From time to time, some people still ask me what all the letters in the alphabet soup name of the LGBT community stand for. It’s interesting to watch the expressions on their faces when I rattle off the categories for them. The short Q & A sometimes leads to their coming out to me as a closeted member of one group of our community.
“Out” LGBT folks in small town Nebraska are far and few in-between. Cautious efforts to come out are often made by people asking the meaning of the LGBT acronym. People tell me that I’m a non-threatening character, so many people open up to me about many life issues, including sexuality. One of the latest people to come out to me, let out her bottled up frustrations over being a closeted bisexual. For the sake of this post, I’ll call her “Ann”.
She echoed many of the issues my other bisexual friends have told me affect them. Ann said she is happy that gays and lesbians have achieved several advances in the past few years, and that transgendered individuals are receiving better press these days. Ann says she feels invisible because the bisexual community seems to be in the “back seat” regarding progress in their own civil rights journey.
She is particularly upset with the “we don’t need labels” opinion voiced by many people within and outside of the gay community. People sometimes need a label to place on an important aspect of themselves. Like it or not, humans are very sexual creatures. Our sexuality is a major part of our lives. The importance of it is manifested in the recent kerfuffle over same sex marriage.
Ann says she doesn’t feel like her sexuality is taken very seriously by people she knows. She says she was fully prepared for the reactions from overly religious types. It is the lack of understanding by her straight friends and lesbians that make her reluctant to come out. I noted that the negative reactions from other people are a reflection of their own insecurities and discomfort with their own sexualities. In as much as Ann needs to be mindful of her own physical safety around bigoted people, she doesn’t need to internalize their negativity.
Ann confessed that she thought it would be easier to be lesbian or heterosexual. She’s tired of how many people believe that bisexuality isn’t real or worthy. She says she is not happy with people who say that she is only confused. It’s frustrating how many people, queer and straight, don’t understand the “in-between” sexuality. Ann believes that non-bi people feel intimidated in the company of bisexuals.
I reminded Ann that there are a great number of supportive straight people and members of the greater LGBT community. A more positive consciousness has been happening as more bisexuals come out of their closets. For the most part, the rest of us not only tolerate bisexuals, we fully accept them unconditionally. Bisexuals are an important group to include as society continues its never-ending discussion of sexuality in particular and humanity in general. I assured her that I don’t think she is intruding on my territory.
Ann said she decided to approach me because she had heard that Bisexuality Awareness Week is in September. That fact made it feel safe for her to bring up the subject. I suggested that she take some time this week, and especially on Celebrate Bisexuality Day, to mindfully reflect on her experiences and feelings about being a bi-woman. She might also consider coming out to more people who she judges as more accepting and sympathetic.
Coming out is a milestone for all of us in the LGBT community. Right now, the barriers, societal and self-imposed, are in place for bisexuals. It’s time to break down those walls and fully include bisexual people into our lives. Regardless of our own personal sexualities, it’s helpful and healthful to Celebrate Bisexuality today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders if September 23rd was chosen as bisexuality day because one of the Equinoxes falls on or near this date. The Equinoxes have long-lived associations with spiritual events and meanings.