Meet Radha. Radha is in the Closet.
Meet Radha. Radha is bi. Radha is in the closet.
When asked to describe her fear of coming out bi in one sentence, Radha answered, “My fear of coming out of my shell was a mix of emotions, scared, vulnerable, and shaken up to the point I didn’t know what to think of… I don’t want to hide no more. I want to be more open and honest with myself and with whomever my heart desires and belongs with, either man or woman.” Radha explained that her fear also stems from her upbringing and the community of faith she was raised in. She said, “My other fear is the [religious] community I have grown up in will not accept me for coming out as a bisexual woman wanting to seek another woman at some point in my life. I feel like I would get banished because of it. I am still afraid to come out of the closet.” When you’re already feeling invisible as a bi person, your worst fear is to disappear even further.
Does Radha feel that other communities close to ours accept her bisexuality, such as the gay and lesbian communities, the ace community, and even the straight community? She responded, “I really don’t know for sure since I just came out this year. And finally decided to seek out help from a private closed group of a bisexual community! So far to my dismay I have accepted them as friends and to count on for support and advice. This is a whole new experience for me coming out of the closet I feel that my straight friends and a few of my friends who happen to be gay and lesbian have accepted me for me. Even some of my church friends. We are all human and should accept everyone you meet, whether they are gay, lesbian, transgender, asexual or any other sexuality we may be. I see a greater picture, than being afraid of them. They are people just as much as we are. Acceptance is key.”
Some people under the bi+ umbrella prefer different terms to describe their sexuality; to better clarify who exactly they are attracted to and who they are as a sexual being. Labels such as omnisexual, polysexual, multisexual, prosexual, humasexual, and pansexual have come about in the last twenty five years, and the definitions have expanded and changed over that quarter of a decade, some now remarkably unrecognizable from their originally intended meanings. Some people use several terms. I use bi, fluid, and queer, for instance. I wanted to know whether Radha also identified with other labels, other than bi. She said, “To be straight forward I would say I am only bisexual. I don’t see myself as any other word to describe me. At one point I did feel like I could have been a lesbian in my life only because I had a crush on a lovely lady that I happened to work with. She had so much brightness and she was a comedian. Made me laugh like I have never laughed before. I actually tried to ask her out at one point but it didn’t go as I hoped. Oh, well. At that moment of clarity I knew I was attracted to women. What draws me is their personality traits that no man could have. I was single at the time, back in 2014.”
I asked Radha about her first experience when she initially realized that she was bi. She answered, “My first time actually coming out, I was a nervous wreck. I was out with my best friend and some other friends from high school at ‘the Rock’ cafe. Padma is her name, and happened to be sitting across from me as she sat next to another woman. They were all getting drunk. Thank goodness for me I didn’t drink at that time in my life. I always thought it was foolish. Anyway, after awhile of her getting drunk that someone dared her to kiss the woman next to her. As I sat and watched that happen I felt raw and yet I felt like I wanted to get into it as well. I refrained and then excused myself from the table to go to the ladies room, just clean myself up from the arousing pleasure. I knew right then and there that I was bisexual and, of course, told my best friend Padma the truth. This was back in 2010 or 2011. I also fell from a relationship that was rocky and he told me to go explore. I didn’t know what to think… I started to not be myself. I then had bi-curious goggles on as I went to explore. I found a couple looking for a little fun. I was nervous being my first time with a woman and a man I just met. Maybe after a social drink and got to know each other. The husband asked me, ‘Have you ever kissed a woman before’ I said, ‘No.’ We all warmed up to each other, as I leaned into the woman slowly and sure enough our lips touched. It felt so good, I continued to kiss her luscious lips with satisfaction.” This experience and others throughout the years have helped Radha better understand who she is as a person and her own personal sexuality. She stated, “I have fully come to terms with my bisexuality. My reservations were apprehensive at the time. Now I am committing that I do enjoy women just as I do with men.”
Sometimes we hear things from friends and family that discourage us from coming out to our loved ones. I asked Radha whether she had experienced this, and although she did not get particular, she had this to say, “I didn’t know what to think of how my mind has changed over the years. Of course I felt discouraged from coming out to them. I finally decided to come out to my friends about my sexuality this year 2017. They have come to the terms and accept that I am bisexual. My family on the other hand does not know except for my cousin Medha. Once I knew, I told her. The rest of my family does not know. I am scared of what they might say to me.”
Radha is well aware of our large online bi community and has met someone because of it. She told me, “I am now fully aware of the large community of bi folks online, around the area, and all over the world. I am proud to be participating in a closed group on Facebook. The people in this closed group make me feel welcome and accepted. I have moments as I try to find the right community to come out of the closet too. I now have a boyfriend. After a few dates, I wanted to be open and honest with him. I mentioned something about bisexuality. I didn’t see him flinch during the conversation. In fact, it was like our third date when I came out and told him right then and there. Funny how understanding he was and fully accepted me for being bisexual. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Has Radha been to any local LGBT functions or queer-run establishments? Radha said, “I have not been to an LGBT bar, organization, or pride event. I began to know a little later than I thought. I began to look around and realized I was too late to go to the pride parade in my state. I do plan on going next year and fully coming out to the public and recognizing my life as who I am now, not who I was back then. I have wanted to seek out help and support awhile ago. I gave myself time to really contemplate on how I wanted to seek the help I needed. My strength came later to this year 2017 to reach out and see what this world is.” It’s vital you find community where you can, whether it be in your area or online. Seek out bi communities and participate in them for your own personal emotional well-being.
What would be the ideal instance that would facilitate Radha’s coming out to the world? She explained, “[This past year], I have really come out of my shell. April 28th, 2017 was the actual date is when I decided to come out to the world and my friends. I haven’t told any of my family members except one whom is supportive and is the only one in my family that knows. Why you may ask, I have been in a sheltered [religious] background my whole life. I began to see something other than just what I knew. I didn’t start exploring till my early 20’s to seek the truth about myself. I plan on getting a tattoo I have designed onto my body. My parents do not know because they have been raised in [their religion] and don’t take these things too lightly. Growing up [religious] doesn’t hurt me. What will hurt is when I finally come out to my family and parents. When that time comes to wanting to tell them about my sexuality, I do feel like I will be shunned from the family. All seems scary to me and the thought of it. I don’t want to be like this. Whether you’re Christian, or any other religion they should accept you. I know famous singer from the N*Sync band, Lance Bass, came out to the world. I had the biggest crush on him. When I heard him come out as gay, I was disappointed. That took me a year to wrap my head around his sexuality. I then came to terms of Lance Bass’ sexuality as gay and others around me. This world just gets more interesting even more.”
Has Radha ever been in a same-gender relationship? She explained, “I have never been in a same-gender relationship, only because I have been drawn to men more than women. I came out to my boyfriend after a few dates. I have asked my boyfriend if it will be okay to try to seek out to try to have a same-gender relationship. His response took me for a loop. He told me he had been in the same situation with his previous girlfriend. I don’t want to have to do that to him.” For some people polyamory and open relationships work, but it’s not that way for many bi people. There are many in every community who just want your standard monogamous relationship. And that’s okay.
Lastly, I wanted to know what about being bi brings Radha the most joy and comfort in her life. She revealed, “I feel joy and comfort knowing I am not alone in this world. I felt the need to find an enclosed group on Facebook to reach out to other people that are accepting and having support behind me, along the side of my boyfriend’s help and support as well. And accepting others the way they are, too. Everyone is unique and different and I don’t want to judge anyone no more.” That’s a great way to live, Radha.
That is Radha’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?