If you know me at all, then you know that I am very open about the fact that I identify as bisexual. I often look like a walking pride flag, and I’ve written at length on topics like bi erasure, the intersection between my sexuality and my mental health diagnoses, and coming out to my kids. I’m fully willing to tell you why I identify as bi, and I am not ashamed of the fact that I find women attractive.
It wasn’t always this way, though. In fact, I hid this aspect of my identity from a lot of people for over a decade. Even my “coming out story” was a happy accident that occurred because I mentioned it in a blog post just to make a point.
Anyway, this blog isn’t about me… it’s about Emily. And by the time Emily and I met in 2018, I had embraced my identity as a bisexual woman.
When Simple Statements Spark Something More
I often felt like I looked like a walking bisexual stereotype when I showed up for DBT group in the fall and winter months. I love a good flannel paired with a TWLOHA shirt, I wear beanies like they’re going out of style, and the two pairs of shoes I wear 99% of the time are my Vans and my Chucks. Of course, if that wasn’t all a dead giveaway, I have plenty of bi pride stuff attached to my Kavu bag.
Yet, for whatever reason, it seemed no one in our group realized I was “in the community” until the day I proclaimed it to help explain a concept that Emily wasn’t getting.
In the Emotion Regulation module, you cover a section that explains how to decide if the emotions you feel in a certain situation “fit the facts.” This is hard, because sometimes you can experience emotions that are justified but not necessarily rational, and Emily got really hung up on this.
So, I chimed in:
“Okay, so I have an example. I identify as bisexual. I have for a long time. However, I also grew up in a huge, devout Catholic family. So it took me a long time to come out, and even now I still experience a lot of shame when I share this information about myself or find a girl attractive. These feelings are justified because of my upbringing, but they don’t necessarily fit the facts.“
Emily said that all made sense, and the group quickly moved on to something else. But after group that day, Emily lingered for a bit then approached me.
“Hey, so can I ask you something?”
“Of course! What’s up?”
“So earlier when you said that you’re bisexual… How did you figure that out?”
I chuckled and asked her why she wanted to know, then proceeded to tell her all about my obsession with the television show Alias, the butterflies I got with certain people (both male and female) in high school, and everything else. I even told her about my “accidental” coming out that ultimately led me to embrace my truth. She listened intently, and I talked for far longer than I should have.
When I finally finished, she told me that she’d been questioning her sexuality for a bit, but between her upbringing and general fear of “rocking the boat,” she tucked those feelings away. I told her that all made sense, and then I offered her a final thought that coming out is a process, but staying in the closet is incredibly painful. And I left it there.
I got into my car and immediately texted one of my friends because the whole conversation started those butterflies I hadn’t felt towards anyone in quite some time. Little did I know she essentially did the same thing — she messaged her cousin (and held onto the screenshots for 2 years until we started dating).
Coming Out Takes Time
For a long time after that, Emily and I didn’t discuss anything related to sexuality or identity. However, she eventually restarted the conversation in her own way — by sending me bisexual memes and gifs from time to time.
Over time, I learned a lot about this aspect of Emily’s identity. For example, she shared that she thought her first “hint” that she wasn’t straight should have been when her mom explained homosexuality to her, and she thought kissing a girl sounded better than kissing a boy. She also shared a story about a girl she had a crush on when she volunteered at the animal shelter. And, of course, there was no denying that her obsession with Demi Lovato went far beyond the music.
I also learned how difficult it was for her to share this part of herself with anyone because of her past and her dreams for the future. Emily worried a lot about whether people would be accepting if she actually “came out.” She also feared that people within the LGBTQ+ community would judge her because she “looked straight.” These concerns, and others, weighed heavily on Emily’s heart. Yet, at the same time, so did hiding this part of herself.
The entire time, I tried my best to provide a safe space for her to share anything that was on her heart and her mind. Sometimes she’d ask questions in a way that made me feel like she was seeking validation that her experience was “normal.” Other times she’d make comments that completely perplexed me, but in a good way. Watching her work through this aspect of herself was yet another transformation of hers I loved being a part of.
Emily did ultimately make the decision to come out, first to people she knew would be accepting, then to more people as she felt comfortable doing so. Of course, there were some people she hadn’t officially come out to even after I proposed. It was all a process, and I understood that.
I’d like to say that, because of me, Emily was able to embrace her sexuality and “come out.” But really, I had nothing to do with it. Emily knew her truth all along — she just needed to find her stride so she could own that piece of herself.
Emily, thank you for sharing these pieces of yourself with me. I feel honored that you trusted me enough to share who you are. I know you already know this, but every piece of your existence that you shared with me only made me love you more.
2 thoughts on “Because I Was Gay”
My bridge to realization was trans women. The idea of penises wasn’t scary or foreign to me. In fact, around that time I was almost in high school and I was flexible with my body enough to “experiment” before I got taller
Took me a while to accept attraction to cis men. The homophobic culture made me suppress it, I felt terrified for anyone to know that I liked transwomen let alone men.
A very masculine guy isn’t a turn on. Typically my type are clean shaven, younger, and slightly feminine guys
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