(Look at that funny reference to my last post! I’m hilarious.)
So, I have a somewhat strained relationship with Pride Month, the same as with National Coming Out Day. The same as with the LGBTQIA community as a whole, because I still at age twenty-five feel like an outsider.
I’m bisexual. It took me a long time to realize this, not because there weren’t signs from a young age, but because I grew up in a stifling evangelical community where being gay wasn’t allowed. I did not know any out people until I reached high school, and by then the lessons I had learned from my religious upbringing (namely that to be gay was to be an evil person destined to an afterlife suffering in the flames of hell) had become so ingrained that I had difficulty admitting it even to myself.
I never had a problem with anyone else being gay, but I had massive trouble in extending the same understanding and compassion to myself.
So, when I finally felt internally free enough to realize that I liked women (and non-binary folks), I was twenty and in a serious (at the time) straight relationship.
I was faced with the conundrum of coming out while dating (as I then thought) a man.
Now, instead of fearing the label of “sinner” I worried about being labeled as a “faker”. These fears were confirmed by several unhelpful sources, including one person who called me “a liberal arts bisexual”. Whatever that means.
Fast forward to me at twenty-two, recently graduated from college. I had come out to a few very close friends (and the entire RA community). I didn’t know more than a handful of bisexuals and had very few bisexual role models. I felt alone, adrift, and still uncertain.
I was too shy to attend more than a handful of the events hosted at my college. Again afraid that people would consider me a wannabe because I had never dated a woman. It was a trap I couldn’t see a way out of: I couldn’t come out as bisexual unless I had dated a woman, I couldn’t date a woman unless I had come out.
Every year when Pride rolled around, or when another Coming Out Day passed unmarked, I felt more and more guilty, worrying that I’d missed my last chance. That I might as well stay closeted forever. It was too late for me.
Then I moved to the Bay Area. Which sounds cliche, and probably isn’t a possibility for most people, but which worked for me. I had a new chance to introduce myself to people, and in a community that was historically aligned with homosexuality, queerness, and expression. In many ways, I felt it was almost expected. Especially with the haircut I’ve been rocking since freshman year of college.
So, I started finding ways to express my gayness. Mentioning women I found attractive. Telling people about my relationship with a trans-woman (though, as mentioned previously, at the time I thought she was a cis-man). Trying, occasionally, to flirt with women.
To my surprise, it started to work. I even entered into my first (kind of) relationship with a woman, and for a while it was really wonderful. But the whole time I found myself still uncertain.
I kept asking myself questions. Am I really gay enough to be accepted? Will people still love me if I’m gay? How do I let people know that I’m interested in ladies, men, and everyone in between? Will they just assume I’m straight or gay?
It was fraught territory. I’d never had to ask myself “Am I straight enough?” or “Will people still love me if I’m straight?” I felt guilty for even asking such things.
Still in this time, often blindly, I took more steps. I got a nose-piercing. Which isn’t really anything, but which gave me greater confidence in embracing myself and my bisexuality. I engaged in conversations with my friends who were gay, especially my friends who date women. I kept living my life, in its complexity and nuance. I kept taking steps.
Is there any sort of conclusion to this? Probably not. There’s not really a conclusion to sexuality or to love. But I do write this with the hope that someone might take some comfort from it.
In a world where we’re often told to be proud, and indeed I’m so happy that we can be, it can be difficult to embrace the complex gray areas that make pride a struggle for some people.
I write this to let you know that, you’re not alone. There’s no age by which you have to “come out”. There’s no test you have to pass in order to prove your sexuality or asexuality whatever it may be. You don’t have to read the right books or watch the right shows. There’s no “language” you have to speak in order to be yourself. You yourself are whatever you are, and no one else gets to define that for you.
And, whatever else you are, you are not alone. We’re all out here with you, doing our best, loving who we love, asking ourselves questions and sometimes, sometimes, finding answers.
Long story short, I am bisexual. I love you. Happy Pride Month.