On the subject of bisexuality there's one question that keeps popping up: why even tell anyone that you're bi? I'd been noticing this question more often recently, always with people telling us to stay in the closet for various reasons. I thought it worth writing about after a certain advice columnist compared bisexuality to plushophilia when saying why a bi woman should keep her sexual orientation a secret.
So, why come out as bi? Here are the reasons that come to mind.
Because I want you to know who I really am. I can't explain this any better than Robyn Ochs in her book Getting Bi,
so I'll quote her: "The cost of silence can be great. Failure to
communicate, to share important information about ourselves, creates a
barrier between us and our loved ones. André Gide said, 'It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are
not.' We want others to know us not as their illusion of what we are,
but as we truly are. Without this, we cannot truly be close." This seems like a good enough reason to come out all by itself.
Avoiding awkwardness or weirdness. It's weird to be in a conversation/argument where I'm being treated as a straight ally. This came up recently when I declined to attend a party where same sex couples weren't allowed, and those of us who said we wouldn't attend because of this rule were told off for "humiliating" the host because of our "political stance." This turned into a raging argument that I quietly observed for a while, and oddly enough things became somewhat polite once I pointed out that I'm bi and take homophobia/biphobia pretty personally.
Lesson learned that day: conversations can go differently when a queer is known to be present. I'm not sure if this is another reason to be out of the closet, but it's worth noting.
Role models. I know I must have known bi adults as I was growing up, but I wish I'd known adults who were out of the closet as bi. This might not have helped me come to terms with my own sexual orientation in my teens, but it might have helped. I like to think that more of us being out of the closet might help future generations.
Showing people we exist. For some odd reason some people can't comprehend that we really can be attracted to more than one gender. Just read the comments on a few bi articles and you'll see what I mean. I'd like to think that these people might rethink their attitudes of they realize that they know someone who's bi, though I know I may be overly optimistic.
I want to acknowledge my community. I haven't been particularly active in the bi community, but I'm part of it, and bisexual issues are something I try to pay attention to. When I sang in choirs and was part of Girl Scout troops that meant a lot to me anyone who knew me knew about them. Why shouldn't people also know that I'm part of the bi community?
I don't want it to be a secret. Seriously, why does the fact that someone is attracted to more than one gender need to be treated like a dirty little secret? Can you imagine telling someone who's straight to keep it a secret? I don't think so.
Hopes for the future. I'm probably a bit hopeful, but I'd like someday for people to not assume another's sexual orientation. (I'll admit, I need to work on this myself. I discovered recently that a new friend is bi rather than straight as I'd assumed.) While it doesn't hurt me when people who see me with my boyfriend assume I'm straight, and I look forward to the day that it also doesn't hurt when someone is assumed to be gay when seen with their same sex partner, I hope that someday people will be aware that bisexuality is also a possibility. The first step to this, I think, is for more of us to be out.
After writing the above I realize that it may look like I'm urging people to come out of the closet. I'm not. Whether to come out is a very personal decision, as I've discussed before. But there are a number of good reasons to come out as bi, and these need to be discussed until people finally stop telling us to stay in the closet.
I guess it's worth acknowledging that despite my wanting to be out, not everyone knows I'm bi. I'm not always sure how to come out, so acquaintances often only find out if they pay attention to me online or if it somehow becomes relevant to the conversation at hand. Everyone close to me knows, though.
If you're LGBT, another minority that requires coming out of a closet, or an ally, what other reasons do you see for coming out of the closet? I know I haven't covered everything.