If You Support Me, You Can’t Ask Me To Hide
I count myself incredibly lucky to have the backing I do as an openly bi man. I couldn’t ask to have a more supportive family, as both my immediate and extended family members offer continual love and guidance, and I have an amazing group of close friends who accept me as I am without question. I know that as far as the LGBTQ+ community goes, I am a very lucky person in this respect.
However, there is a phrase I have heard since coming out that has been directed at me and that I have heard directed towards others. Initially I was okay with it, but now I cannot stand to hear it.
The basic version of this phrase is this: “I support you, I just don’t want to hear or see anything about your lifestyle.” It can come in a variety of formats, but the gist is typically the same.
As I mentioned, when I first came out, I was fine with hearing this. I was just becoming comfortable with myself and publicly being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, so I was thrilled to hear any version of “I support you” that came my way. I could even see their viewpoint to a certain degree; I wanted to give them time to adjust to having a bi friend…just as I needed some time to adjust to publicly being myself.
However, as time has progressed, I have begun to see this phrase as more of a cop out than an actual expression of sincere support. I’m not sure that the straight people I have heard this from understand how non-supportive it actually is (it took me awhile to recognize as well) but that’s the point of this article; to get those who say this to understand what they’re actually expressing when they say it to someone like me.
When I hear it, it feels like you’re telling me to stay in the closet. You can’t claim to support me as an LGBTQ+ individual and then ask me to censor everything about that part of my life; that is not support in the slightest. To me, it means you just said you support me because that is the socially acceptable thing to do and in reality, wish I would keep my life private and under wraps. In short, you are asking me to hide who I am.
The thing is, I spent 22 years of my life censoring myself; asking me to continue to do so because you can’t handle seeing the real me isn’t fair. If you can’t, I guess the point has come for our paths to diverge.
If you truly support me, you should want to see me living my best life and sometimes, that is going to include things that you might not regularly see. Instead of asking me to keep “the whole bi thing” to myself, perhaps you should educate yourself and broaden your mind to be more open to experiencing and accepting new ways of life.
As a bi man, I sometimes find that I’ll get this kind of response from both heterosexual and homosexual people; gay men don’t want to hear about women, straight men don’t want to hear about guys. In the past, it has made life incredibly exhausting, trying to figure out who I could say what to and when.
But like I said, I spent the majority of my life doing this exhausting self-censorship and I’ve come to the point where it’s just a waste of energy. I don’t go out of my way to make anyone deliberately uncomfortable, but no longer will I keep my life hidden or apologize for being myself in order to placate the expectations of a few.
If that is an issue for you, I can’t help you. Either accept me as who I am or take yourself and “that whole discrimination thing” out of my life for good.