It was National Coming Out Day yesterday, so I’m coming out… again. And here’s why.
I used to call myself “queer” because I thought bisexual implied a binary, but after studying my history a bit more I’ve come to feel that the spectrum of bisexuality has always been diverse, with people identifying that way who love men, women, nonbinary and intersex people, drag queens and crossdressers, gender-questioning and fluid, and agender people alike. Many of the gender-fluid/enby people I know identify in some way with the term bisexual, so clearly they’re not all worried it’s forcing a binary, hm?
In this light I came to feel that, for me, using a more vague term like “queer”, or a newer term like “pansexual” or “polysexual” would kind of be a cop-out, a bit like caving to my own internalized homophobia/biphobia, and would contribute to the bi erasure that makes LGBTQ spaces feel less welcoming for bi people like me. (If you have your own personal reasons for identifying with terms like these, that’s cool; I’m just talking about my own journey.)
I think ultimately, I just didn’t want someone else’s label applied to me, with baggage and connotations I hadn’t entirely signed up for and wasn’t ready to embrace. But – what a privilege! To just decide (or pretend) to live outside the system of oppression and control, rather than join in with my comrades, enjoy their companionship and yes feel a bit of the burden they carry. Isn’t that what family and community are about? You don’t always get to choose whose struggles become your struggles. They just turn up at your doorstep sometimes, and you invite them in.
This is not my natural way of thinking. For one, I was raised in a highly individualistic society, and for two, as a cis white dude I was basically never forced to accept or live with the consequences of anyone else’s labels. I hate to be “pigeon-holed”, having lived a life where in almost every respect I was permitted to define my own identity and reject externally imposed boundaries. To this day, I still really hate it and get really agitated if you mislabel one of my flaws – I will fight you over the difference between “sometimes has trouble focusing” and “sometimes focuses on the wrong things” … (and then feel really silly about it later).
But this year, I just kind of… shook it off. I guess I had a few experiences that really made me feel at home in an LGBTQ space. I realized that in the process of rejecting the “label” I was rejecting my place in the community. This year I shed that fear and apprehension and started identifying as bisexual, and let me tell you: it has been really nice. I’ve been able to relax and feel at home more in LGBTQ spaces and at LGBTQ events, I don’t feel like an imposter or an interloper, I’m less worried someone’s going to come along and ask to see my “queer card” – not simply because I’m embracing the term bisexual, but because I just know that life is too damn short to keep myself at arms length from people, from communities, where I can understand and feel understood, where I can learn to be comfortable in my own skin and reconcile this crazy fascist world we live in with the need to be really truly free.
So here I am. Happy National Coming Out Day everyone, I’m bi.