I recently read this wonderful advice column on Out.com and it really resonated with me. So I thought I’d add a few thoughts of my own on coming out as bisexual even though I am in a happy, monogamous, heterosexual relationship.
I came out as bisexual about two years ago. At the time I was so naive. I thought, “Oh, I finally understand why I always have a crush on women, even though I am happily married to a man, cool.” I thought that was it. I’m bisexual. Nothing to it, nothing will really change. After all, I am married, and it’s not like I am suddenly going to cheat on my husband. Nothing had really changed except that I now had a label that fit me.
Strangely enough, or maybe not so strangely depending on your experience, that was not it. I had thought that finding a label that fit me would make my life easier. And in a way, it definitely has. I feel more “me” now that I can describe myself as bisexual. I now understand my own history of kissing girls (before I was married, and sadly it was only kissing) and my attraction to women. But at the same time, having this label has brought up a lot more complicated feelings.
I feel like a fraud. I am bisexual, but I have never slept with a woman. And I likely never will, unless something happens to my husband (God forbid). I pass as straight, because I am happily married and have two children (not that having children makes me more straight, but I fit the picture of happily married straight mum). The very few people I have come out to in real life have dismissed my “claim” by saying that every woman is a bit curious as to what it’s like to sleep with another woman, right? I feel like I have to defend my bisexuality, which makes me more reluctant to come out to others in real life.
My family is super conservative, so I wouldn’t come out to them. But I have some friends who are sex positive, and yet I am reluctant to tell them I am bi. I mean, how can I prove that I’m bi? After all, I’ve never slept with a woman. And I know that this does not make me less bi. If I were single I could just as happily see myself fall in love with a woman as with a man. (To be honest, these days I would more likely end up with a woman.) But that doesn’t take away the fact that I am now in a heterosexual relationship and most people take that as “proof” that you’re straight. Bi-erasure is, sadly, all too real.
Two years ago I didn’t really think that identifying as bi would be a big deal. But it has changed how I view myself. It makes me sad that I didn’t realise until I was in my forties that I was bi. I wished I had known when I was in university so I could have maybe experimented more. I also feel different in myself, knowing that I am not straight. Having been raised to think that straight is the gold standard, I still experience the occasional wobble when I realise I am different. I’m not what society wants me to be, even though outwardly I tick all the boxes.
And maybe my frustration lies in the fact that I do tick all the boxes. I feel isolated, lonely. I live in a straight world as an (outwardly) straight woman. I don’t really have anyone I can talk to about these conflicted feelings in real life, because no one in my real world really knows I am bi. And even though I have made friends on Twitter who are in a similar situation, it’s not the same. None of my Twitter friends are that close that I could call them up and have a little cry, or a whinge or meet up for wine and a nice long chat about my feelings.
Writing about all this does help. I have been away from my blog a little bit while I was busy writing my novels, but all writing helps. I find that writing bisexual characters in my fiction gives me comfort. It feels as if I’m not alone. I can work out some of my feelings by giving them to my characters and have them deal with it (yes, I’m evil that way :-)). I do still struggle with my conservative upbringing (I even feel guilty for writing FF or FFM fiction), but I know that’s not going to change overnight.
And I know I’m not the only one out there struggling. I’m sure there are lots of hetero-presenting couples out there of which one – or both – partners identify as bisexual. I wouldn’t know, would I? Just as strangers wouldn’t know by looking at me that I am bi. It’s not like we go around with little identifiers on our lapels. (While that would be an awesome idea, I would be a bit scared/hesitant to wear a bisexual flag pin myself. Maybe I am my own worst enemy after all.)
Anyhow, I feel like I am just rambling on. I’m bisexual. When I’m around queer people I feel like I’m a fraud, because I am not queer enough. When I’m around straight people I feel like I don’t belong. Christian guilt drives me to repress my bisexuality, but my own sense of self wants to celebrate it. I’ve been hiding too long, but I can’t really come out fully either. I’m stuck in limbo. It will get better, of that I’m sure. But it won’t be for a while.