It’s not just a sexual attraction. It’s an identity.
There was never a lightbulb moment in which I realized, “Hey! I’m bisexual!” I actually spent several years with a growing sense that something about me wasn’t quite the norm.
It wasn’t until I started reading fan fiction in earnest that the knowledge sort of snuck up on me … I wasn’t heterosexual. Limiting my sexual interest to a single gender felt completely unnatural to me, so why should I keep faking it?
I decided to own the label when I went off to grad school—I’d simply introduce myself to new people as bi in the first place.
OK—no, I didn’t lead off with, “Hi, my name is Rebecca and I’m bisexual. How are you?” That would have labeled me as weird for a completely different reason! But I did make sure the topic arose early on in my interactions with new friends to present it as a simple fact about me—no different from my favorite color.
Little did they realize—I hope—how difficult it was for me to be so casual, how monumental our everyday conversation was to me. Eventually, after I sweated through the first few conversations, it stopped freaking me out so much.
New acquaintances were one thing—family was a much bigger issue to tackle. I promised myself if I ever started seriously dating a girl, I wouldn’t hide it. But same-sex relationships with slippery lines between friendship and romance proved to be a greater challenge than I anticipated. I put it off and put it off and put it off … and then I got married.
Hurrah! Problem solved. I ended up with a man, so the subject would never have to come up.
Except … the subject never did come up and it felt wrong. It felt wrong to lie by omission—to enter into political arguments with family members who had no idea the stakes were so personal to me. It felt wrong to be two different me’s—to monitor everything I said when visiting family. And it felt very wrong to raise my daughter to believe I’m something I’m not. I knew I would eventually want to tell her and making it a secret to be revealed implied that it was something to be ashamed of.
I’m not ashamed. I’m just one me. I’m bisexual—and I’m talking about it.
As you read this article, my family members are reading with you. Today is the day I stop hiding. I know there will be confusion and so many questions. I created this list of anticipated questions because I wanted to address these issues from the beginning. Let’s start talking together.
Here are some questions and answers for those who might not yet understand.
1. But … you’re married … to a man.
Yes! I am married to a wonderful man. Since I am attracted to men and women, I am free to marry either—thanks, Supreme Court! It happens to be a man in my case.
2. Does being married to a man mean you’re not bisexual anymore?
Being bisexual is a part of my identity and it didn’t disappear when I got married. I continue to find women attractive, because that’s how my body and brain work.
3. So, do you secretly have crushes on your female friends?
Just as straight women are able to have friendships with men that don’t involve sex, queer women are able to have friendships with women that don’t involve sex. I’m not attracted to every person I see—being bisexual simply means that I don’t automatically rule anyone out due to their gender.
4. Wait, I thought we weren’t supposed to say “queer.”
At one time, “queer” was used as a slur, but the LGBTQ community has largely embraced and reclaimed the term. Many of us find it to be the best way to describe a sexual identity “out of the norm.”
The best way to know how to refer to someone is to ask them how they self-identify. I do identify as queer, so it’s just fine to use that word with me.
5. Does your husband know?
My husband has known I’m bisexual since the day we met and it has never been an issue for us. He has also been part of my decision to come out now. I couldn’t ask for better emotional support.
6. Does being bisexual mean you cheat on your husband?
My husband and I made a commitment to each other and I would never break that commitment.
Bisexual people aren’t “naturally promiscuous” any more than straight people, but we get slapped with the assumption that no matter which gender we are with, we’re probably cheating on that person with someone from the other gender. That’s not how this works. My sexual identity has nothing to do with keeping the vows of my marriage.