Meet Armen. Armen Is In The Closet.

7/5/2017

Meet Armen. Armen is bi. Armen is in the closet.

“Disappointment,” Armen responded when I asked him to describe his fear of coming out in one sentence. He went on to elaborate, “My parents…uh, my dad, he’s not my biological father. He’s been in my life since I was two. He’s a very masculine, kind of like a guy’s guy, y’know?: sports, beer, y’know? I’m not really that kind of guy, but I do enjoy my drink, but I don’t necessarily… Not big into sports. …my brother’s lot. I’m more like the smart, artsy-fartsy kind of guy. My mom is a little more tolerant. I would say my dad is probably, too, but I think they would be quite surprised if they knew that. And maybe, who knows, maybe they already do know but I never really felt the need to tell them because they’re not in my bed. From my posts on Facebook, I’m pretty sure a few have probably seen some shared posts I might have commented on (about bisexual issues).” Armen speaks like it wouldn’t be a big deal if they knew, but the fact that he hasn’t come out to them yet shows me that his reservations about coming out bi to his parents are still massive.

How does he feel about how the lesbian, gay, asexual and straight communities accept bi people? Armen notes, “I think it varies from person to person. I think the LGBTQ is not really a community. It’s just an acronym for separate communities. When we have Pride, we go there for a sense of belonging with like-minded people but what we find is, at least, in the bisexual community, and it could be said for the asexuals as well, when you go there you feel a little bit alienated.” Bi people and ace people both share the unique ability to appear invisible in not only queer spaces but also straight spaces, a dilemma that creates anxiety within themselves and a sense of exclusion from those groups as a whole.

Armen shared with me his views on the broad range of bi people within the LGBTQ community. He says, “I’m not too familiar with how many bisexuals are out or how many, as far as the ratio is concerned, women to men. I would say there are probably a lot more gay-identified men who are bisexual rather than they are gay. That’s just my personal opinion. But I feel that now that I quite understand it, I don’t think they can understand it.” Armen says he is out to a few people, one being a relative. “My gay uncle thinks I’m mostly straight,” He confides. “Which is fine with me. I consider myself fluid, while my orientation is pretty much static. I can walk around on a daily basis and men that day might catch my eye more than women, or women might catch my eye more than men, or it could be a mixture of both and this could happen in a matter of hours to minutes. It can change like with the snap of a finger. When I go out I notice both genders naturally. My eyes are looking at both genders naturally. Whereas my gay uncle, he goes out and he strictly notices one gender. That’s it. The other gender might as well be furniture or part of the background. They don’t even register on his level.”

“I could identify as mostly straight”, Armen continues on about his sexuality in relation to gay men, “but I do notice beautiful men and that’s part of who I’ve always been. At first I thought it was a jealousy and it still kind of is, but in my mind, monosexuals  truly just do not see what is attractive about the other gender. They might be able to appreciate the time that that person took to look good, but as far as the “Oh, wow! They have great eyes!”, “Wow, what a nice smile!”, “A cute face!”, they don’t understand that. It does not register on their level.”

Armen has been to LGBTQ bars in the Midwest as well as an LGBTQ center where he once asked about local bi groups. He says, “I was asking them if there was any bisexual or fluid-type groups that were available to talk, y’know, like-minded people to talk with, and the answer was a resounding ‘No.’ Which was a little disappointing.” Most LGBTQ groups in the US never focus on the ‘B’ in the acronym, but bi groups can be found all throughout the US in many major cities and the online community is far-reaching. He does know about our vast community on the ‘net and is, in fact, an administrator for a very therapeutic bi group, so he fosters a sense of belonging in the virtual world even if he can’t fully have that in the real world.

Armen’s wife exhibits bi behavior but does not identify with the word bi. She prefers to refer to herself as a human and does not use labels. “I’m not going to fight her over it and it’s perfectly fine with me. So, we’ll point out the sexy people together.” Besides sharing different degrees of the same sexuality, Armen clues me in on the fact that he and his wife have also had encounters with multiple partners and have an open relationship. He even once considered a polyamorous relationship with a buddy of his, which started out with their wives daring them to kiss one night.

But, even though Armen embraces the online bi world and his sexuality behind closed doors, he tells me he’s only 80-90% there, in his own mind, when it comes to fully embracing that part of him: being bi. “I still have days where I box myself in, or I’ll go ‘Maybe it was a farce.’ and then I’ll get myself worked up thinking that I’m actually really gay or then I’ll go ‘Oh, man. I’m really straight.’ and you know what I mean, and I’m sure a lot of bi people have probably experienced that same kind of feeling. And it’s really easy to get caught up into that notion of thinking.”

Some bi folk also identify along the asexual spectrum, whereas the general public, it seems, often view bisexuals as rutting dogs in and out of bedroom romps. Armen tells me he doesn’t often feel arousal when he sees someone he finds appealing to him aesthetically. “I guess I’m a demisexual, in the sense that I don’t experience primal…I guess there are some people that go out in public and they see somebody that’s gorgeous and they start getting turned on right then and there. That’s not how I work. I don’t work that way. I need to sit down and talk to somebody and I need to get to know them on a personal level, on a communication basis, before I get to feel that kind of way towards them. And that doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to them. My body doesn’t work that way.” A demisexual is a term used to describe people who are attracted to someone after they’ve formed an emotional bond with them over time. “In terms of arousal I don’t get hard upon seeing somebody. I might follow certain attributes of this said person. No dirty thoughts are going through my head at that time. Like ‘Wow. That’s a great looking ass.’, like, ‘That’s hot!’, but I’m not necessarily reacting on a sexual level. I just enjoy looking at it. It’s good to look at because that’s what I like.”

Armen gets discouraged when he hears people talk about bi folk negatively and it affected how he got to where he is in embracing his bi self. He admits, “Particularly for men it’s very hard for us to stand there and be like ‘Yeah, this is who I am and here I am and I’m bi and I’m here. I’m not gay. I thought I was, maybe I thought I was straight. And there was a point where I maybe considered I was gay but I then I looked back at my past situations and realized I can’t deny my past crushes; my past experiences.’ So, obviously, they’re a part of who I am.”

“It would probably take some drinks”, Armen confesses, when I asked him what the ideal situation would be to fully come out. “Especially if I was sitting in my father’s man-cave. The only way I could see that happening is if there was a hot dude on the tv and I’m like ‘Oh, that guy’s hot!’ and my dad would turn and go, ‘What?’ I tell people as I go. I told my friend… My friends know. I don’t think they care.”

What about being bi brings you the most joy and comfort?, I asked Armen. He replied, “It’s a sense of just being who I am. This is who I am.” Armen continued on further with a passionate response on the state of the world and it’s view on sexuality. He said, “I can’t fake this and I can truly try and fit myself into either/or category but it’s just not who I am. And I think there’s something beautiful about being able to appreciate all aspects of beauty whether it’s aesthetic or whether there’s no aesthetic there and it’s simply primal instinct sexually. I think there’s something beautiful to be said about that. I think there’s something beautiful to be said about not having a closed mind point of view. I think there are a lot of monosexuals out there who maybe due to their own discomfort that they don’t want to say they don’t want to say that they might find the opposite gender, or other gender, hot. They don’t want to say that. They don’t want to think about it. They frequently use the [phrase] ‘Oh, anyone can see when someone’s beautiful.’ Well, true to an extent, but there’s one caveat: Do you notice someone when you go out in public? That was the biggest thing for me, figuring that bisexuality out: My eyes can’t lie. I guess it’s true a hard dick don’t lie either. That’s just how I look at it. So, there’s something beautiful to be said about being able to just be like the wind; just go where it blows. And I don’t have to restrict myself, and nor should I. It’s my life and I think life’s meant to be enjoyed. You can enjoy anything. I think there would be a lot more bi people out right now if they viewed it like that. To be honest, I think, and I’m not meaning to say this to discredit those who have absolutely no interest, and I know that, but I think bisexuality would probably be the world if people stopped trying to alienate themselves. I think there’s a lot of people who have the capacity to be bisexual. I really do.”

That is Armen’s story.

52% of LGBT persons surveyed are bi, according to most recent statistical analyses. Many bi people remain slightly wet. This ranges from gay and lesbian identified people who also have attractions to other genders, straight identified people who are also attracted to many genders, asexual identified people who sometimes have sexual attraction to men, women, and non-binary folk, and the average person who gives no hint of their sexuality but is generally perceived by others to be straight. This suggests numbers may be higher among the non-LGBT demographics. What can you do to encourage bi people to come out? Do you help facilitate a safe environment for bi people to feel comfortable coming out to you? Do you see the importance of people living as their true selves, to be able to talk openly about the relationships they are in regardless of gender?

In an effort to bring to the public the fears and discouragement of why many bi people choose to remain in the closet, I present to you a series of interviews with those I call “damp bi” folk. Though just as fluid in their sexuality as any openly bi person, a damp bi is someone who cannot fully embrace their fluidity in their sexuality safely or surely, and therefore are only “slightly wet”. This series hopes to instill in the reader a sense of encouragement and hope, for those in the closet, and a sense of awareness and insight to those non-bi folks who want to encourage bi people to live their lives openly and proud.

Greg Ward
Gregory Ward was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he resides today. He spends his time bringing awareness to the local scene and helping bi folk. He loves movies, astronomy, and the Irish language. He founded Fluid Arizona which is an active bi+ community that can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and is a big proponent of the #stillbisexual campaign.