Friday, August 29, 2014

Why Say I'm Bi?

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.


The BiCast said...

Beautifully put. And very accurate.You have put words to what so many feel. Thank you.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

All your reasons are absolutely right! Everyone has the right to be openly themselves. And jeez, who has a party nowadays and forbids same-sex couples from attending? *shakes head sadly*

Sarita Rucker said...

BiCast -- Thanks. :)

Debra -- It was someone who used religion has his excuse for discriminating...and then his friends yelled at those of us refusing to attend his party for supposedly discriminating against him, even comparing what we did to a hate crime. I might have been feeling hurt if I weren't too fascinated by the excuses people thought were good arguments to support him.

Harrie Farrow said...

Thanks for being you and doing all you do for the bi community.

Sarita Rucker said...

You're welcome. I hadn't actually been expecting to get thanked for this post. :)

I guess I should clarify on the subject of everyone close to me knowing I'm bi...apparently my dad doesn't, though I remember coming out to him two years ago. When I discovered this today I tried saying again that I'm bi, but apparently he doesn't get it. So much for being out of the closet...

Harrie Farrow said...

One of the biggest problems for bisexuals, even when we come out we have to keep saying it. Just the other day someone gave me a bad time for always repeating that I'm biseuxal. It gets to be a habit because so often so many don't really hear it the first bunch of times we say it.

Sarita Rucker said...

Thinking about it, I'm not even sure if he realizes that there are more options than just straight/gay. That could explain why he doesn't get it. I figure I'll bring it up to him again, and hope it goes well.