Meet Iris. Iris Is In The Closet.
Meet Iris. Iris is bi. Iris is in the closet.
“I’m afraid my family will view me as immoral,” Iris responded when asked to define her fear of coming out bi in one sentence. She continued, “Not necessarily that they’ll think I’m doing something immoral, but they’ll think I am immoral, and as a Type 1 Enneagram, I absolutely hate that.” According to the Enneagram Institute’s website, the key motivations for a One are that they want “to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.” You can imagine the struggle they face from a world that rejects them and this adds almost unbearable stress to their lives when they think of how their family might misjudge their morality, as well.
I asked her what kinds of things she may have heard from family and friends that discourage her from coming out completely to them and she responded, “My parents and siblings are all very conservative. They believe homosexuality is an abomination. They look down on my aunt, who I’m guessing is bisexual. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I can talk to her about it.”
Does Iris feel that other communities have her back when it comes to her bisexuality, such as the straight community, and the gay and lesbian communities, and the asexual community? She said, “Yes, at least on the surface, though there’s still plenty of bi-erasure. Statistics only include gay and lesbian people, or people will say gay and lesbian when they really mean LGBT+.” Bi-erasure runs rampant in these communities, like a bull who has just been stung by a bee. Except the bee is us, and sometimes we can feel as insignificant as a tiny bee up against a raging bovine. But, we can also wake people up and make them aware of our presence as strongly as a bee sting and stimulate others to recognize who we are as bi folk.
What other words does Iris use to define her sexuality other that bi? Iris told me, “I usually use bisexual to keep things simple, but I feel biromantic graysexual is more accurate. I’m definitely fully bisexual as opposed to graysexual/asexual in my fantasies though.” I’ve been noticing more and more the link between the bi community and the ace community as more bi people have told me they also feel they are somewhere on the asexual spectrum. A graysexual is someone whose sexual feelings and desires falls somewhere along the middle of the spectrum between sexuality and not having a sexuality. As someone who isn’t attracted to that many people in the world, despite being attracted to many genders, I understand a bit.
When I asked Iris about when she first realized she was bi, she said, “I can’t remember when I realized it. It was more of a process. I couldn’t figure it out at first. Was I straight? Was I gay? Was I bisexual? Was I asexual? Each one of these labels seem to fit me, yet not totally. I’m STILL figuring it out! It’s bi-something even if I don’t know what the something is. Basically, the way I’m attracted to men and women is not the same, it’s different and I sometimes have trouble expressing or even understanding that difference.” I relate to this completely as my attraction to other genders is not the same across the board.
I asked Iris if she knew about the large bi presence online and the resources made available to her. Besides knowing a few other bi people online, she wasn’t aware of our community, so I gave her a list of resources. Had she ever been to an LGBT bar or pride event? She had. “Yes, I went to pride the last two years,” she said. “The first year I didn’t know anyone so it wasn’t fun. This year I actually tabled most of the day for my vegan group and the leader is a good friend and very LGBT affirming. I’ve been to a few events but have trouble connecting with anyone. I have issues with social anxiety and a romance/sexual context just makes it worse.”
I asked her if she had ever been in a same-gender relationship and she said she hadn’t, but that she is currently only interested in dating women and is trying online. Iris confessed, “Well, if I get a girlfriend and it gets serious I do plan on coming out.”
What brings Iris the most joy and comfort from her being bi? “It’s because I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds,” Iris said. “I get to love both women and men! It’s like, if monosexuality is like black and white TV, then bisexuality is like color. It’s so different. There’s no way in hell I want to be anything other than bisexual.” I agree wholeheartedly. Being bi is the best for me, too. How about you?
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.
That is Iris’ 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?