Meet Jessica. Jessica Is In The Closet.
Meet Jessica. Jessica is bi. Jessica is in the closet.
Jessica was asked to describe her fear of coming out bi in one sentence. She stated, “While I am not worried about how some family members will react, I am deeply concerned about losing the love and respect of others despite having done nothing wrong.” Our friends and family know us so deeply the whole of our lives, and to imagine someone no longer caring for you because they disagree with your innate sexuality can be emotionally crushing.
I asked Jessica about how she felt toward the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the straight community, in regards to how they view her sexuality. She responded, “This is a very complicated subject. I feel as though a few are accepting while others… well, this is where the whole concept of ‘bi erasure’ rears its ugly head. The people I have come out to have been very accepting and supportive. I have one gay friend who knows, and he has been very supportive. He has never made me feel like less because I am bi. However, I am trying online dating, and it is completely different there. I am listed as bisexual on my online dating profile. I have tried messaging people listed as lesbian, and while a handful have messaged me back, I would say a majority have said, ‘I don’t date bisexuals,’ with no explanation as to why. I don’t know if it stems from the concept of the ‘gold star lesbian’ (a lesbian who has never been with a man) and how that is the ‘best’ one can be, or if it is because of the stereotypes of bi people, but I am automatically dismissed. As for straight people, they usually ask questions like ‘How did you know?’ or ‘How long have you been bi?’ Sometimes the threesome thing comes up…ugh. That is why I prefer people who identify as pan, bi, or queer. They are less judgmental. As far as asexual, I can honestly say I have never met someone who openly identifies as asexual. I would hope that they would be accepting, though, because people tend to write off their sexuality, too, as something that doesn’t exist.”
Besides identifying as bi, Jessica also uses one other term to describe her sexuality, it is quite common in our community to use several labels. She explained, “Typically, my relationships are demisexual, meaning I have to have a strong emotional connection before I can have a sexual relationship with someone. Every once in a while, I will feel a sexual attraction and fulfill it, but that is uncommon.”
I asked her to remember back to the first time when she discovered she was bi and whether she has fully come to terms with her bisexuality. Jessica replied, “I came to realize I was bi when I found a copy of my dad’s porn movie when I was young (maybe 11 or 12), watched it to see what all the fuss over porn was all about, and found myself aroused by both the men and the women. As far as coming to terms with my sexuality, I am currently in a period when I am more attracted to women, and I think to myself, ‘Am I maybe gay?’ But then I get that familiar feeling that says, ‘Nope. Still bi.’ Since sexuality works on a spectrum, it changes for me. Sometimes it is more women. Sometimes it is more men.” Can’t we all relate to this?
It’s often difficult for people to come out bi because of things friends and family have said over the years that stick in the mind. Even though the comments were targeted toward other people, usually those family and friends don’t know that those other people are just like their very kith and kin. I asked Jessica about some of the negative things she may have heard from people in the past. She said, “For the most part, I am dissuaded from coming out to my family due to general homophobia. They make your typical statements about homosexuals: how they are ‘abominations’ or ‘sinners.’ I am not sure what level of acceptance they would grant me. My dad, however, teeters on Westboro-level statements and would probably disown me. He told me he had to block any updates I shared on Facebook from the Lizzy the Lezzy page because they grossed him out. He uses homophobic slurs that I won’t repeat. I don’t think he could handle a non-hetero child.”
Jessica contacted me, after I had finished the article and already submitted it, to tell me, “My mother had what she called ‘a nightmare’ where I ‘secretly liked women but still had a husband.’ I asked if that meant I was bisexual in her dream, and she said, ‘I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t really ‘get’ that word.’” Let’s hope the bravery Jessica exhibited by speaking up and saying the word ‘bisexual’ will cause her mother to ponder on that word and soften her feelings towards her daughter’s sexual orientation, if she ever comes out.
How familiar is Jessica to the large bi community found online? She stated, “I am just now starting to reach out on Facebook to the bi community. I joined two closed groups, but they aren’t what I expected. There isn’t much discussion, so I don’t know if they are what I am looking for in a group.”
Had she ever been to an LGBT bar, organization, or a pride event? Jessica said, “No, I have never gone to any LGBTQ+ spaces. There are three contributing factors: I have a low self-esteem since I have put on weight, I don’t want to have to explain to my folks where I am going, and really, I don’t know where people meet. It is as simple as that.”
“I don’t think there ever is an ‘ideal’ for me; I am either going to do it or not,” Jessica replied when I asked her about the perfect instance that would facilitate her fully coming out. “As much as I don’t approve, part of me says, ‘Just stay in the closet unless you are in a same sex relationship. They don’t need to know otherwise.’ It is a very strange dichotomy I feel. Yes, I want to be out; no, I don’t want to be rejected by my family. Therefore, I have become incapacitated.”
I asked if Jessica had ever been in a relationship with someone of the same gender. She revealed, “I have been in one same-gender relationship. It was while I was in college, and it didn’t end well. We lived in a very conservative community where LGBTQ+ was pretty much forbidden. This woman and I were very much in love, until the day her mom found her lesbian pornography. Then on that exact day, this person said she was ‘just experimenting’ and didn’t look at women that way anymore. She was only aroused by them. She didn’t want to date them. It was all very upsetting and confusing for me. I was heartbroken and angry and overreacted. I look back on it now and realize I acted rather immaturely and regret my actions. I also realize she was probably forced to do something she may not have wanted to do.”
Life can be frustrating, especially after a rough heartbreak, but it isn’t all dark skies and perpetual thunder. Being bi also makes one feel joy and comfort. I asked Jessica what about being bi makes her feel wonderful. She imparted, “The endless possibilities! Being bi doesn’t limit you! They say there are so many fish in the sea…well when you are bi, the ocean is that much more diverse and beautiful because you see all the creatures, not just the fish!”
That is Jessica’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?