Questions & Answers

Is coming out different for bi people?

Coming out is different for bi people than it is for gay people in several ways.  Most importantly, the coming out process never really ends for bisexual people.  Typically, bi people must come out to each and every person they date. If a bi person gets serious with someone from the straight community, they must come out to that person. If a bi person gets serious with someone from the gay or lesbian community, they must come out to that person too.  Of course, this process can be simplified by coming out before the first date.  Still, that is a level of disclosure that is not expected of straight, gay or lesbian people (whose orientation is just assumed by virtue of the gender of their date).  Unfortunately, biphobic reactions are far too common and almost every bisexual person has horror stories to share about dating or courting a straight, gay, or lesbian person for whom bisexuality was a deal-breaker.  That additional risk of romantic rejection, rejection because of one’s sexual orientation, is not a hurdle faced by straight and gay people.  Hopefully, as bisexuality is better understood and becomes more accepted, that will change for the better.


I would imagine that coming out as a bisexual comes with the same challenges as dealing with any 'truth' that pushes the boundaries of the social norms. I think it's important to come out to yourself and accept who you are before you come out to others. No one should be forced. We all have our own timeline.


My sexual attraction to women surfaced before my sexual attraction to men, so I attempted to come out as a lesbian first. Then, four years later, I had to come out all over again because I fell in love with a man. One of the only people I came out to was my mom, and she treated it like two separate occurrences. First I "thought" I was a lesbian, then I fell in love with a man, which was the "truth". When I was growing up, people talked about being gay or lesbian, but not being bisexual. I didn't know I could be. That made it impossible to come out as bisexual! I couldn't claim to be something I didn't know existed.

So I think coming out is different for bisexual people because we can easily "come out" on one side or the other without realizing the second attraction (to men or women, whichever showed itself second). Then when we get a crush on a different gender than the one we "picked", people get confused and think that we aren't attracted to the first one anymore.

Bisexuals, to me, run an increased risk of people not believing them.


Yes it is. It is more complicated. When a person comes out as gay, he is telling people he is not heterosexual, and they get that. But coming out as bi is, confusingly, not clearly one orientation or the other. Worse, many people will question why a bi person, especially one already in a relationship that will continue, needs to come out at all. So you find yourself, as a bi person, needing to justify, even to yourself, why you really do want to come out as a bisexual. For me, it comes down to a need that never goes away to want to be open about myself.


It was definitely more complicated for me and this is one of the reasons (the other/much more important reason is that I was very much in love with a man) that I came out as gay, to my friends in college. Being slightly effeminate it actually made some people more comfortable with me than if I had said I was straight (fortunately a very limited number of people thought this way).

It wasn't until I was in my late 20s and several erotic dreams about female friends of mine followed later by the most intense crush I have had on anyone, on another woman, that I then began to wonder if I might actually be bisexual. It then took me at least 10 years for me to finally come around to labeling myself this way. Other identities considered were far more provocative and less readily descriptive (at least in my opinion): ex-gay and queer. Both of which would be a red flag to people of different political persuasions.


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