Meet Stan. Stan Is In The Closet.
Meet Stan. Stan is bi. Stan is in the closet.
“Fear about confusion.” That’s how Stan answered the question when I asked him to describe his fear about coming out bi in one sentence. You see, Stan has come out of the closet before. In his earlier years Stan came out as gay. People know him as gay and to come out bi now would bring about a lot of uncomfortable personal questions and, sadly, anger from the community he has known and loved for decades.
According to Stan, “I think the straight community accepts it, but I’m not sure the gay community accepts it. Straight men accept it because to them you’re with a… there’s a chance that you’ll be with a woman. And not necessarily lusting after them. And with women, it’s kind of like, oh, y’know, you can be sensitive and you can be… you’re gonna look like a gay man. When it comes to gay men, gay men are, like in the gay community, they don’t accept it, ‘cos they view it as a temporary status. If you say you’re bi you’re more likely just gay (to them) and you never encounter that with straight people.”
Besides calling himself bi, Stan also refers to himself as fluid, saying it’s a more friendly way of describing his sexuality, as well as a less threatening label to the other sexual communities, referring to the stigmas given from them that we’re all familiar with when it comes to being bi. “It’s just, like, you’re not one way or the other,” He explained.
Stan’s bi identity is not new, it happened fifteen years ago, shortly after he came out gay five years prior. “When I realized that I’m bi, I was first confused and ashamed because I came out as gay, I came out first as gay, flat out, and then coming to terms with that I like women too, I’m attracted to women, I’m very specific about women though but I’m attracted to women. I was just so confused and I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know why. And then I was just afraid because, y’know, I have gay friends and they’re gonna be like, ‘Well, what the deuce? What the fuck?’”
Stan admitted he had come out to a few people. “I want to say a handful of people, between five and ten, I can’t really think of how many know that I’m bi.” He said, “When I came out to straight friends a lot of them were like, ‘I already knew that.’ Because I made comments. And the very few gay friends of mine were accepting of it. ‘Yeah, that makes sense and I’m not going to judge you.’ And then the one was very harsh, very very harsh. He said how dare I betray the community. How dare I betray the gay identity and I’m the reason that the gay community is falling apart. It was so vicious. I was taken aback by it.” Verbal attacks from gay men to bi men is more common than one would think, and can be very confusing and hurtful to a bi man. “Even still today my attraction to men is stronger than it is to women,” he noted, “but I think I suppressed it and then I saw this actress on tv one day and I was just attracted to her and I thought ‘Well, probably a fluke’ and then I saw a woman one day at an orientation and I was just attracted to her. And over time it’s just like, ‘Yeah, I’m more bi than I am just flat out gay’.”
Stan says the bi community online is a little murky. He says the groups are usually purely about sex. He says he finds it difficult to find bi groups online that are more about establishing a healthy sense of community rather than a healthy romp in the sheets. I gave him several sites where he could find the bi communities that he is seeking.
Stan said that the easiest way for him to come out bi would probably be if he was to move to a new town and start over again with all new friends. Either that or come out bi after his mom ‘passes’. Although he does feel that telling his mother now, while she’s still alive, might give her hope that she could finally get that grandkid she’s always wanted. “Maybe not,” he said, rewinding his statement, and chuckling a bit. “It depends on the woman.” Some of his friends he will not come out to, however, because he knows he will be heavily judged.
Despite the worry over (and experiencing) the backlash about his secret sexuality and his preferred label of bi, Stan feels joy and comfort about who he is as a bi man. Regardless of what other people think of him being bi, Stan knows deep in his heart that even if he doesn’t announce it to everyone, he reveled, at last, “I have a label for it. I have something that I can understand and relate to.”
That is Stan’s story.
52% of LGB persons surveyed are bi, according to recent statistic analyses. 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?
In an effort to bring to the public the fears and discouragement of why many bi people choose to remain in the closet, I will be doing this 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.” I hope to give readers 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.