Why I’m Not Coming Out as Bisexual to My Family
This fall, I finally admitted to and embraced my bisexuality after spending so many years preferring the term hetero-flexible, which isn’t incorrect either.
But as a fellow writer, Brooklyn Thomas so eloquently pointed out — it was just as disingenuous as saying bi-curious. It hedged my truth and kept heterosexuality at the forefront of my attraction scale.
I freed myself — shouted to the internet mountain tops sharing it across social media — but I refuse to come out to my family formally.
Bisexuals Are Less Likely to Say Their Sexual Orientation is Important to their Identity
In the full spectrum of my truth, I was never indeed in a closet per se. I actively engaged in sexual situations with women, and before ever losing my ‘virginity’ to a man, I had my sexual awakening with a woman.
However, in the past, I didn’t want to categorize myself under the bisexual label because my sexual orientation isn’t an identifier or who I am as a person.
According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of nearly 1,200 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults. Bisexuals are much less likely than gay men and lesbians to say that their sexual orientation is an important part of who they are. Only 20% of bisexuals say being bisexual is extremely or very important to their overall identity. The shares of gay men (48%) and lesbians (50%) who say the same about their sexual orientations are much higher. (Due to the small number of transgender adults in the survey, it’s not possible to break out their responses. However, they are included in the total LGBT shares reported here.) — Source
In 2013, Bisexuals were also much less likely than gay men or lesbians to have “come out” to the important people in their life. Only 28% of bisexuals say all or most of the important people in their life know they are bisexual. By comparison, 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians say the important people in their life know about their sexual orientation. — Source
In 2019, About one-quarter of bisexual adults (26%) are not “out” to any of the important people in their lives, compared with 4% of gay and lesbian adults. — Source
Even knowing that I fall well within the statistics of bisexuals who choose not to disclose their sexual orientation to people, I have my reasons for doing so.
My sexual orientation doesn’t influence my person-hood.
Sexual orientation is about who you’re attracted to and who you feel drawn to romantically, emotionally, and sexually. It’s different than gender identity. Gender identity isn’t about who you’re attracted to, but about who you ARE — male, female, genderqueer, etc. — Source
My family hasn’t always accepted my life choices. Or aspects of my personality that have led me to make individual decisions — like atheism, living a nomadic lifestyle, and avoiding marriage.
But they’ve always allowed me to express myself even though they disagree; they love me anyway. I’ve always been different, following the beat of my drum and subverting expectations placed on me.
What I’ve never done is invite family members into my bedroom where my sexual history is concerned. No one knows who I’ve had sex with or haven’t had sex with since they’ve only ever met one boyfriend. I prefer to keep my sexual life private.
I’m a firm believer in having boundaries with my family. For most of my adult life, I’ve been single most of them have already made their minds up about who I am.
A few years ago, while I was still living home in the Bahamas, my grandmother called me. By way of greeting, said, “your aunt thinks you’re a lesbian.” I erupted in laughter because the aunt in question was such an annoying busy body that she’d go to such lengths to excuse my privacy and singleness.
Someone saw me hugging the leader of the Rainbow Alliance, an LGBTQ activist group in the Bahamas, which translated to lesbian. Guilty by association. I told my grandmother that, like her, I have friends who flow within a spectrum of identities and sexual orientation; it isn’t a marker of my sexual orientation.
But so, what if I was, does it matter, and why is it news? This very aunt would continuously barrage me with questions about my love life and would bristle at my vague-avoidant answers.
Who I fuck has no bearing on who I am as a person. I don’t hide who I am, and while I’ve run away from my issues for years, I seldom don a mask and perform. What you see is what you get, and this has always been a universal truth.
Therefore, I don’t see the point in telling my family that I’m sexually attracted to both men and women. Or I’ve had sexual relationships with women. The knowledge doesn’t change who they know me to be, but it would change how they view me.
Like most black people, my family is deeply conservative and religious.
Beyond this, I grew up in a homophobic culture that is so disgusting to LGBTQ members — some have successfully sought asylum in Canada to live their lives as they wish. My family has conservative values and is deeply religious. Homosexuality, as prescribed by the Bible, and their god is an abomination.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has always been a cautionary tale against limiting and stifling the LGBTQ community in the Bahamas. Even when people have work colleagues, friends, and acquaintances who are openly LGBTQ, these individuals still cite the community as sinful, demon-possessed, and destined for the fires of hell.
When I came out as an atheist to my family members, all hell broke loose. For weeks I was baited into debates over my lack of belief, chided for going contrary to how my parents raised me. And they told me I was wrong for walking away from god.
Coming out as bisexual after my family got to the point of being indifferent to my atheism would be a battle I am just too exhausted to fight. Nor do I feel the need to bear arms and start the war. My silence allows me to remain neutral. Call me Switzerland.
I don’t need any commentary on things I cannot change my sexual orientation.
The revelation of my dual sexual nature would only spark unwanted opinions about my sexual orientation, inspire gossip, and incite arguments. For one, I know how individual members of my family would react.
My father wouldn’t care either way while my mother would lose her mind, grab her anointing oil, start speaking in tongues, and try to cast the devil out of me. No thanks, I’m good. My brothers would roll their eyes and then make fun of me — in reality; they don’t care either. Other family members would use it as an opportunity. To pad further their files labeled ‘black sheep.’ and used clever tactics to shame me to my face — I’m not interested in any of this.
The consensus would be that I’m confused, Too worldly, and somehow, I allowed Europe to corrupt me to their libertine ways. They would not know this has been my reality long before living in Europe.
Everyone would cite my godlessness as the reason for something that is as intrinsically me as my brown eyes. Fuck all of that.
ZUVA wrote a very in-depth take on not coming out to her own family, as she explains in the aptly titled Coming Out Isn’t a Rite of Passage into the LGBTQ+ Community,
But do I want to martyr myself for the greater good? It feels selfish. I know I am being selfish. But why must it always be the Black woman who uses her body to build a bridge so others can walk across the canyon?
I have spent years cultivating a life that is protected and blocked off from family and church members. Do I want to blow up that safety net? Do I want to be the first?
Coming Out Isn’t a Rite of Passage into the LGBTQ+ Community
I am never coming out to my conservative Christian, African parents, and that’s ok
I don’t want to be the first, nor do I feel it necessary to do so. My sexuality isn’t going to be the defining aspect of who I am. The only person I felt compelled to admit my bisexuality to was myself. Once I did that, there was no one else that needed to know.
My truth belongs to me — I don’t owe them this knowledge.
If family members find out by way of reading my thoughts on the subject, then that’s fine, I am not open to discussing it with them either.
It’s not my job to assuage whatever homophobic feelings they may have toward me. And my sexual orientation or make them understand how I can feel attraction for multiple genders.
While it may sound incredibly insular and yes selfish, I could give a fuck about sharing this aspect of myself with them. This truth is mine.
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