Meet Max. Max Is In The Closet.
Meet Max. Max is bi. Max is in the closet.
I asked Max about his fear of coming out bi to the world at large. He replied that in the old days it was more about his male ego, whereas now, it’s the potential effect on his family that he’s worried about. Coming out as an LGBT person in certain areas of the world can put added stress on family members and make them the brunt of gossip surrounding their loved one who is freshly out of the closet. In some areas it is still dangerous to come out of the closet, but thankfully our world is becoming exponentially more accepting of sexualities other than straight.
I asked him if he felt the straight, gay, lesbian, and asexual communities ‘have his back,’ so to speak, when it came to his bisexuality. Max said, “I believe some may. Others may not. But, I’ve been a people-pleaser my whole life, and while still half in the closet, I think of myself as an individual.” It’s sometimes hard to gauge how others view one’s sexuality, since sometimes it’s determined on a case by case basis and not by grouping demographics together.
For himself, Max identifies as bi, but also noted that he uses the term hetero-romantic. What this means is that as a bi person his leanings toward romantic affections and relationships are often more directed towards genders other than his own, and in his case, this means females. I’ve only recently come across the terms homo-romantic and hetero-romantic. My own romantic leanings are often more towards members of my same sex and I am in a same-gender relationship, so I’ve recently started describing myself as a homo-romantic bisexual, but I’m still not sure if this is set in stone for me. The terms are relatively new to the scene, but they are great descriptors when explaining how someone can be 100% bisexual and not ‘50% gay/50% straight,’ as some people like to say.
Max said he’s known he was bi, “probably since 11 or 12, being attracted to girls, and a few guys, for some reason I wasn’t sure about, but having some erotic cravings, all along.” He continued to explain his internal battle for self-acceptance. “I have come to terms with it,” Max noted, “and probably had years ago, but in the early days, had a lot of insecurities: one group of friends or another, the AIDS crisis, male ego combined with stereotypical people that scared me off, and a hard time defining myself as an individual.” Unwilling to accept his bisexuality, Max turned to substance abuse, which is all too common in our community. But, he turned himself around and got sober. “Early in my sobriety, they used to say “men with men, women with women” when I was sober and alone. I thought, ‘Why not?’ I went to an LGBT-friendly meeting, and got scared off by one very demonstrative guy out of 300 people, showing where I was 25 years ago. I met my future wife shortly afterwards.” Although he was brave enough to openly attend an LGBT-friendly meeting, Max is still very reluctant to fully come out because, as he expressed, “My reservations today is my love for my family.”
Max is well aware of our large bi community online and participates often. He noted that he does feel a part of our community. “Although I have my differences on different issues,” Max explained. “[I] find myself keeping my opinion to myself, rather than offend or argue with someone.”
Attending LGBT bars and events have never been a problem for Max, however. “I lived with a lesbian couple when I first left home at 19,” Max confessed. “And went to a few bars back then, although I never let anyone in my head. I went to this year’s Pride (which just happens to be outside the local casino), while my wife visited the casino. It was a good experience. At 58, being a lot better person than I was 25 years ago, I’m okay with who I am.”
I asked Max if he’d ever fully come out of the closet as bi. He responded, “I really don’t know. I’m headed that way, but, as I said, it creates some discomfort. Ideally, with all the exposure, and just being my best self, it’ll just flow that direction.” Max, I hope you do. You have my support.
What makes Max feel the most joy and comfort about being bi? Max related, “Knowing and accepting who I am, and being comfortable with me, both physically, and emotionally, even if not to everyone else.” He also remarked that “It feels good opening up.” There’s a certain therapeutic feeling to be able to speak your truth, whether it’s anonymously here in an article on bi.org, or on a soapbox in a city center. I’m glad Max shared his truth and I’m glad it felt good for him to be able to open up about things inside his body and mind that ultimately bring him joy and comfort.
That is Max’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?