Meet Jazz

Photo by Alfred Aloushy on Unsplash

Meet Jazz. Jazz is in the closet.

We come in all shapes and sizes. All ages. We are men, women, and nary. We’re found in every culture across this planet. And, sadly, we’re mostly terrified to tell our loved ones that we’re bi. It’s a coming out that hasn’t been encouraged until recent times. There are stigmas towards bis that other queer identities just don’t face. They have their own stigmas to face and countless opportunities to teach the world how wrong it is to adhere to propagating them.

But being bi has never been popular in a heroic-statue-on-a-pedestal sort of way to the majority of people. This organization, bi.org, and these articles, are meant to change that. There needs to be a greater normalizing of the bi human. As people read about the ones in the closet and why they stay in, maybe, just maybe, it will spark an idea  of how to better present to bi people that it’s safe, totally okay, and ideal to come out.

Jazz has his own fears. However, he said, “I don’t fear coming out. My sexuality is a small aspect of who I am, so I don’t dwell in it.” Quite a surprising acknowledgement for someone in the closet, but he further elaborated on his fears, “If it does come up in conversation, I have no problem talking about it. However, I do admit that I am reticent to show, in public, any expression of sexuality, towards a woman or a man.”

As a community of bi people, we should support and lift up each other. The same should be said about other queer folk: gay, lesbian, ace, etc. There has been a surge of support from the straight community in recent decades This brings a smile to my face, as we live in such a heteronormative world where so much of the media – movies, television, novels, self-help, dating sites, etc – focuses on heterosexual relationships. It can often seem to bi people that we are bypassed by society. I asked Jazz whether he felt that other queer communities had his back about his bisexuality. Jazz replied, “No, I don’t, especially the gay community. At best, they see bisexuality as non-existent.”

Being out-and-about, openly bi means putting a name to a face. It means you acknowledge exactly who you are and what makes you bi. It means tacking a label to yourself, whether it’s no label or a vast array of labels our community uses to describe their bisexuality. I wondered if Jazz used any other label to describe himself other than bi. He simply related, “Bi is good.”

From our own points of view, as we grow up, we start to realize that we are far different than our straight and other queer peers. We aren’t only drawn to one gender. Jazz was no different. He explained when he first started realizing he was bi,

I had had interest in women, but I dismissed it as being socialized. But when I saw a woman perform a very sexy dance and I got an erection, I had proof I was bisexual. Never looked back since then. However, I have experienced discrimination. One recent time: at the hospital I was asked my orientation and tagged as high risk behavior, even though I don’t engage in high risk behavior, and I only had 1 sexual encounter in over 5 years.

There’s the stigma that bi people are rampant sexual deviants, spreading disease everywhere we go, which is so far from the truth and, in fact, many bi people are single and not as sexual as one would think, or even sexually active at all. Truth be told, I went eleven years without sex from the age of 25 to 36. I have come across many bi people who have had similar experiences, but we are also sexually active and some bis engage polyamorously with partners, which is great, but there’s no substantial evidence, nor has there ever been, to support the idea that a bi person should always be considered high risk, like a glorious bath house sling jockey (which I’m not saying is a bad thing, but is definitely high risk if you’re not using protection).

Sometimes bi people are out to a few people they feel they can trust but still remain in the closet at large. Things we hear from family and friends throughout our youth can prevent us from trusting those people enough to want to come out to them. I asked Jazz if he’d heard negative things said about bi people over the years. He stated, “Nothing, really, and when I’ve come out explicitly to family members, they were mostly supportive. My mother thinks I’m confused.”

The list of resources for bi people in and out of the closet found on the ‘net is great but it could be greater. Does Jazz know about such resources and does he find the support he needs? He said,

I am aware there are lots of resources, but I only belong to two groups, one of which is local and meets in person. It is interesting to see the different perspectives, and it is nice to have some shared experiences, but as I mentioned, my bisexuality is a small part for me, so I don’t have the need to belong. The groups I do belong to are very inclusive.

Besides local support groups and organizations providing resources for bi people, there are other ways that allow us to bond tightly with our own bisexuality, and that is through celebrating it. LGBT bars, Pride events, and Pride parades help us do just that. Usually found in larger metropolitan areas, these ‘celebratory resources’ can also be found in the most unsuspecting places, so I wondered if Jazz had attended such sexuality affirming joints, festivities, or soirées.

I have been to pride and a few bi events in my community. Generally, I don’t seek any LGBT* support because I don’t feel I need it, my sexuality being a small part of my identity. I do have a few LGBT friends, but we don’t get together very often.

As I said before, the bi people I interview are at different stages of coming out but all are in the closet for these specific articles. Just how out is Jazz? He noted,

I have come out in some instances, and even without even knowing. I’ve brought both a man and a woman (at different times) to family events. And when I am dating a man, I hold hands with him in public. But it is not important to me to ensure everyone knows my sexuality.

Jazz stated he had brought men home before (as one of my questions is usually asking if people have been in a same-gender relationship despite being in the closet) and he reiterates this, “I’ve been both in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships; in a couple of cases, at the same time.” Polyamory is just as common among bi people as it is among our straight and gay/lesbian counterparts.

My last question is meant to cause some self-reflection and take one away from the years of self-hate and doubt that society can often inflict upon us as bi people. It’s a question meant to make one think of the happiness that comes from just being bi. I asked what about being bi brings Jazz the most joy and comfort. “I wouldn’t say being bi makes me comfortable,” he pondered, “(or uncomfortable, for that matter), but one thing that I do like about being bi is that it is something unique.”

That is Jazz’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?

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.