Meet Lulu. Lulu Is In The Closet.
Meet Lulu. Lulu is bi. Lulu is in the closet.
“Losing my family. My friends. Church,” was how Lulu described her fear of coming out bi. She continued to elaborate, “Growing up in Texas, church is your whole life. I do feel like it’s a very big part of me. I go to a really small church. There’s like 12 adults and I’m one of the youngest four. I’m the second youngest person, minus all of our kids. I guess, with all of these people I’ve grown up with as almost parents, as aunts and uncles, I feel like… I just like… even ‘straight’ issues, I don’t feel comfortable talking about things like that. That’s not the kind of environment I grew up in, so it’s always been a source of frustration for me because, I started having dreams about girls when I was in fifth or sixth grade, so being confused my whole life and not really having an outlet to talk about that. There’s just a lot of fear, I guess.”
Lulu’s situation is not unique to members of our community who have spent their entire lives immersed in faiths that don’t always shine a bright light on bisexuality. Lulu said, “Watching and hearing people spew all of their hatred about everything. I mean, it doesn’t matter what it is. It could be race. It could be religion, politics, whatever. It’s all just ‘Agree with me’. Nobody listens.”
I asked Lulu about the various communities surrounding the bi community, such as the straight, gay, lesbian, and ace communities, and about whether or not they fully accept her sexuality as bi. “I don’t know. I don’t know what to think,” she replied.
Lulu described some of the things she’s heard people say about bisexuality, however. She remarked, “Well, boys just think that—I don’t mean ‘boys’, like, ‘young people’—I just mean, like, ‘men’ just think that it’s like ‘Oh, yeah, you like girls, too? Let’s have a threesome!’, like, that’s the guts of what people understand, it feels like.”
Lulu isn’t completely alone in her sexuality in this world. Besides finding online organizations to participate with, she told me, “I have one friend who is bisexual. She’s the only person I can talk to. She’s encouraged me, or whatever. Part of it, I think, is, like, where we live because it’s so judgmental. Like, everybody. There’s no acceptance for almost anything. It doesn’t matter what it is; what the issue is. ‘You want to co-parent with your ex-husband? Okay. You’re weird.’ It’s a tough situation. We’re kind of each others support system, but that’s… that’s really my only outlet.”
Lulu uses the word bisexual to describe her sexuality, and I asked her if she uses any other terms besides bi to describe herself. “I’m adventurous, I guess.” She laughed. “I have been slutty.”
Lulu was asked about her reservations towards fully coming out and about accepting herself as a bi woman. She stated, “I don’t think I’ve fully come to terms with it. I finally kind of admitted to myself a few years ago, and I was already married, so there wasn’t really an outlet for that. I just kind of pushed it aside as a teenager, or young adult, and tried not to dwell on that, plus, I mean, I like boys, too, so it’s easy to be distracted. But, being in a marriage, I mean, I’ve been married almost ten years and I have two kids, so it’s not like I really have a way to explore that at this point. And my husband does know how I feel. And I don’t think he necessarily invalidates it. He doesn’t really have much to say at all. He’s kind of a quiet person about everything though.”
Lulu went on to describe her first experience trying to be with a woman. “The (bi) friend that I do have, the one that I was talking about earlier, she told me that I should go on Bumble and try to find, like, somebody just to, kind of, start a relationship with. So, I did. And I met this girl and we talked for a few weeks, or whatever, but it just didn’t work out and it kind of scared me to try that again.” I completely understood this, and her continuing explanation on why it was hard for her further validated, to me, why it’s sometimes difficult for bi people to find people of the same gender to connect with. Lulu explained, “It’s discouraging. ‘Cos, I feel like, I know how to flirt with a guy. I know how to put myself out there. I know what they like. Like, it’s just… I feel so stupid when it comes to girls. I have no idea how to be, except for just be myself, which… I don’t know. It’s not like I’ve chased a whole bunch of girls. I have no idea how to even try.”
I relate to this so much. I have no idea how to flirt with guys. Being a guy myself, I feel I know how guys work sexually. So, I have that part down pat, but to attract a guy to get to that point, yeah, I’m clueless. Lulu explained even further our shared dilemma, “Well, girls are so mental, and I don’t know how to turn a woman on mentally; I don’t know how to get in there. With a dude, I mean, it’s just easy. For me, it is. I don’t know, maybe I’ve just honed that skill. When it comes to girls, I’m just… I feel lost.”
Lulu says she has been to an LGBT bar before, but has never been to a pride event. She participates with several groups online, but doesn’t often have much to say, and doesn’t understand why. She feels like she belongs in those groups but sometimes feels like a fraud because she’s never had any sexual experiences with women; only with men. “Can I really call myself bisexual?” Lulu asked. “Like, that’s something I struggle with sometimes.”
Yes. Yes, you can. It’s not about experience. It’s about how you feel inside. It’s about who you’re attracted to. You can be a woman, married to a man, and never have an experience with another woman for your whole existence, but because you have romantic and/or sexual feelings toward people of your same gender, as well as other genders, you are definitely bi. You can call yourself bi without ever having had sex. Straight, gay, and lesbian folks know their sexuality long before they have experienced sex. Asexual people know they are ace, and the majority of them will never have sex. Bi people should be no different, right? Bi people should know their sexuality long before they have sex (but that’s not the requirement). So, yes. Yes, you can call yourself bisexual, Lulu.
Lulu clarified why she feels this way, “I guess part of it is, like, you know the culture today is just, like, ‘cultural appropriation’ and things like that. You don’t take on somebody else’s pain, somebody else’s experience, when it didn’t happen to you. It’s like slavery and stuff like that, y’know? You don’t really have a lot to speak on something you didn’t experience. That’s kind of the way I feel like and I don’t want to demean the struggle that other people go through when I haven’t had to bear that burden. I haven’t had to explain myself a million times. I haven’t had to bear that hate or anything like that so I guess that’s kind of what makes you feel invalidated like, you don’t really have a right to speak on something like that because you haven’t been through it. That’s today’s culture. We’ve been through life with a lot of different issues, so it just doesn’t… and sexuality is just so private for a lot of people, like… it’s not like I can just speak up about slavery or about racism or about politics or something like that and be able to be unabashed about my views. Here we are, we’re talking about sexuality, that’s… that’s something super-personal that people can’t really even articulate themselves because it’s kind of taboo to even think about.”
But, she is included. As are all the bi people reading this. I responded, “I didn’t grow up out of the closet. I didn’t have people calling me all the bad words that they call boys that they think are gay. I didn’t have that experience so I come at it from a different angle. We were still fighting for marriage equality in the US a few years back. There’s still things that affect us, though we didn’t have to go through the whole Stonewall Riot, and start Pride, and things like that, as bi people did back then. We don’t have to go through that as people living in 2017. There’s still discrimination against you personally because you are bi. Everybody’s experience is different though. You definitely are included.”
Lulu said that if she ever split up with her husband that that would be the ideal instance for coming out. “I don’t think I would ever marry again,” she replied. “It would take someone super-special for me to get into a commitment like that again, but I don’t know, I feel like there’s this whole other side to me that I feel I’ve squashed my whole life.”
Sometimes it takes a marriage to realize who you are and who you aren’t. Lulu commented about this, “[My husband] is pretty open about [sexuality]. We can talk about things like that, but just personality-wise he’s kind of, uh… narcissistic. He’s a good person and he’s an excellent father. When it comes to me, I feel like he just kind of squashes who I am, because I’m kind of silly, I’m kind of sassy. I’m a Southern girl, y’know? So, there’s lots of personality there that I just… it’s either not appreciated, or made fun of, or something like that, so… I have this whole side of me and I’m learning to be myself no matter what and I’m learning to… I guess… I grew up thinking that if you’re willing to be happy and you wanted to have, like, a family and all those things, like, you needed to be perfect. Everything needs to look beautiful and that’s just not true. And, I guess about five years into my marriage I started to realize, like, I’m not who I want to be as a person. I don’t feel like me at all and I started an extra-marital relationship with another man who was very, very uplifting. Somebody who validated my feelings; told me that I was, um… like, when I would talk about anything, it didn’t matter what it was, he didn’t make me feel stupid. He didn’t make me feel ugly. He didn’t make me feel like I was less of a person or like my feelings were stupid, whether it be about anything. Like, I could have a valid opinion, and we could agree to disagree. So, that person’s been in my life for five years, off and on. It’s off right now. Like, he’s in a real serious relationship. And that’s cool. But that was the beginning of my self-realization. It kind of allowed me to think about myself; to put myself first in any kind of way, I guess.”
Tears start to well up in Lulu’s eyes. “Sorry I’m crying,” she revealed. “It’s an emotional thing. He’s a good person. We’re never going to be, like, in a relationship. I don’t want that with him. I know him too well. There’s something called ‘twin flames’ and that is that dude. It’s something like when you have so much in common but it’s just not going to work on a long-term basis, and when you’re with this person, they make you grow as a person, and when you’re apart, even if you’ve just been together, it causes you to be very self-reflective. He’s always been there for me. So, like, I go into these deep, long periods of self-reflection and self-growth and things like that and then we’re good. Everybody in my life knows about him they just don’t know that it was ever sexual.”
But her relationship with this man helped her realize more about herself than she expected. Lulu went on, “When I first started talking to that [bi] girl, like, he told me that my attraction was sexual only and I that I wouldn’t ever want to have a relationship with a girl. That’s not who I am. And that kind of changed my feelings about him because I feel like, ‘How can you know me as well as you do and not understand this part of me?’” It seems that Lulu has fully come to terms with her bisexuality.
So, what about being bi makes Lulu feel the most joy and comfort? “I guess my [bi] friend. Being fully accepted for who I am. Not being judged in any way. She was there for me no matter what. She makes me feel like me as a whole person is good enough.”
That is Lulu’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?