So, as most of you know, I make no great secret on the internets that I am bisexual. Yep, I said it and I’ll say it again. I’m into both XX and XY people. I’m not ashamed of my sexuality and I’ve made mention of it here, briefly on my ‘official’ website, and it’s even listed on my Facebook profile. I make artwork about it. My friends all know. Most of my classmates in college knew. My boyfriend knows, and I’ve been upfront with previous boyfriends about it since I realized what those… interesting… thoughts I sometimes had about the girls around me meant, nearly 12 years ago. I’m not secretive, and yet I’m not out to my family members. I’m sure some of them have read my posts and chosen not to say anything- (hi guys, it’s ok to bring it up, honest :D) – but I personally have not sat down with my parents, grandparents, cousins, what-have-you and actually said “Guys, I’m bi. I like both people with boobs and possessors of penii [is that the plural of penis?]” Knowing this, you might be wondering, well, why?
I’ve been giving thought to this myself recently, partly because I chatted with my mom about it on the phone earlier today. And that means it’s time fo-o-o-r…. some long, boring introspection and musing from me about sexuality! 😀 (You have my permission to flee into the night if this isn’t your area of interest. It’s gonna be a long one.)
… no? Ok, you’re stuck with me then 😀
The main reason I haven’t come out to my family (or, for that matter, most my previous coworkers) is that I’ve never had a girlfriend. I went on one or two low-key ‘dates’ if you can call them that with one girl for about a week, but broke it off because I realized we had nothing in common, she had a bit of a racist streak, and she smoked heavily (those last two are HUUUUUGE turnoffs for me). In fact, before meeting my current boyfriend, I was actually looking for a girlfriend. I wanted to experience cuddling someone with curves at least once in my life who didn’t smell like an ash-tray, but I met Adam first and decided I rather liked him, so I called off my search. Seeing as I’ve never gotten even remotely serious with a girl, I have never really wanted to go through the drama of coming out just to end with “but I’m still going to date this guy. I just felt like sharing”.
Reason#2 would be the expected reaction of said family. I’ve already had the awkward “Sooooo, I’m Pagan. Just FYI…” chat with my parents. They didn’t really understand it, though my dad said little about it and just sort accepted it. My mom thought I shouldn’t use the word “pagan” because it was too loaded, and should perhaps call myself a “nature lover” as if they were synonymous. Sure, I’m also a nature lover… but that’s not the same as my religious beliefs. We’ve gone round and round about the differences and the value of reclaiming the word from people who use it disparagingly. At this point, she’s accepted it and while she’ll never fully understand it or my decision to be openly Pagan, she doesn’t give me any grief about it. The main problem in this conversation arose later, surrounding my extended family (a well-meaning but SUPER-conservative and religious bunch). I was forbidden from mentioning my non-Christian beliefs and ESPECIALLY from mentioning Paganism. (This ties into sexuality, I swear. Stay with me.) I’d ignore this ruling because, well, fuck that, I’m an adult. I’ll tell whoever I want, and if they have issues with my beliefs, that’s their problem. I don’t agree with a lot of their beliefs either, particularly on the treatment of women. I’d like to think that we can all grow as people by being tolerant of one another and have a (hopefully) respectful conversation about our different opinions and beliefs. (In terms of religion… that’s probably wishful thinking, but I can dream.)
BUT, I did end up agreeing to to stay mum on this subject for one reason, and one reason only – I know how my grandparents would take the news. I don’t want to upset them, so I choose simply not to bring it up. If asked directly, I wouldn’t lie, but I’m not going to volunteer information that I know would shock and upset them -just for the sake of sharing it. They’re all in their 80s and some have health issues. Not worth the potential blood-pressure spike it would give them.
This relates to coming out as bisexual because I expect a similar issue to arise in terms of my sexuality. Again, most of the family can just deal if they don’t like the fact that I’m 1/2 gay. BUT… there’s the grandparent problem again. If I told my grandparents, “Hey guys. I’m dating a man, and all, and I know you want great-grand-kids someday… but… I like girls too. Like in the kissy-kissy make-out way… Y’know… just so you know….” There would be a long awkward silence while they processed this and then they’d tell me I don’t ‘really’ like girls, and we’d argue. Then they’d spend the rest of time trying to “save” me or “cure” me, or just generally giving me crap about my orientation. Again, unless there’s a lady in the picture who they’d be introduced to, it just isn’t worth the shock to their systems, nor the stress of putting up with their well-meant attempts to “fix” me. Now, if I ever had a lady-friend I was serious about, this would go down regardless, because I’m not going to hide her from them or ask her not to be honest about our relationship, but I just don’t want to stir up this hornet’s-nest shit-storm without a good reason.
Now I can just imagine the comments half of you are writing on this post right now, so let me stop you before you pour too much time into your wishes that I die in a lake of fire after being run over by a bus. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t come out to their families, or that it wouldn’t be worth it to others in my situation to do just that. And while I’d definitely take a lot of crap about my sexuality if I came out to my family, I’m in no danger of being disowned, physically harmed, or tossed out into the street upon coming out, and I know that’s an unfortunate reality for a lot of LGBTQ folks in the world, especially the young’uns. I’m very much aware of how lucky that makes me.
I’d definitely advocate coming out in most cases, especially if it’s important to you. I’m certainly not advocating hiding yourself or your sexuality. Be yourself and be proud of it. Hell, I’m out to pretty much the entire universe if anyone wants to look closely enough. I just don’t feel it’s necessary to sit these people down and inform them directly unless they need to know. Otherwise, it’s none of their business and I’m opening myself to a world of pain and suffering that I just don’t need. And since I would never try to push someone to come out before they feel ready, I feel reasonably entitled to take my own sweet time deciding when I’m ready to play share-and-tell. Also, given they have already met and approved of the boyfriend, it’s a non-issue at the moment.
While I haven’t started wearing rainbows to family barbeques or commenting on how hot that girl on TV looks in front of my uncle, that doesn’t mean I don’t speak up and vehemently defend LGBTQers anytime the subject comes up. I am no less fierce in defending the community when no-one knows about my sexuality than I would be when it is common knowledge. (This is another one of those things I’d advocate everyone do, as long as they are not going to be putting themselves in danger by doing so.)
The last, and I guess most lingering reason is unease. I’m not what I’d call ‘close’ to a lot of my extended family. We have REALLY different ideas about a lot of things, and I find some of their ideas outright infuriating. (“Submissive” and “obedient” wives, for one thing. *dry heave*) But we don’t have a hostile or confrontational dynamic. I’m just “one of the cousins” or “That distant niece” to most of them, and I know that once those words leave my mouth they’re going to spread like wildfire and that sort of comfortably-ignoring-one-another dynamic will be no more. I’d be facing a quiet, well-meaning, and constant campaign to “save my soul” every time we interacted from that point on and likely be asked not to attend some family events, especially if I were ever to have a lady-friend with me. So yeah, I guess there’s a small component of fear mixed in for good measure.
As I mentioned earlier, all of this was touched-off by a conversation with my mom earlier today about sexuality (perhaps trying to nudge me into coming out to her directly? She does have the link to my blog…). While I may not be planning to announce my lady and gentleman lovin’ ways to her just yet, it’s comforting to know she’s at least thinking about and curious about these things, and trying to understand the gay community at the art venues and studios where she works. She might not ever quite “get” how bisexuality works, or that we’re not what I refer to as “party-bi” (aka: magically becoming ‘bi’ for a few hours at a time, so you can make-out with other girls for your boyfriend or just nearby guys to drool over. Aka: stop making the rest of us look bad by being a skanky-poser. Some of us would actually enjoy making out with another woman and don’t need an audience for it. But I digress :D) I like to think that when I actually say it out loud, things will go smoothly.
One can hope 🙂