I came out as bi to my friend, Trisha, in a Micheal’s craft store. She asked me the standard questions: how long had I known, who have I been attracted to, who else knew, that sort of thing. It was a casual conversation interrupted by the two of us asking Rachel what the transfer vinyl lining in the aisle was for.
Rachel, a friend of ours who already knew that I’m bi, explained it was the kind of thing you use to iron designs onto t-shirts. When I came out to Rachel about a year earlier, I was way more nervous. The two of us were taking her dog for a walk around the neighborhood. I kept trying to find a pause in the conversation.
“Rachel, there is something I want to tell you, and I am telling you this because I love you and I trust you.”
She responded like a rock star saying she was happy for me, she supported me, and that it didn’t change anything about our friendship.
If it wasn’t for Rachel, I probably wouldn’t have come out to Trisha. It’s not that I thought Trisha would react poorly or that I didn’t want her to know. It’s super awkward to try to find a natural segway. Let’s just say Rachel enthusiastically encourages me to come out to other people.
The list of people I've come out to, however, is short: my brother, a roommate, a couple of friends, a teacher in an essay, and some strangers at a conference once. Everytime I feel a conversation move towards a graceful transition, I get a pit in the bottom of my stomach. By the time I have it all mapped out in my head, the conversation has moved on. I don’t like drawing that much attention to myself, but I do have a rule. If anyone asks me rather or not I’m straight. I’ll tell them. It has only ever happened once.
I feel guilty and embarrassed. There are people all around standing up for love and defending it. People have been disowned by their famileis, sent to conversion therapy, or even attacked. There are countries around the world were gay marriage is illegal. There are people who waited a lifetime for it to be legalized in the US. There are kids who came out in high school.
How can I be such a coward?
I used to believe the devil was inside my head. In middle school and high school, I would find myself daydreaming about girls, and then immediately repressing it. Beside, I thought, I like boys, so I can’t be gay. It took me a while to figure it all out. Eventually, I came to a groundbreaking conclusion. Sure, lesbians don’t find it difficult to breathe while sitting next to a cute curly-haired boy wearing corduroy pants and feel caught off guard when he shifts and bumps into your shoulder. But, straight girls don’t find themselves flustered by the way the light catches another girl’s hair and how badly you wish you could kiss her.
Anyway, I stopped going to church. I had noticed that it was making me judgemental. I was using religion as a shortcut to my own personal moral philosophy. Cut and paste. It wasn’t until after that that I could accept who I was. None of that happened until after my dad died; now I can never tell him that I’m bi.
I would like to tell my mom, but after my dad died, she is clinging to religion tighter than ever. It's hard enough for her that I don’t go to church. She has struggled with depression her whole life, and now on top of that she is trying to process my father’s death. I know telling her the truth would send shockwaves through her world. It seems cruel.
A while back, I was talking to her over the phone. We got into a conversation about marriage and grandkids. She kept mentioning that one day I would find the right man. I concentrated on keeping my voice steady, but as soon as I hung up I started crying. I might find the right man, but what if I find the right woman. I feel safe with her. I love her. She loves me. We want a life together. How will I break my mom’s heart? I kind of wish I weren’t attracted to men at all. Then, I could dash my mom’s hope to pieces all at once. Even if I told her the truth, she’d always be holding out hope for the right man.
I wish that I was braver. I wish that I could come out once and be done with it. I wish I hadn’t spent so long repressing how I feel, but I don’t wish that I were straight. I am bisexual, even if I’m coming out slower than a sloth driving a beater car through a school zone.