Meet Faye. Faye Is In The Closet.
Meet Faye. Faye is Bi. Faye is in the closet.
“I’m afraid that I’ll be looked at differently,” Faye said when I asked her to describe her fear of coming out bi in one sentence. “Like, it’s all people would see me as. That I wouldn’t be accepted.” This is a fear for many people in our community: being out as bi, and even worse, becoming a stereotype.
How does she feel about the straight, gay, lesbian, and asexual communities having her back? “I’m not really a part of that community so I don’t know,” Faye replied. “I guess, though, when I’ve heard about all of the LGBT events, it’s not LGB… I don’t know, like…” She trailed off and I assumed she meant the B of LGBT often wasn’t included, recognized, or they were just plain invisible in LGBT events. As for the straight community specifically, Faye said, “I feel like there’s a lot of misunderstanding. It seems like people think it’s like ‘Oh, so like, sometimes you’re a lesbian and sometimes you’re straight?’ and it’s like, ‘No, it’s different.’ Y’know?”
I asked her about other terms she might use to describe her sexuality, other than bi. Faye responded, “Well, I’ve only ever talked to my husband about it and I’ve never been in a community of, like, y’know, people with, I mean, a sexuality other than heterosexual. I’ve never had a need to label myself or differentiate myself or anything like that because I just don’t talk about it ever. It’s not something I vocalize.”
“How did it go when you talked to your husband about your bisexuality?” I asked Faye. “It was really good,” she said. “We’ve been married for five years and I just told him about it a few months ago, actually. He was really accepting and understanding and he was like, ‘That makes a lot of sense.’ ‘cos we’re like, we were (I’m kind of out of the church now the last few months) both from very orthodox Mormon families. He’s like, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ because I’ve always talked a lot about the LGBTs, like the way they’re treated, and stuff like that, in the church, and how, ‘this teaching is hard for them,’ and ‘that teaching is hard for them,’ and stuff like that, and I was like yeah, I was actually kind of talking about myself, too. And he’s like, ‘Oh, ok.’ He was really accepting and understanding and everything.” Having a loved one validate your bisexuality through their love and acceptance of you is a wonderful feeling.
I then asked Faye about some of the things she might have heard from family and friends about bisexuality. She elaborated on this, “There’s so much judgment and misunderstanding about it. I hear them say things, like, they talk about other people who are bi, and they say, like, ‘Oh, that’s so easy. Just choose a man. I don’t see what the problem is.’ or something like that and it’s just so much more involved. It’s about who you fall in love with and it’s about so much more. People talk like it’s just about sexuality, it’s only about sex, but it’s not. It’s the twelve year old having their first crush. It’s the love that you have towards yourself. It’s so many different things. They talk and they say so many things that are hurtful and I don’t think they realize that they’re hurtful, because they talk like, ‘Bi is the… it’s the easiest of the sexualities compared to gay or lesbian, because when you’re bi you can choose a man and that’s it. Why are you even talking about it? Why would you even come out as bi? Just be with a man and don’t talk about it and like, you’ll be fine or whatever.'”
The perception is that bi people don’t exist, even in a situation like this, all the while being acknowledged as bi, because if you’re with a man, it’s okay, because to them you are straight for now. But, even if a woman is with a man, her sexuality doesn’t change because of who she is in a relationship with. She is still bi. Faye also noted, “People also talk about bi like it’s like the hyper-sexualized version of a person, and I’m like, ‘That’s bad.’ They just want everybody all the time or something like that, and it’s like, ‘No.’”
Faye said she wasn’t aware of the large community of bi folk online. She has never attended a Pride event, or gone to an LGBT bar. She’s heard of events that bi organizations put together but her reluctance to go to one of these events was something that had never occurred to me. It was shocking to me. And it made a light bulb appear over my head as if I should have known this all along. She revealed, “Fear. Fear would be the main reason. I’m afraid that it’s just a hook-up scene and where I’m in a monogamous relationship and like, what’s the benefit of meeting, interacting with other people that are… bi? I guess… I guess I… I worry that I would go and it would be like just a sexual thing where people are just trying to hookup, or they’re just trying to date, like they’re just trying to meet somebody to… I don’t know how their relationship would work. Which seems silly now that I say say it, but that was kind of my reasoning is like, ‘Oh that’s just like a sexual thing.’ and like, y’know, my Mormon upbringing. I’m not supposed to be sexual. I better stay away from that. Or like, that’s not okay. And then I think I was afraid, too. There’s still a part of me that’s like, ‘Oh. It’s sooooo wrong.’ ’cause I’ve been taught and conditioned and indoctrinated with this idea that it’s so wrong to have sexual contact or anything with the same sex. But I’m like, ‘What if I went and then was tempted to do something like that?’ like in my single days, and I was tempted to do that or whatever and then I did that and then that would be like the most horrible sin, and so I couldn’t do that.”
I’d never heard this before. “Does this come from the saying ‘bisexual orgy’?” I wondered, where people believe not only do bi people only have orgies, but that to go to an orgy, one must be bi? Which obviously is so far from the truth. But this answer was refreshing and it made me reexamine my thoughts on closeted bi people’s opinions on bi-specific events.
She continued, “The last few months, I’m pretty much out of the church. I dress quote/unquote ‘immodestly.’ I drink green tea. I do other things like that, but for some reason there’s something about the teaching of sexuality and how shamed it is. It’s just so deep where it’s like, ‘Could that ever really be okay?’ and if I ever did have an experience like that how much guilt would I feel afterwards? Would it be worth it? Would that be something I could even work through or would I just feel so worthless and so awful about myself, for being myself and acting on my true feelings? Like it’s, it’s screwed up.” These are the problems of being a bi woman in northern Utah, and other deeply religious areas of the world where their teachings condemn their followers who feel any sexual and romantic love for people of their same gender.
Would Faye ever come out completely? She answered, “I talk a lot with people about like… I’m just in such a conservative… my world is just so conservative, everybody that I talk to, everybody in my family, everybody in my neighborhood is so conservative, even the slightest bit of LGBT advocating or things like that is met with such intense push back, that I’m like, ‘If this is how they’re talking about it…’ They don’t know that they’re talking about me when they’re talking about it and maybe they would be different if they did, but the fact that that’s their opinions, and that’s their beliefs, and they have such a harsh push back, and they say all these things and stuff like that, if that changed, I think that’s when I would come out. If when I was having a conversation and people were starting to be kinder about it, more accepting, if they started to use different words that were nicer and more accepting than I might be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I am.’ but right now because of the conversation that’s happening around me, I don’t feel safe to come out, because the way they talk about it.”
And that is key and crucial. It’s important for our community to feel safe, to be able to live our lives openly, to be able to talk openly about how we feel towards someone of our same gender. It matters. It matters deeply to Faye. Faye would love to come out, but in such a staunchly conservative area, it feels impossible for her. But it isn’t always dreary and gloom for Faye in her world.
Faye told me about what brings her the most joy and comfort when it comes to being bi. She stated, “For me being bi is about loving the person, being attracted to the person, to the personality, and then the anatomy is more of a secondary factor where I’m just like, ‘Love is love.’ Y’know? I love this about this person. I’m attracted to this about that person. And then it’s like those things are what make them physically attractive to me. Like physically attractive to me. You know what I mean? I feel joy in that because I feel like that says something good about me that I do focus so much on love and on the personality and being attracted to the actual person and not just… I don’t know. Like, connecting with another human. It kind of allows for a different way of seeing people. Something, y’know, growing up I kind of just liked people too, but then it was almost like, I think maybe because I was attracted to everybody, to anybody, like it’s not just men or women. It’s like man, woman, tr… y’know like, all of the different genders. Y’know, I… just being attracted to everybody, it was like, almost like I could see people in a different way. Where different things were really attractive… to me… in different people and stuff like that. I don’t know if that’s just me as a person or if that’s part of being bi, that it was like, I felt like I could be into people differently than all the people that I know.”
That, Faye, is the beauty of the bi experience.
That is Faye’s story.
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?
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.