When I was 22, I met a girl in graduate school who was openly bisexual and it changed my life. Not only was she out, but she was completely unapologetic about it. Whatever shame and confusion that lingered in me, she was somehow immune to, despite the conservative small town we lived in at the time and our similar upbringings. She was unwilling to inhibit herself or to make anything off limits because of others’ disapproval. To put it simply, she had found a way to eliminate worry about the opinions of others and embrace herself fully and I wanted desperately to be like her.
So I came out. In her living room carving pumpkins and watching Frozen, I told our other friends from graduate school that I was also bisexual, and from that moment on stopped hiding it in our town. I started to really explore my attraction to women openly, and learned how to not only accept but take pride in my identity. On my 26th birthday, I returned home for a visit and came out to my family, and now live openly in all aspects of my life.
For a long time, I thought I would just pass as straight for my entire life. I didn’t necessarily want to, but I was so afraid of other peoples reactions that I let it limit me in my pursuit of my own happiness. It wasn’t until I encountered someone so similar to myself, but living the life I truly desired, that I could no longer pretend and I am so grateful to her for that. She showed me that I was not only normal, but that I was wonderful in the complexity of my perfectly valid identity.
Her openness changed me, but mainstream bi visibility is still lagging. Huge strides have been made with the inclusion of bisexual characters like Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy and Detective Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn 99. However, in order for bisexuality to be truly visible and normalized, we need more people who are bisexual to come out, regardless of the dynamics of their current relationship. We need to challenge the idea that bi people in opposite sex relationships are simply straight, or that bi people in same sex relationships are simply gay, and to celebrate bisexuality as its own clear and distinct identity. We need to erase the notion that bisexuality is simply confusion, and in order to do so we need proud and visible members of the community who embrace their identity in all of its complexity. While coming out is not always easy or feasible, living your truth is worth the risk and so needed for progress to continue. To the bisexuals still passing for straight, wont you come out with me?