By Kylea Wright – Baltimore, MD
A lot of my friends in high school were lesbians. None of them were out at that point, and the “dating” that went on was pretty much a high school version of playing house. I wasn’t anywhere close to fully realizing my sexual identity at that point, but it put me in the mindset that no matter what sexual identity I had, it was not a big deal. I left high school absolutely unconcerned with the fact that I sometimes like liked other girls.
Bisexuals are Selfish and Attention Hungry
My freshman roommate was randomly selected and was wonderful in so many ways, but was also the person who made me think there might be something “wrong” with me. I remember the moment so clearly: we had eaten dinner and she was working on homework for a psychology course focused on human sexuality. She looked across the room at me and said, “You know, I just really hate bi people, they’re so selfish.” At the time I had a serious boyfriend, so there was no way she had any knowledge of my occasional sapphic desires, but I still felt something clench in my stomach as I said, “Oh yeah, why’s that?”
She explained to me her reason for hating bisexuals was two fold: First, she didn’t understand why they couldn’t “make up their minds” and had to be “after everybody.” Second, she thought it was unfair that if a bisexual person wanted to, they could “pass” as straight and avoid the negative social attention that gays and lesbians are subject to.
She was convinced all people who claimed to be bisexual were either too afraid to just come out as gay or were straight, but wanted the extra attention. She was not the last person I have run into with these views about bisexuals, but she was the first.
What exactly am I supposed to come out about?
During college I was one of those girls who was really good at saying, “I don’t need a relationship,” but also always seemed to be in one. They happen to be exclusively with men, though I never stopped being attracted to other females. Men were the ones that came after me, I liked guys and there wasn’t particularly an abundant, easily accessible group of lesbians anywhere close to the circles I ran in. So I carried on dating only boys.
Every time I started dating a new guy I said, “This is my boyfriend, his name is X.” I never said, “I am straight. Here is my also straight boyfriend,” which made not telling that I liked girls feel like a lie of omission at the very worst, but mostly like unnecessary information.
I am not saying it was always easy and I was never confused. Trust me, I cried about it sometimes. Most of my confusion came from the idea planted in my head by my freshman roommate: if admitting these feels would complicate my life, why would I date a girl when I could just continue dating guys?
Online Dating and the Rise of Woman
I have had relationships with women that began organically (read: did not meet them via online dating), but most of them were short lived. It seems strange to me, but I feel like online dating pushed me to make a decision about being in a relationship with a woman. As I set up my profiles, I had to decide if I wanted to exclude women from my dating pool. That’s when I decided that I didn’t. It wasn’t about claiming my identity or deciding to come out, it was about the fact that I equally enjoy dates with guys as with girls, and if I was going to try to find an optimal match using the internet, it seemed dumb to leave out half the pool.
As I started dating a lot more guys and gals, I kept returning to the same question, “In order to have a sexual identity, do I have to announce it to other people?” I wasn’t convinced that adding “likes girls and guys’”to my OkCupid dating profile was newsworthy or anyone’s business.
The first time I talked to my mother about going on a date with a girl, I approached it as casually as possible. We were on the phone and she asked what I was doing that evening. I responded, “Oh, I am going with Rachel tonight. I think we are going to go to a new restaurant.” I left things intentionally ambiguous, “going out” could be a date or going out with a friend. I figured my mom didn’t need to know anything serious until I was seriously dating someone.
This has become my main strategy. If someone asks me directly if I like women I respond “yes,” but it’s very rare for that to happen because who asks something like that? Mostly, it’s only something I talk about if it is pertinent to the conversation. I don’t try to hide it, but I also don’t make an effort to make it a well-known fact in my life.
Not Coming Out is a Privilege so I’m Gonna Use It.
Even having experienced my share of unpleasant reactions, I fully acknowledge I am coming from a place of extreme privilege. I live in a time where being bisexual does not have to be the defining feature of my life. Gay rights have come a long way even in my lifetime. Being gay is socially acceptable and while there are still major inequalities, (like all the states you can get fired in for being gay) things have gotten much better.
Yeah, I have extended family that I am more than a little nervous about what their reaction will be if I bring a woman home for Christmas. It’s part of the reason I would never say I am fully “out” and why I don’t post more pictures of girls on my Facebook when I’m dating them. I know when the time comes for me to have the “I am seriously dating a woman” conversation with my mother, she is going to ask me a bunch of questions I do not want to answer. But in the end she’ll chalk it up as another off-beat thing about the daughter she loves. But until those conversations need to happen, I prefer to keep my safety blanket of ambiguity.
Just because it confuses other people does not mean I am confused about it anymore. I date the people I want to date, I kiss the people I want to kiss and I fall in love with the humans that speak to my heart.