Meet Queenie

8/26/2018

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Meet Queenie. Queenie is in the closet.

Our community is large and we shelter many folks under our welcoming bi umbrella. Our bi community is quite a large bunch; we use all kinds of identity labels to talk about our multi-gender loving ability. Our sexuality, bi, is a little more than half of the chunk of the whole LGB crowd, at least from US statistics. But, we’re too frequently closeted. We fear being openly queer. I asked Queenie to describe, in a single sentence, why she doesn’t come out. She replied, “I am afraid of losing my relationship with my parents, with whom I am very close, if I tell them the truth.”

Family is our foundation. Whether we get along with them or not, there’s still a level of respect politics that follows us throughout our lives, concerning our place within our families. But, we have other families: our friends, associates online, work groups, sports leagues, etc. These communities are where we find the love that we don’t often find in an unfriendly family scenario. So, they should have our backs, right? Even our LGBT family. I asked Queenie if she felt that the straight, gay, lesbian, and asexual communities accepted her bisexuality. Queenie stated,

“It’s hard for me to say. When I was coming to terms with being bi, I only had online resources, which were definitely a mixed bag. It was hard for me to find any information specifically concerning bi+ identities, much less supportive ones. In real life I’m pretty limited too, because I’m either not out to someone or I’ve been very careful to make sure they’d be supportive and discreet before I came out to them. Online, I’m careful to surround myself with people who will accept me. I’m positive there are individuals within the straight, gay, and lesbian communities who don’t accept bi+ people, just as there are individuals who do. I can’t speak to the ace community at all, because I don’t have as many connections there. I personally feel a bit of a kinship with ace-spec folks, because I feel that they’re in the similar position of not being widely validated by the gay and lesbian communities, but I don’t know if that’s reciprocated. I hope it is.”

Queenie noted that, specifically within our bi presence online, it’s full of advocacy, even as so many remain in anonymity.

“I will say that I’ve felt more supported as a bi person than as a closeted person. I feel like there are a lot of voices out there—or at least a few very loud ones—that insist that queer people have a duty to come out and be activists, etc. And even out people who don’t believe this and take a more compassionate approach—it’s hard to connect with someone who’s actively hiding the source of your connection from most of the people in their life.”

Ambi. Bi. Pan. Ply. Omni. Open. Fluid. Flexi. N/M Queer. We have an assortment of labels that people within our community use to describe their bisexuality. I wanted to know what other labels Queenie might use besides bi. She confessed, “I usually stick with bi (I prefer ‘bi’ to ‘bisexual,’ personally; the latter feels too clinical and unwieldy), but I’ve also been known to call myself ‘queer’ or (rarely) ‘sapphic.’”

Queenie explained her first experience when realizing that she was attracted to more than one gender. She also talked about her reservations about being out.

“When I was fifteen, I developed feelings for a friend of mine, also a girl, which sparked a year-long crisis that I navigated with bad Buzzfeed quizzes and unhelpful blog posts. At sixteen, I got tired of freaking out and accepted that I was bi, although I knew then that I couldn’t come out to my family, without serious repercussions. For this reason, I didn’t have much chance to really explore or express what that meant until I started college last year. Although I’m still very closeted, I am comfortable in myself and fully accepting of this aspect of my identity. In my own head, I’m very laid back about it, but my situation means I have to actively hide it, which makes me a little less laid back than I’d like to be.”

Many of us grow up hearing so many people dismiss and insult bi people that coming out starts to feel impossible. Queenie shared some of these prejudiced opinions from her family. She stated,

“My parents are in the ‘just don’t shove it in my face’ camp of queermisia, and they have grown steadily more offended as the LGBT+ community has grown more and more visible. They have told me that queerness is unnatural and hedonistic and they often dismiss it as being just about sex. Although they disapprove of gay/lesbian identities generally, they have also told me that ‘I can respect gay people or straight people, but bisexual people are just horny’ and that ‘everyone’s bisexual these days.’ Concerning queer visibility, they have complained about exposing children to ‘these malfunctions’ and, when I protested this, told me that I would ‘understand when [I] have a gay kid.’”

To counter this bimisia, we need to gravitate toward others like us; others that experience sexuality in the same way, or similar to us. The easiest way is to find online resources, complete with bi people. I wondered if Queenie was aware of the large bi presence on the web. She revealed, “I started participating in the bi and LGBT+ Twitter communities earlier this year, and it’s been amazing. It’s definitely become my safe space. I feel very accepted and supported, and everyone is just so nice and so willing to offer me advice and resources and support. It’s been very inspiring to me.”

Has Queenie ever been to an LGBT Center or a local Pride event or parade? An LGBT bar or club?

“I’m out to about eight people in real life, and two of them are queer. I have never been to any sort of LGBT event, though, because it feels very vulnerable and exposed. The idea of it made me really anxious for a long time. When you make hiding a habit so consistently, it becomes very hard to be comfortable in a place where you don’t need to hide. It becomes a way of life, and it makes honesty and authenticity very scary. That said, I am hoping to interact with the queer community at my college a little more next year. I think I’m starting to be ready for that.”

Queenie told me that she’s never been in a same-gender relationship. But being bi isn’t just about being in a queer coupling. Being bi is however you make it best for you. But it’s always best to be safe first. Would Queenie ever fully come out of the closet? She confessed, “I genuinely don’t know if I’ll ever be out to my parents, and that makes it hard to be out anywhere else. I hope I can be eventually, but I need a lot more independence than I currently have and, ideally, a slightly larger support system in case things do fall through with them. That said, I am considering trying to be publicly out at school next year.”

Queenie has truly come to terms with her bisexuality, even if she still has both feet firmly planted behind that closet door frame. Within the darkness of the closet there’s always a light that comes from within our minds. A light reminding us of the beauty in being bi. I asked Queenie what about her bisexuality brings her the most joy and comfort. She replied, “I have an amazing online community of people both in and out of the closet, and so many positive role models. I think being bi gives me the ability to more fully appreciate the beauty of humanity on a whole, and I think that’s quite a gift.”

Indeed, it is quite a gift.

That is Queenie’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, 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 with pride.

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.