Hello, my loves!
Happy National Coming Out Day!
As someone who has had the enormous privilege of being out as bisexual and queer for the entirety of my adult life, I am spending today basking in gratitude for the support, acceptance and celebration I have received from all of my family and friends.
I am also wishing happiness, comfort and support to anyone who is struggling right now with whether or how or how much to come out to the people in their lives, with whatever aspect of their identities they feel they have to hide. It’s such a hard and lonely place to be.
It is in support of those who still have to hide that I am announcing and celebrating my sexuality on this National Coming Out Day. No-one who knows me will be shocked or surprised; I am not revealing any secrets. But I am increasing my visibility as a functional, happy, successful bisexual woman. I am increasing my visibility as a bisexual feminist activist, with a place in the LGBTQ community. And visibility – visibility is important.
. . .
When I was 15, all I knew about my sexuality was that I definitely wasn’t gay. I liked boys! Quid pro quo. Case closed. I didn’t have anything to fear from being gay – my grandmother was gay, my school had a prominent Gay-Straight Alliance and a supportive, liberal culture – but I just . . . wasn’t gay.
The fluttering teenage lust and fascination that I felt for girls seemed pretty much irrelevant. It was just aesthetic appreciation. .. or something. Everyone knew girls were prettier than boys. The gigantic and (now embarrassingly obvious) crushes I felt were just, y’know. . . really intense one-sided friendships?
And then I met a girl who was openly bisexual. I don’t remember her name, anymore. I vaguely remember what she looked like, and that she was kind, and funny, and smart. I remember the grassy area outside of school where we were standing when she mentioned, casually, that she was bisexual. And the freakin’ lightbulb clicked on.
She was the first person I came out to.
. . .
As I became more comfortable in my identity and more interested in social justice, I joined my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Shortly afterwards, I became (through a coup, but that’s another story) president. I loved it, and fully planned on continuing LGBT activism when I was in college.
And then I got to college, and immediately fell in love with a boy. Overwhelming, head-over-heels, all-consuming 18-year-old love. And all of a sudden, my identity as far as the world was concerned was. . .straight. Being coded that way carries an immense amount of privilege – but at the same time, it shut me out of the LGBTQ community.
I felt like I didn’t have a right to be there anymore. I didn’t have a right to be an activist for that cause, or march in pride parades, or speak on those issues. I became an ally, not an insider.
Nobody told me these rules outright. There was no sign on the door to the clubhouse reading “Bisexuals Not Welcome”. But there didn’t really have to be. Representation speaks for itself.
. . .
Representation in the media is a big factor in visibility. So is having role models in real life and on the internet.
Being vocal and visible as someone of a minority group – being out – is important. It counters negative stereotypes. It gives young people role models and visions for their own future. It lets people who are feeling alone and scared know that there is a community waiting to welcome them. And it relieves you of the burden of keeping part of yourself a secret.
Your self – your whole self – is beautiful and worthy of being announced to the world. This National Coming Out Day, I hope you join me in creating a world that is safer for everyone to be wholly themselves, without fear.