I was invisible. My boyfriend “accepted” that I was bi and trans, but didn’t want to know about it. I wasn’t out about either to his family. We looked like a typical male/female couple to his friends, family, and community. I say “his,” because I moved away from mine. I was so happy to have been accepted at all, at first.
But there was so much of myself I couldn’t express. I was invisible. I had a box of books about sexuality and gender that I hid in the shed to make sure nobody would see them. I was happy for the kind-of acceptance I had, but I had hidden a piece of myself in the shed to win it.
I put up with threats and put-downs. “He just does that, it’s OK.” My boyfriend demanded to know why I was sad, but I was already hiding because of expectations. Explaining that led to confusion and anger. Being myself wasn’t OK, so I hid further.
Meeting up with the poly community, a shared interest my boyfriend and I eventually found, triggered a chain of events that turned things around. He wasn’t comfortable when I said, “Actually, that works for me as well.” Bigger threats led to my seeking counseling. Counseling led to learning to identify his behavior as verbal abuse. Counseling and support from an accepting community led to my decision that I’d had enough. After ten years in that relationship, I finally moved out and moved on.
I’m accepted now, for all of me. I don’t have to hide.
Sarah lives in Australia, where she is involved with the intersection of poly, bi* and trans* communities. She is discovering her own voice.