THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS STRAIGHT:
Reflections on A Year Out as BI
Last year on this day I came out as Bisexual* at the ripe old age of 42 (although some close friends knew and other’s had secretly guessed). I had decided to come out publicly as I felt my ongoing silence in the matter was contributing to bi-erasure, so partly the proclamation was a matter of conscience. However, a large factor contributing to my coming out was that I wasn’t getting any pussy from the closet, something I failed to mention in my public announcement (featured below), and it was high time to “make it rain” (pun intended).
As someone who also is bipolar, I live my mental illness out in a very public way, feeling being open is crucial to reducing stigma. This has not always been the case. I have outed my mental illness several times and closeted myself again several times. When I was participating in the arts scene I was “out” as the danger for stigma was much less so than when I switched careers to an industry that was still very rife with prejudice and in which I actively closeted myself for several years until I felt safe to out myself. As always, with both sexuality and mental health, context for being out or in the closet is always important. As an “out” bisexual it’s not always safe for me to be out, but it is definitely safer for me in Toronto than many of our tribe around the world or those marginalized in ways I am not, so my experience will not speak for many others.
So it might have come as a surprise to some when I came out as bisexual so late in the game particularly when I had a reputation for being loud and proud about my mental illness.
Here are a few of the reasons that held me back as expressed in my coming out announcement:
Another reason I failed to mention at the time that hindered me from coming out, and GUIZE THIS IS SUPER EMBARRASSING TO ADMIT BECAUSE IT REVEALS THE DICKBAG EGOIST I AM:
As a hypersexual woman with a gregarious and raunchy personality, I have little trouble falling out of bed in the mornings onto dick. In other words: I can’t swing a dead cat without getting propositioned by men. I have learned how to both gently and vehemently rebuff unwanted attention with a various success: from strangers, acquaintances, bosses, close male friends, colleagues and even relatives. This is not a monthly/weekly occurrence. This is a constant factor in my life.
So I kinda began to believe my pussy was the cat’s meow. HOW COULD I POSSIBLY COME OUT EXPRESSING MY AVAILABILITY AND DEAL WITH ALL THE WOMEN WHO WERE BOUND TO BE CRUSHING ON ME!!?? I did the math in my head for a long time and as a numbers game felt it would be overwhelming to have the hordes of women who were bound to think I was the hot shit, all vying for my amorous attention in addition to the men. And what about all my gay friends? If they knew I was bisexual, how could I gently rebuff their interest when I just wanted to stay friends? It was hard enough rejecting male friends realizing that my lack of interest in them personally would threaten our platonic relationship.
A year later I realize my egotistical fears were completely unfounded. In fact, I’m pleased/not-so-pleased to report: NONE OF MY GAY FRIENDS, NOT A SINGLE ONE (outside of some innocent flirting online) have expressed interested in tapping my fine self, let alone transform our relationship into lurve. Maybe I am not relationship material or quite the “catch” I’ve deluded myself to be. ;)
In fact, the reverse has been true. Since I’ve come out, I’ve hardly had any attention from the “goils.” I have tried online dating with disappointing results.
1) By far and large those who approach me online are couples looking for a unicorn, and solo straight men who want to enlist me in their search for a threeway to cross off their bucket list.
2) Queer women my age end up ghosting me/standing me up. I think sometimes this has been because of my bisexual status and not taking my sexuality/interest ‘for realz’. But the converse is true, baby queers who just came out, the bi-curious (or those who I like to say are in bi-denial), are a timid lot sometimes, and I can be a bit epic.
3) The one queer date that actually came to fruition through online dating I was so nervous I turned the whole dinner into a three act performance of my life
4) For some, publicly dating even in Toronto is not safe for them. It feels unseemly for me to baby-bi whine about “how hard dating is” when others face stigma that far supersedes my own experiences, but I think important to touch upon for cis het readers who take for granted they rarely need to be conscious of the safety of their date in public.
I have done a “little better” in meatspace but have found those that have expressed interest/flirtations are:
1) Girls aged twenty-three or younger
2) Straight girls.
Now I know it can be common for there to be big age differences in the lesbian community, but I myself don’t feel comfortable with that for myself personally, and know it’s my own issue entirely. It just brings to my mind my experience with men twenty years older than me when I was that age and the imbalanced power dynamics, and it is triggering as fuck.
Straight girls. Sigh. I have made out with more straight girls this year because my gaydar must be broken, and only realizing it too late they are using me to titillate some cis het ass hat. Blargh.
But there are a couple of other reasons that have hindered my dating life with women.
One, for a big part of last year I had chronic bv which is super contagious women to women and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. So for a good portion of last year I just didn’t pursue girl-on-girl entanglements. And as my life was in a constant state of putting out garbage fires, I wasn’t in a place to seriously date. Some relationships simply couldn’t develop/be nurtured because I was in one crisis after another.
Second, I’m fucking lazy as shit. The villiage is sooooo farrrrr awayyyyy. I have to get on a street car and everything. I’ve learned, opposed to dating men, dating women takes….effort, contradicting my long held belief/fantasy that somehow it would just happen. We would be sitting on the couch together and then have a spontaneous tickle fight that would lead to kissing. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
But third: and this is the BIG ONE. Female friendships are so fraught, SO FRAUGHT. And great female friendships GIVE LIFE, they are a TREASURE. For my queer friends that I am attracted to, I’m terrified of the cost of the relationship not working out. If you lose a platonic male friend because we “went there”: pfffft (Fine, take your emotional unavailability somewhere else, see what I care). But if a friendship with a queer woman who I adored blew up because we did? It would be devastating.
And another thing I have found in my year of being out. Rejection/dick-bag behaviour from a woman STINGS SO MUCH MORE to me than from a man. Perhaps it is because I idealize female relationships too much, or because I never got over “mean girl” interactions in elementary school. But when a women rejects me, I’m just all: BUT WHY DOESN’T SHE LIKE ME!!?? WHAT’S WRONG WITH MEEEEEEEEE!!!!! and find myself flipping on Warsan Shire’s For Women Difficult to Love on loop while crying and eating chocolate in my underwear despite the fact I tend to find myself running more on the heteromantic end of the spectrum: and I’m still puzzling out if fear of rejection from women is the source of that or if, and this is a hard one to admit, I’ve internalized a faux safety in dating men due to the stigma at large.
Or maybe, with women, I am a “love ’em and leave ‘em” type. However, over this last year, I have become more and more comfortable with the fact that I’m not “that guy,” while also accepting it is not skeevy to waggle my eyebrows at a woman with sexual/romantic interest.
And I’m also beginning to notice more and more when a queer woman is checking me out on the street. ZING! (The side cut helps: WHO KNEW?)
I’m still awfully shy around girls I like but I’m pleased to report I kissed a girl and felt completely comfortable with my sexuality.
Straight Dudes…. sigh
My experience with men since I’ve come out has only become more negative. I still face a lot of “you are not really bisexual” accusations or interrogations putting my sexual history, or lack thereof, with women on trial. But what’s harder now is not knowing if a guy is dating me because he is genuinely interested or, once they learn of my status, is seeing me as a golden ticket for a threeway. Often I find the “getting to know you” phase quickly turns into sussing out “my type” which soon leads to men creating scenarios in which I am thrown in “chance” meetings with their questionably available female friends. I might think we are having a date, and suddenly it’s an awkward three way coffee at least two of us weren’t expecting.
I CAUGHT ONE DUDE TEXTING ANOTHER GIRL TO COME OVER WHILE I WAS RIDING ON TOP OF HIS DICK
Even at Pride this year, I had one cis-het come up to me, with his girlfriend in tow, saying he wished she had tits like mine and he’d like to suck on them. “MAYBE PRIDE ISN’T FOR YOU,” I roared at him, feeling more embarrassed for his mortified gf than for myself. I guess I’ve learned to expect this behaviour.
Nonetheless, this kinda of conduct is just driving me to want to dive back into the closet as being “out” with men often means I’m seen for my sexuality, and not, you know, as a person. I find myself becoming more and more quiet about my status with cis het men, while conversely the opposite is true with women and queers.
THE BETTER BI-WAY
I think the greatest change I’ve had this last year is on a political front. Claiming queerness for myself has allowed me to be bolder in talking about LGBT+ issues, and enjoying a deeper connection with my queer friends. And most surprisingly, my bisexual status on online dating sites also has allowed for closeted/baby queers to ping me and ask questions about sexuality as they begin the journey to come out, and I treasure these interactions.
Contrary to my fears, no one has administered me a failing grade at being bad at bi — despite my lack of success on the female dating front. In fact, the opposite has been true, where friends have reassured me my sexuality is valid and that I’m queer enough (the strongest vocal/emotional support coming from our bi and trans sisters) but I haven’t gotten any of the questioning of my sexuality from lesbians that I have gotten from straight men. I also have come to terms with my past discomfort in some queer spaces has less to do with the anxiety of my own sexuality but prevailing anti-inclusive attitudes within that are at odds with anti-oppression intersectional feminism and my anti-capitalist/corporatist beliefs (…cough…PrideTo…cough). And now I feel more confident and apt to speak to those issues, and being a better ally along the way.
I’m still getting the hang of dating/flirting with women, but it’s also reaffirming to know that I’m not alone. I’ve taken a lot of comfort in Erin Rodgers’s Date Lab series on dating after coming out, and going on practice dates, being surprised how much our journeys have been similar. (Really recommend you read the entire series).
Finally, I’ve become more confident that my bi-ness is not dependent on my success in dating women or getting a notch on my belt to have my bisexuality street cred affirmed. In reality, I have been as much unsuccessful in relationships with men over my years as women, and no one has ever questioned put my sexual attraction to the guys on trial.
So with renewed spirit and many lessons learned, I look forward to continued unsuccess with all genders in the next year!
*I prefer the term bi for myself although some would designate me a pansexual as I am trans inclusive in my sexual/romantic desire. But the label bi for me is about the inbetweeness of my own psyche, and living/navigating the inbetweeness rather than about all of whom I desire.