Meet Aruru. Aruru is in the closet.
I asked Aruru to describe her fear of coming out in one sentence. She responded, “I fear coming out to family because some of them are heavily Christian and I worry their beliefs won’t let them accept me.” Oftentimes religion can get in the way of living an open and honest life, especially when the beliefs of the people you love, and maybe your own beliefs, feel counter to that part of you: your bisexuality.
It’s not just religious people that can make you feel like they don’t have your back. Sometimes it’s the people who should be the most tolerant like our own LGBT community. I wondered if Aruru felt like the gay, lesbian, and ace communities treated her as their equal. Aruru stated,
I feel like the majority of the community does, but there are still so many misconceptions about bisexual people that plague it. Some gays and lesbians will tell you your sexuality doesn’t exist and that you just need to “choose a side.” I’ve met lesbians that once they found out I was bisexual refused to sleep with me because I had slept with men before and was “tainted.” They also don’t want you in gay spaces if you are in a heterosexual relationship.
Cisgender couples who are men and women face discrimination at LGBT events and spaces, even when one of them may be bi, or where one of them might be perceived as cisgender but are actually transgender. These spaces should be for all of us.
I wanted to know if Aruru uses any other words to describe her bisexuality.
I just use the word bisexual, but other people have told me that I’m technically pansexual because I am attracted to people regardless of gender. Male, female, trans or nonbinary….people are pretty. But bisexual means ‘attraction to 2 or more genders’ so I stick to that. I find it annoying that people try to redefine it or stick me with different labels.
Your labels are up to you and you only.
I asked Aruru about her first experience coming to the realization that she was bi. Aruru revealed,
I started to realize I was also attracted to women in 8th grade when this girl with crazy blue eyeshadow walked by and my first reaction was: damn. I didn’t know if I truly was so I called myself bicurious for a bit. I ended up putting myself back into the closet throughout high school and came out to friends after we graduated. They all knew and didn’t care. I now have come to full terms with it, I know it’s a part of me and I’m proud of it! I’d say I’m still pretty reserved though because I won’t let myself start a romantic relationship with a woman.
What kinds of things prevent Aruru from coming out fully and truly making that step to be in a long-term relationship with a woman, if that’s what she wants? Aruru said,
My grandmother has told me that if I come out as gay, that she would love me less. My grandfather is one of those who watches FOX news and talks about how LGBT (people) are snowflakes and fakers. My aunt and uncle used to take bets on if I was a lesbian, which makes me feel like a spectacle, and that my sexuality is a joke to them. My mother and father, I feel like, wouldn’t care too much, but they don’t know how to keep a secret to save their lives and would just spill it to the rest of the family. I know my mother would probably stress about my salvation because she is very Christian.
To counter the negativity coming from people we love and society around us we need to get involved with others like us; to find bi orgs that can assist us in living the best life possible. Does Aruru do this now? Is she aware that we have a large bi presence online, despite a smaller visible presence in the real world?
I am aware of the online communities, and I interact with them a fair bit on Twitter and do some of my own activism for it. My Twitter bio is literally “bisexual, dating a man and still valid.” I feel like I meet so many bisexual people. I am out to friends and they all accepted me with open arms, but my family members are all very Christian – in fact my grandmother looked me dead in the eyes and told me she would love me less if I was gay. There’s not a ton of LGBT people in my current community, so it’s nice to connect to them online.
Has Aruru been to any LGBT centers, clubs, or bars? Any parades or events? She replied,
I live near San Francisco and dream of going to Pride, but I’m scared to go. I’ve been seeing so much bisexual hate and hate against people who present straight that I feel like I won’t be welcome. I feel like if I go I need to wear a sign around my neck that says “I’m bisexual and I’m valid.”
Does Aruru ever think she will come out? I wanted to know what would be the perfect situation for coming out. She stated,
I always told myself that there’s no reason to come out to family because I don’t let myself date women. But it’s kinda a cycle because I don’t date women, so I don’t have to tell my family. If I were to come out, it would probably be after my grandparents pass away, as awful as that is.
I asked if Aruru had been in a same-gender relationship before. She confessed, “I have had sexual relationships with women, but not romantic.”
It’s scary not knowing how people will ultimately respond to your coming out, so it’s important that we not focus on what worries us and remember what about being bi brings us joy and comfort. For Aruru, it’s all about the here and now. She replied, “I’d say that being part of a community is nice, and knowing that I’m bisexual in the most accepting time in history is pretty great.”
That is Aruru’s story.
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.
52% of LGB 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?