past gay relationships or bashings, or slurs you may have been called in past gay or queer relationships.
    access to community and queer spaces still matter. Bisexuals double the numbers of gays and lesbians. Bisexuals are the backbone of the community. We were at every rally, every March, a bisexual woman,Brenda Howard created the first pride, and we were the large numbers that voted in gay marrige and queer rights. We didn’t always have a stand alone bi identity, but we developed gay and queer culture along with them. Why then would we stop being active in our community if partnered in a straight relationship then? Homosexuality is part of our sexuality too, even if it’s not exclusive. Homosexual rights are our rights too.

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