Since it’s National Coming Out Day, I thought you’d might like to hear the one coming out story I have that’s worth telling. Because really, as a bisexual, I feel like I’m repeatedly coming out and reminding and correcting.
When I did first vocalize my sexuality to my parents at 17, there was no drama. They were…not exactly accepting, but more like apathetic? We didn’t really talk about it much (and I kind of think that they didn’t really take me seriously/pay much attention). At the time my dad was the more conservative of the two of them. Not really a bigot -he didn’t outwardly hate non-straight people- but he was completely against same sex marriage for quite a while. It took many conversations and me pointing out that he didn’t care who I loved, but I could only marry a guy and how the hell was that fair before it finally sunk in and he changed his mind. My mother meanwhile had been raised with a gay aunt, so not being straight wasn’t exactly the biggest deal to her. But that didn’t mean she completely grasped the concept of bisexuality at first, and I think both of my parents felt that it was a phase, a common phenomenon among unicorns.
Once upon a time in the long long ago of my youth, back when it could be argued that I was a person worth dating, I dated a woman for a little while. We split up amicably and about a year later I started dating a guy.
Naturally, I informed my mother in the change in my relationship status.
When I told her, she got this odd, perplexed look on her face, and she said, “I thought you dated girls.”
I said, “I do. I’m bisexual. I date women and I date men.”
Her look went from perplexed to annoyed and she huffed a sigh.
“Well, I told your grandmother you were a lesbian. Now I’ll have to tell her you’re not.”
And that’s the only coming out story I have worth telling and even it is more of a correcting my sexuality story because my mother went by who I was dating as the determiner of my sexuality instead of, you know, what I’d told her. How bisexual! It was funny then and it’s funny now.
I realize that I’m fortunate that it is funny. I recognize the privilege that comes with being able to come out in a somewhat safe environment, to know that my sexuality wasn’t going to have a big impact on how my immediate family viewed and treated me. I’m very mindful, particularly today, of how not everyone has that luxury.
So, this is why it’s very important to remember the rules:
-We do not out people. Ever. For any reason. Coming out is a personal decision. Not everyone is safe to do so and not everyone wants to do so. We honor and respect those choices.
-Everyone has a different coming out. Some experiences are traumatic, some are supportive, and some are like mine…somewhere in between. But they are all valid. Respect that. One kind of coming out experience does not make you any more queer than another.
That being said…
-Straight people don’t get to come out. Perhaps if your sexuality weren’t enforced as the norm, you’d get to come out, too. Or no one would need to come out because everyone’s sexuality would be seen as normal. Coming out is rooted in oppression, in making a bold statement against that bullshit, structurally enforced norm. So, straight people, you don’t get to come out. Not when you’re considered the default.
October is also LGBTQ+ history month. Now would be a great time to look into the events that they don’t teach you about in school, mostly because no curriculum makes it past World War II. There’s more to the Gay Rights Movement than just Stonewall.
A little extra credit never hurt anybody.