Meet Omar. Omar is in the Closet.
Meet Omar. Omar is bi. Omar is in the closet.
“I am concerned if I come out it would have a negative effect on my children’s emotional well-being,” Omar said when I asked him to describe his fear of coming out in one sentence. He further elaborated that his children already have severe issues because of possible abuse from a family member. Omar also stated that he fears that straight women will not want to date him once they find out about his bisexuality.
I questioned Omar about whether he felt that other communities throughout the sexual/asexual spectrum recognized his bisexuality; communities such as the asexual community, the gay and lesbian communities, as well as the straight community. He replied, “From what I have read online over the last few months, as well as the countless YouTube videos I have watched, I feel there are people from each of those communities that are accepting.” It’s important to remember that we have allies throughout the world in every community who acknowledge us as bi people.
Many within our bi community refer to themselves by several labels when speaking about their sexuality. Some use pansexual. Others use polysexual. Some prefer the controversial term queer. While still some feel most comfortable going without a sexuality descriptor. There are many, many more identifiers used to describe our bisexuality, yet some just prefer bi, a term rich with history since the dawn of LGBT rights in the United States and abroad. For some, referring to oneself as bi is enough. Omar agreed. “Bi or bisexual suit me just fine,” He remarked. “I feel very comfortable with the term, and have since the first day I discovered it about myself.”
Omar has lived for several decades already on our planet, but recognizing his own bisexuality has only been a recent experience for him. He said he had been researching Attention Deficit Disorder and how many with the disorder also may have asthma, have trouble with spatial relationships, and may be ambidextrous. He learned through continued reading that 68% of people affected by ADD are also more likely to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. “I nearly dropped my phone,” he admitted. “A lightbulb lit up in my brain. It was as if someone had yelled ‘Eureka!’ Then a wave of embarrassment washed over me. How in the world could I have been bisexual my entire life and not figured it out until I was 48 years old? I can’t be that stupid, can I? I knew in my heart of hearts it was true. It was like all of the pieces of my life had just fallen into place at the same time. I began experiencing a flood of emotions, some were good and some bad, but the overall feeling I had was I was no longer conflicted and that feeling brought me peace.”
Omar also has a sense of peace when it comes to how he feels about anyone who may have a negative opinion of his sexuality. I asked him what kinds of things he hears from friends and family about bi people that discourages him from coming out to them. He responded, “In general: nothing. Those with negative opinions won’t ever be swayed by what I have to say. Their opinions are just that: ‘their own’. They are entitled to them, just as I am entitled to mine. I don’t always have to be in total agreement with my family members to love them or be loved back. If they can’t accept who I am, that is sad, but it is their loss, not mine.”
Is Omar aware of the large bi community that we have online? He said he is. “Yes, I just reached out to the online bi community for the first time a little over a month ago,” Omar revealed. “Doing so has had a very positive effect on my image of myself and I have found much love and acceptance there. I have found very few men like me who wish to be in a monogamous relationship with a woman, without also sleeping with men at the same time. It seems to me that most of the bi men like myself choose to stay closeted because it is easier that way. I can only assume they fear losing their wives.” Omar is not currently in a relationship with a woman, but that kind of relationship appeals to him most. We don’t really have statistics on that, whether or not the majority of bi men prefer to not be in a monogamous relationship with a woman or not. From my experience I can say there’s diversity in relationships and what appeals to whom all across the board. Bi people are so very different (despite our similarities in being attracted to multiple genders) that it seems inaccurate to say bi people are one way and one way only, which is what I often hear from gay men and straight folk alike.
Omar has never been to an LGBT bar. He confessed, “Bars are where people go to ‘hook up.’ I’m not interested in that.” Omar is actively seeking out bi groups in his area though, but has not found any for bi men. He feels bi folk need their safe spaces, too. He continued on about LGBT bars, “After what I have seen and read online about bi erasure and how most gay men treat bi men, I have no desire to enter a community that will treat me poorly. I have finally come to accept myself and feel good about who I am. I don’t need more drama about it now.”
Would Omar ever fully come out of the closet as bi? “I really want to!” he exclaimed. “However, as I said before, I am concerned about how it will affect my adult children and my possibilities of finding another long-term female partner.
Omar also said that although he has never been in a same-gender relationship, the urge is strong.
What about being bi brings Omar those wonderful feelings of comfort and joy? He stated, “No longer being conflicted about my feelings and struggling with them daily.” Self-recognition of oneself as bi is essential to finding peace as a bi person. If you cannot acknowledge it to yourself, how could you possibly tell another soul at some point in the future. Omar discovered this truth and the benefits of finding inner peace from self-acceptance is phenomenal, especially that day you admit to yourself that you are bi.
That is Omar’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?