Happy Bi Visibility Day, friends! Now that it’s now been exactly one year since I shared this coming-out post, I thought it would be a great time to share some of the things I’ve learned in the past year.
When I first posted, there were some things I expected to happen:
I expected to lose some “friends” on social media (I did).
I expected my spouse to lose some “friends” on social media (he did).
I expected to hear from some people who didn’t know but weren’t surprised (I did).
I expected to get a lot of questions about why I needed to say anything at all (I did).
I expected to hear from some people who were surprised because they didn’t realize I hadn’t been out publicly before then (I did).
I expected to feel much more authentic and whole (I absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, did.)
I expected some would take me up on my offer to confidentially come out to me (they did).
But do you know what I DID NOT expect? I did not expect how many people would come out to me. I mean, I thought maybe two or three would?
I lost count of exactly how many… somewhere in the mid-twenties. Two dozen people, give or take, have written or texted or called or talked to me and said, “I am too. I am bisexual but just can’t be out right now.” **
Some of these people are pastors, but not all. The overwhelming majority are in opposite-sex partnerships (married or seriously dating), and some are single. Many are Disciples of Christ but some are of other Christian denominations and others atheist . Some were looking to “practice” the words, so they can have the confidence to come out to those they love — or publicly; others were saying them for the first time, unsure if they’d ever say them again. Some would love to be out but are afraid of what that would mean for their current or future employment. None of them were strangers to me; I know all of them personally.
In all of these conversations, I’ve found myself saying many of the same things over and over. And for the two dozen or so people who have reached out to me, I know that there are dozens more who are still concealed. (If you think you don’t know anyone who is bi, you do. You just might not know that about them yet…)
Last year, I wrote mainly for people who were surprised to hear this about me. Today, I have a different message, with love, to those who are bi themselves, but aren’t out. Because today can be really really hard, but even still, you aren’t alone.
To Those Who Are Hidden on Bi Visibility Day:
Gather ‘round. Listen closely, friends. Whether you imagine hearing this in a big group of people because you need to be surrounded by others who understand, or with me looking you straight in the eyes because you need to see it to believe it, this is for you:
You are okay.
You are enough.
Whether you’re out to just a couple people or to no one at all, it’s okay.
If you are partnered with someone and are not sure if you are “really” bisexual because of that, your sexuality is not determined by who you’re with (for now or forever). No one else owns your sexuality or can decide that you “aren’t gay enough.” Yes, I know people say that. But being with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t make you straight any more than eating an apple makes you a vegetarian. You are who you are, regardless of who they are.
If you are single and are not sure if you are “really” bisexual because of that, your sexuality is not determined by being with anyone at all. If people don’t understand because you “might end up partnered with someone of the opposite sex and it won’t even matter,” remember that your identity is yours and yours alone. Whether and when you come out has everything to do with what you choose, and nothing to do with dating (unless you want it to be!). Orientation is about identity, not behavior, so you don’t need someone to prove you’re enough.
If you wonder why you are however-many-years-old and are just now starting to come into an awareness of your sexuality, remember that life is a constant process in self-discovery. There is never an end to that, and sometimes, for reasons out of our control, we might be older than others when we discover certain things. And that’s okay.
If you’re young and are afraid of how your parents might respond, you are so loved. You have the rest of your life ahead of you, and you get to decide when and to whom you come out. You might find a trusted adult in your life who can help navigate this. You don’t have to come out, but your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual safety are important to everyone who cares about you… and a lot of people care about you.
If you’re wondering when or how to come out “the right way,” this is super important: there isn’t a right way. Some do it slowly; others, like a switch flipped. You might tell the people closest to you because you trust them so much, or you might tell a stranger first to practice saying the words. There is no right way – there is just your way. If you’re wondering if you should, just remember:
You can, but you don’t have to.
You can, but you don’t have to.
You can, but you don’t have to.
And if you have… feelings… that it is Bi Visibility Day and you can’t be out — for whatever reason — it’s okay. Maybe next year you will be, or maybe not. Everyone is on their own journey, and whether or not you are out right now does not mean you are any more or less who you are. I know some people find private ways to celebrate the day, like using the bi flag colors to do some artwork that no one else would see or understand. You do you! Take heart in the stories of those who are visible, not because you necessarily need to be, but because you’re not alone. No matter what, remember that. You are not alone.
I know it can be hard to watch social media posts on days like this (and National Coming Out Day and Pride Month…), knowing that your identity is concealed. There are a lot of feelings that can arise – of resentment, anger, frustration, shame, guilt, inadequacy, and others. I can’t change your feelings, but what I can affirm is that your identity is not determined by social media. I know, I know. It feels like it is. I promise, it isn’t. I publicly posted a year ago, and was out to others long before that, but neither of those things made me bi. Being bi made me bi.
What I hope you’re hearing is: You are okay. You are enough. You have the ability to decide who knows what and when. You are not obligated to anyone.
You are you.
And that’s okay.
** The offer stands! I approve all comments on this blog, so if you leave a comment and don’t want it public, please let me know that. Also feel free to email me at revsaranavefisher -at- gmail -dot- com if you want to talk, or just practice saying the words…