Coming Out Bi For National Coming Out Day

10/8/2018

Photo credit: Jon Viscott

You might not have been able to come out last month during Bi Awareness Week and are feeling a little disappointed. You wanted to let your friends, coworkers, and loved ones know about your sexuality, but nerves got in the way. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It took me a while to come out to everyone in my family as bi — quite literally years. Coming out, especially as bi, is a process. So never feel guilty that you weren’t able to tell your family members sooner.

Still, you know you can come out any day, but if you would like another opportunity where you will be supported by the online community, I suggest coming out this week on National Coming Out Day, which takes place on October 11.

Coming out can be a difficult process, and for people living in conservative towns or coming from traditional/religious households, it can be even harder, but here are some tips to help give you the courage to come out this National Coming Out Day.

1. Remember your identity is a journey

Your identity can, and most likely will, change over the course of your life. You’re no longer stuck with one label. I, for one, identify as bi, pansexual, and queer. There are many labels under the bi umbrella and you are free to try them all until you find the one that fits. The power in labels is that they allow you to become part of a community. So while labels can be daunting, they’re not permanent. Don’t feel that you have to commit to anything forever.

2. You don’t have to know everything about your sexuality

One reason I took so long to come out was because I didn’t have everything “figured out.” I was afraid my parents would ask me, “So do you plan to be with a man or woman long-term?” “Are you gonna tell your boss?” “What does this mean for us having grandchildren?” I couldn’t answer those questions. In fact, years later, I still can’t answer those questions! Never feel as if you have to know everything about your identity and the unknowable future just because you claim the bi label.

3. Come out confidently and proudly

Even if you’re not 100 percent sure, pretend you are. Here’s why: if you show any hesitation, people will dismiss your orientation, and you don’t want to have to deal with that nonsense. If you say, “I think I’m bi,” people will say you’re confused or try to tell you you’re gay or straight. However, if you say it confidently, people are more likely to believe you. This shouldn’t be the case, but sadly, it is.

So say it like you mean it. Say it like you’re positive. Also, say it in a way that’s not a big deal. You don’t need to say, “I have something important I need to tell you.” You don’t have a deadly cancer. You don’t want people to treat you like you’re dying. You just like multiple genders. The less of a deal you make it, the less of a deal it becomes.

4. Remember you’re not alone

Hopefully, now with the influx of content, visibility, and general discourse surrounding bisexuality, you know you’re not alone. Personally, I really thought that bi men didn’t exist — even though I went to Vassar College and took a course called “Queer Theory.” The thing was, I didn’t know a single other man who identified as bi. And the few that did identify as bi, quickly said they were gay within a few weeks. If I had known that there are literally millions of men in the world who identify as bi, I wouldn’t have felt so alone. I wouldn’t have been so afraid to come out. So remember, you’re not alone, and if you feel like you are, join an online bi support group. There are dozens to pick from!

There is also a huge and vibrant bi community. I mean, we just had the first Bi Pride in West Hollywood last month where hundreds of people showed! How cool is that?

5. Coming out lifts a weight from your shoulders

This doesn’t only pertain to bisexuality. Being closeted in any way has adverse psychological effects, and once you come out, you often (although it might take a little bit of time) feel so much better. It’s nice to no longer hide.  And yes, there will be some friends or family members who reject you once you come out, but you can start surrounding yourself with people who love and embrace you for all of who you are, instead of hiding yourself from the people you don’t think will accept the real you.

Our Lord and Savior RuPaul Charles talks about this idea of “chosen family” a lot. Especially for the bi and queer community, it’s important to remember that we can choose who our brothers and sisters are.

So this National Coming Out Day, try to come out if you can (and only if it’s safe to do so! If you’re going to be kicked out of your house without a place to live or any monetary prospects, it might not be the time to come out).

And I can promise you, while not everyone may accept you for your sexuality, the bi community will welcome you with open arms.

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.