By Dayan Reynolds
I AM BISEXUAL. That feels good. Maybe it doesn’t seem normal to you if you are reading this, because you probably never had the urge to wake up one morning, and just scream those three words on the top of your lungs. To shout it from the rooftops. Maybe it seems odd to you because you never had to go and whisper it to your parents during what would be the hardest “talk” of your life up to this point. Maybe it doesn’t feel right because you have never had a burning need to feel valid. Well, this article is a message, from a bisexual person to every straight person who may as of yet not quite understand why we get the urge to tell strangers passing by on the street, or share inspirational memes on Facebook, or turn all our profile pictures into rainbows during Pride. This is a message about what it’s like coming out and being bisexual.
Every story has a cliché beginning, and mine is about as easy to guess as any when living in this area. I grew up in a conservative home. The only thing more important than the Constitution was God himself. And it did have a profound impact on me. I am still to this day a Christian, and while I may be a liberal, my views are not as near as far-left as my democrat friends. But growing up in a closet is hard. Not hard like when you have to call someone because you lock the keys in your car or hard like when you drop the remote behind the couch and can’t quite reach it — but real hardship. Being in the closet is being afraid every step you take. Imagine that feeling you got when you had your first wreck or got that F on a report card or got fired from your job and had to tell your parents. Remember that thick, dense panic you had, as you envisioned their faces in your mind, full of anger and, even worse, disappointment. How mom would say it’s okay but dad would get into a quiet rage. Now imagine feeling like that about your entire life. I first questioned my sexuality when I was nine years old. I remember not thinking anything of it, like nothing was wrong. I was nine, why couldn’t the world just be whatever I wanted it to be? I was certain when I was 12, and that’s when I started hiding. It was no longer some weird possibility, but a fact, and I just knew I would be hated for it.
You can’t hide forever though. At some point, it gets to be enough. I was 16, and the date was June 25, 2015. Most people in the LGBT community will be able to recognize this as the date that we finally got equality in marriage, but for me, it is also the day I first came out to anyone. And I was feeling sick. Not from a stomach bug or sore throat but from my secret. I was always emotional and suspicious everyone already knew. I had gone through countless conversations in my head, imagining what my friends would think. How mad they might be, but also that small glimmer of hope that they would still love me. It’s that feeling, that hope, that pushed me over the edge. I still remember how it had happened. I had been watching Netflix’s Sense8, and then flipped over to CNN to see them talk about the big decision. I remember getting so excited when I heard it, and so my first response was to talk to my bisexual friend. I remember asking if she was excited, and her saying she was, but her confusion why I was. And, more than anything else, I remember that rush of emotion I got when, in response, I took several minutes to slowly hit that send button, explaining that I was in fact bisexual. The response was and immediate “yes” in all caps, followed by over a dozen exclamation points. I had never felt so good.
From there it slowly got easier when talking to my friends about it. Nothing felt better than that immediate relief I got when I knew it was okay to just be me. I remember going through the hallways and pulling friends aside to tell them, to make sure they knew. Looking back, it was probably pretty awkward for them, but for me it meant everything. I had finally gotten to be myself. My parents were a whole other story, but they aren’t the main reason I am writing this now. Because it hasn’t been all easy. Once I did come out, I got both sides of the issue – I had my friends who were loving and accepting and then I got those who spread hate. “Faggot” became a popular term. “Queer” became another. They even went with “Gayan,” which is not that big of a deal on its own, but it was more about the meaning they threw behind it. But the hate wasn’t just from the straight crowd. It was also from the gay community.
See, saying you’re bisexual is like trying to say you don’t have a favorite color in kindergarten. You like both red and blue. And all the kids who love blue join in with all the kids who love red, and they all start yelling that you can’t not choose, that you have to pick one. Coming out as bisexual comes with a whole extra list of labels and phrases. “You’re just confused.” “So really you’re just half gay.” “So when will you actually come out?” “It’s just an experimenting phase.” There were also some unique situations. My first boyfriend became extremely jealous. It nearly ended the relationship just because suddenly I “could like every person I came across.” I’ve been on several dates, that all ended in that same rhetoric: “look, you’re nice and all, but I just can’t date someone who’s twice as likely to cheat. I can’t handle that stress.” My Christian dad told me, “I would rather you be gay. At least if you were gay, you wouldn’t be able to be attracted to girls. But now you’re saying you like girls, but willingly choosing to also like guys, which is willingly choosing to sin.”
I am a person of analogies, so here’s my analogy of how bisexuality works. Everyone has a dating pool. For straight people, that pool is full of people of the opposite gender. For gay people, it’s full of people of the same gender. Bisexual people do not have two separate pools. They have a single pool, with multiple genders in it. Some pools have more guys than girls. Some have more girls than guys. But no pool is any larger than any other; just because bisexual people like more genders than just one, does not mean that they have a larger dating pool. The dating pool just has a different demographic. At the same time, at some point the majority of people pick a single person to spend their whole life with. But picking one person out of the pool doesn’t erase the pool. Bisexual people and straight people and gay people alike can still have people that they could be sexually attracted to, regardless of gender. They have simply chosen to prioritize one person over the rest.
Sexuality always has been and always will be a complex subject for everyone. And for right now, being anything other than straight is going to make life harder, regardless of how hard we push legislation. But that doesn’t mean everything is impossible, and so I close with this remark: regardless of whether you are straight or LGBT, remember that we are all human. This isn’t an issue of us and them. Remember that bisexual people are people who do exist, and we aren’t simply confused about our identities. Remember that not everyone is straight, and that straight is not some default orientation for society. Until that happens, however, I will continue to shout my sexuality from the rooftops.