No matter if you’re an LGBTQ+ person yourself, a relative or friend to one, or just an ally, “coming out” is a familiar topic for all of us. Most of us who identify any other way than straight have to come out several times in our lives to different people – families, friends, colleagues, partners etc., but it is quite safe to assume that at a certain point in your life, it will come to an end. There is a certain group of people who would disagree as they end up coming out over and over, and over again. I’m one of these people, and I’m bisexual.
Coming out feels a bit like the movie “Groundhog Day,” the one where Bill Murray’s character relives the same day over and over again. Only now I’m reliving different types of coming outs which aren’t like the initial coming out. Mostly I come out “again” because I have to clarify for someone, to sort out a misconception about who I am. I also have to sort out several false assumptions about bisexuality itself. It becomes terribly tiring.
So, here are the different types of coming out I’ve done:
1. My initial coming out as bisexual at the age of 20 (at first to my peer group)
This one never really happened the way it’s supposed to happen. It was sort of taken away from me. I met my first girlfriend in a club, and it hit me like a lightning bolt. We were making out in the club, and apparently my peer group saw it. When I finally let the cat out of the bag, I only got: “Oh darling, we already know. We were there.” That was sort of a let down because initially I was so happy about having heard my sexual calling, and then it felt like I was the last to know, but they were happy for me and fine with it. I had a better “opportunity” to come out to some more of my friends, and no one outright rejected me, then. Sadly, the rejection and disrespect came later in small doses and unfortunately killed some friendships as well.
2. My coming out to my family in the same year
I know that probably most people come out to their families first, but since the bond to mine isn’t that close, I didn’t feel the need to disclose my sexual orientation to them upfront. I ended up telling them on Christmas Eve. While my dad was cleaning up the kitchen, I sat in the living room with my mother and other family members. She looked at me and asked upfront if I’m a lesbian. Needless to say I was baffled at first. I had to ask her why, and she told me that I had been single for a longer period and that all my former boyfriends had slightly feminine facial features. But since she had put the elephant in the middle of the room, I thought I could jump on it and take a ride. I told her that I’m not a lesbian but that I identify as bisexual. She looked at me and said something along the line that being bisexual wouldn’t be significant. I should decide “one team to play for.” I interjected that her stance on bisexuality is bullshit because I made a decision and that she wouldn’t force people to decide between liking fruits or vegetables for the rest of their lives. She suddenly changed the subject, and we never really spoke about it again, with the exception that, when we met on outings, she would ask if I was dating a certain woman. That was easy to stop when I told her that I’m not interested in having sex and/or a romantic relationship with every woman I meet just because I’m bisexual and that if she wanted to treat it fairly, she’d have to ask me the same thing when it comes to my meeting different men.
3. Coming out when being in a same-sex relationship
Since I don’t see any benefit in closeting my sexual identity as a bisexual woman depending on with whom I’m in a relationship, I often have to disclose my bisexuality when I meet friends of my samesex partner. This is especially problematic when my partner identifies as a lesbian. Sadly I often experienced a certain backlash when “coming out” as bisexual in a “lesbian environment.” Behind my back or even straight to my face, I’ve heard I’m only confused, going through a phase, or simply not one of them. Still, this has never stopped me from being open about being bisexual.
4. Coming out when being in an different-sex relationship
Currently, I’m in a different-sex relationship with a man who is also bisexual. We’re both open about our bisexuality even though he had closeted and falsely labeled himself as gay for many years to find more acceptance in the LGBTQ+ world. It was then necessary for him to come out again as bisexual when we became a couple. That was a double-edged sword. However, the others accused us of just using our “straight privilege,” as our mostly binary-coded world sees the following: a man and a woman, aka a straight couple. We’re then seen as a straight couple no matter if we’re in straight or queer spaces.
Although it’s proven useful to me, it also saddens me that I have to use a “coming out” to defend myself. But what is the alternative? To silently accept the wrong perception? If I were forced to choose between those options, I’d always opt for “The Groundhog Day of Coming Outs” because visibility is what we need to break binary stereotypes, and closeting oneself has never been a privilege, isn’t a privilege, and will never be one!
NekoFirefoxy, 37 years old, currently lives with her partner in Zurich, Switzerland, where she works as a back-office administrator. She identifies as bisexual and has never made a secret of it.