Meet Vance

7/5/2018

istock/lolostock

Meet Vance. Vance is in the closet.

In the last thirty years I’ve noticed that there often seems to be swells of time periods when it feels safe to come out of the closet about one’s sexuality or gender identity. As quickly as the tide ebbs and flows that period ends and we’re left with a feeling of despair; a mood that it’s just not the right time to come out and there will never be a time. But, we can’t leave hope out to sea. There will always be a right time and that right time might even be when you’d least expect you’d come out.

Vance seems right on the edge of that. From his comments, it appears that he’s ready to ride that wave high to the shores of the open world. He noted, “I fully intend to be out within the next year. I am currently working on cutting toxic people out of my life and replacing them with friends who will support me regardless of my orientation. Ideally my wife would feel safe and comfortable and we could come out of the closet together.” Just one more step and he is out, but let’s get to why he is not yet.

I asked Vance to describe, in one sentence, his fear of coming out bi. He replied, “I am afraid that I will lose my relationships with friends and family.” It happens. Less often now, but it still happens. In the US alone, more people are accepting of LGBT people than in any other time period in it’s history, so why still the fear?

Sometimes, it comes from who we think should be there with open and loving arms. I asked Vance if he felt like gay, lesbian, ace, and straight communities accept his bisexuality. He revealed, “I have found little acceptance from the straight and gay communities. In my experience lesbian, queer, and gender nonconforming communities are more open to and understanding of bisexuality. Men in particular, both gay and straight, seem very uncomfortable with bisexuality.”

In our bi community, we identify with a myriad of labels to describe our fluid sexuality. I asked if Vance uses some of those creative identifiers. He responded, “I self identify as bi because that is the word that people are most familiar with. Pansexual is more accurate for my situation. Queer feels the most comfortable and most accurately represents the fluidity of my sexuality.”

But, how long had Vance known he was bi? When did he have that first experience that made him aware he was attracted to more than one gender? “I realized I was bi in my mid twenties,” Vance related, “After getting married to a wonderful cishet woman. I grew up in a toxic conservative culture and as a result experienced a lot of internalized homophobia. I still struggle with self acceptance.”

He told me, “Bi people are represented as ‘greedy’ and promiscuous. In my community bisexuality isn’t seen as a legitimate orientation but as a result of lustfulness and an inability to control your sexuality.” To combat these lies, it’s important to be your best you and your most sincere you. You can do this best by being out of the closet and showing the world what bi is really like. It may surprise the world and put a damper on those misconceptions about us.

Vance revealed that he is involved online with people in the bi community. He stated, “I am part of a small community of bi people on Twitter. They have made me feel safe and at home.”

I can’t stress enough the importance of being with others similar to you. Others that share your same interests. It’s so easy to feel like the one square in a room full of triangles, until you find out that there are rooms all over the place with people so much like you. Vance hasn’t been to those places, such as LGBT centers, bars, or Pride events and parades, however. He answered, “I haven’t been to an LGBT event/space because my wife is still not comfortable with my queerness. She doesn’t feel safe with me coming out and so I have been very cautious about being outed. I do have a couple of very close gay friends and a gay pastor that I have talked to about my sexuality and they have been wonderful.” Having LGBT-identified friends and family are a boon, when it comes to keeping your emotional health at it’s apex. So, you see the importance of being out. If those people hadn’t been out, Vance wouldn’t know where to find them.

I asked Vance if he had ever been in a same-gender relationship. He remarked, “No I have not. My wife and I are monogamous and I realized I was bi after we were married. I have experienced same sex crushes.” Bi people are in every type of relationship you can imagine. Monogamous relationships, serial dating, marriages, and open ones. There is no one right to being bi and how one experiences loving relationships.

I feel excited for Vance and his dream of coming out soon. My last question I wanted to know what about being bi brought Vance the most joy and comfort. Vance replied, “The thing I most treasure about being bi is that I get to see people the same way that the Divine does. People are attractive. Different genders have different aspects that are attractive but all genders are created to be beautiful and lovely.”

Yes. There is beauty to be found in everyone. No one knows that better than a bi person.

That is Vance’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?

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.