I’ve always been bi. But I haven’t always spoken up about it.
I grew up in Texas in a religious family, and I can’t remember even hearing the word bisexual until I was in high school. Instead, I giggled when other kids made jokes about being gay and had crushes on at least 3 different boys at all times. I also kissed girls growing up and into middle school — when I was still young enough that I called it “practicing” or “pretending” (that one of us was a boy, which made it okay), but old enough that tongue was involved, and eventually boobs too. It still never actually occurred to me that it might have anything to do with my own sexuality.
Then, in college, far-removed from my family and roots, I was ready to kiss anyone. Especially after a few beers. Because the reality is that, even as a bisexual cis-woman, I had no idea how to flirt with other women. I worried they might just laugh at me or roll their eyes at me. I worried I wasn’t actually queer enough to attempt to be queer, but that worry went away once I started drinking. So I kissed girls when I was drunk, and pined after boys when I wasn’t.
This went on for more years than I’d like to admit. And then I met my now-husband. I was suddenly wildly in love, and my sexuality outside our relationship didn’t really seem that important. He was newly divorced when we started dating, and his ex-wife also happened to be bisexual. I decided there was no real need for me to point out that I was too, in case it was a sticky subject with him. He knew I routinely got drunk and hooked up with women. It was no secret. And really, at this point, did it matter…?
Cut to nine years later. After lots of jobs, lots of moves, the loss of a baby, and a newborn who had thrown our whole lives into chaos, I still hadn’t officially brought up my bisexuality. And honestly, it still felt like it didn’t really matter. I’m sure that the vast majority of people who meet us assume I’m straight, and most of the time, correcting that assumption feels like a lot of energy I don’t really want to spend.
But then, a few months after our son was born, being open about my sexuality suddenly became important to me. Very important. It was never a secret, to be clear. Anyone who knew me in the years before I got married would not have been surprised by this news. But somehow, having a new tiny person whose life I was responsible for jolted me into the realization that I did, in fact, need to be open about my sexuality. With any and everyone.
I kept having this vision of my son as a teenager, struggling with his own sexuality, or working up the courage to come out to me, and me responding breezily when he finally did come out with something like, “Oh, hey, I’m bi too!” And him shaking with fury that I hadn’t saved him from this struggle by normalizing bisexuality from day one. The mama inside me — someone new and fierce and ready to do battle (or at least not sleep for days on end) to keep this tiny creature alive — this mama knew that I couldn’t let that happen.
So I put on my big girl pants and talked to my husband (who was like, duh) and to my friends (yeah, duh) and then finally to the internet. Most of the people who follow me on the internet were probably also thinking, yeah, duh, but instead sent only heart and rainbow emojis. Even my deeply Southern Baptist uncle sent me a two-word text, which probably meant more than all the emojis combined. It said simply, “Love you.”
Now we have a bi-pride flag flying from our balcony, and I out myself as frequently as possible with new acquaintances. Nothing has changed in my relationship with my husband. We’re happily monogamous; he is my person and there is no one else I’d rather do life with. But I feel better being vocal about this part of me that I let stay silent for so long. Owning my sexuality doesn’t mean I want to start having sex with women. It doesn’t mean I can’t be in a monogamous relationship with a cis-man. And I know that when people meet us, they’ll probably still first assume that I’m straight. So, in a lot of ways, not much has changed (although I will correct assumptions of straightness the first chance I get).
At the same time, I feel a huge sense of relief in parenting my son. Because he is the reason I finally understood the necessity of coming out, even when it’s not “necessary” or is perhaps inconvenient or uncomfortable. I don’t ever want him to think he has to be drunk to kiss boys, if he wants to kiss boys. I don’t ever want him to think any part of his identity is so unimportant that it’s okay for it to go unspoken for decades. And that’s what actually matters.