Hi, I‘m Bobby. I am Bisexual. I am a 34 year old cisgender male psychologist and single parent. I am a psychologist specializing in LGBTQ+ issues, and I also identify as bisexual myself. I grew up in a military family, went to graduate school in the Midwest, and now live in the deep south (New Orleans). I am an avid cyclist and a member of the New Orleans Gay Men’s Choir. I’m a single father of two daughters (one adult, the other a teenager). I am a little more introverted than extroverted.
What being bisexual means to meFor me, being bisexual is having the potential to be romantically and/or sexually attracted to men, women, transgender, and gender noncomforming individuals. I have been romantically and sexually attracted to people of many genders, and identify myself as bi or pansexual. I tend to be most attracted to people who transcend traditional gender roles at least a little bit, people who see their gender, or their gender expression as somewhere other than on the extreme ends of the binary. This might include cisgender feminists, gender queer or non-conforming individuals, or at least people with many “masculine” characteristics as well as “feminine” ones.
Although I am bisexual, I actually have very little sexual experience outside of one relationship (as I was in a very long term monogamous relationship. Although I have the potential to be attracted to various genders, I take sex very seriously because it is a very emotional experience for me that creates very quick attachments.
In my version of bisexual, I could certainly be in a relationship with someone who is straight, gay, trans, or queer, just as long as they understand that I have been attracted to people of other genders. This does not mean I’m attracted to everybody; like most people, I have preferences regarding body type and personality and values. This does not mean that I will be looking outside of the relationship, quite the opposite actually. If I’m with someone, I’m attracted to them, and am not going to wander just because I’m bored of their gender or find someone of some other gender more intriguing or easier to fit within social norms. I am not simply “gay” and in the process of going from straight to gay. Nor am I straight and just a little bi-curious. I have identified as bisexual for a decade and am pretty sure I will always identify this way. It is important for me to be open about my bisexuality. I am ‘out’ to everyone (friends, family, even facebook) and am vocal about being bisexual in all my straight and LGBT circles.
What I would like the world to know about bisexualsThat bisexuality means different things to different people and that it is up to each individual to identify their own sexual orientation and sexuality. I have had too many straight and gay people try to define my sexuality for me, ugh!. Especially with bisexuality, it does not necessarily relate to who a person has sex with or is in a relationship with at the current time; it is actually about who a person 'could' be with. I would also really like the world to know that bisexuality does not necessarily mean that a person has a lot of sex all the time and/or wants a 3 some. I know that this is a common myth and has been talked about many times, but it is still such a common stereotype.
What was your path to a bisexual identity?I was raised in a very conservative religious environment that posited that any sexuality outside of cisgender heterosexuality was sinful and unnatural. As a child and teenager, that mentality was so ingrained in me that I was in complete denial that I might have feelings towards anyone other than women (heterosexual). I fell in love with a woman when I was 18, married her soon after, and was married to her for more than a decade. I never really dated before her, and had not had sex with anyone else. Our relationship had challenges at times, but I was consistently attracted to her throughout the relationship. I realized I was bisexual in my early/mid 20s, at about the same time that I deconstructed my faith. At that time, I realized that I had had attractions to some men in my youth and would still sometimes think about relationships with men, transgender individuals, as well as other women. I have always been monogamous and did not feel any need to have romantic or sexual relationships with anyone else while I was married. Therefore, these attractions remained in fantasy, not unlike the attractions that a straight person might have toward a member of the opposite sex, but choose not to act on, because they are in a monogamous straight relationship. I did not struggle with this, though my ex-wife sometimes stated that she felt threatened by my friendships with men.
As I came out to myself in my mid 20s, I also disclosed my bisexuality to my wife and my children, concentrated some of my psychology studies on LGBT issues, and began volunteering with numerous LGBT advocacy projects. My understanding of gender identity and sexuality broadened a great deal and I realized I had attractions to many different people of various genders, including transgender and non-conforming individuals. I myself, identify as cis-gender, but am certainly more feminine than the average guy.
After 13 years of marriage, and parenting two kids, my ex-wife and I divorced due to factors that were not really related to my sexuality. I decided to disclose my bisexuality more explicitly to my extended family so that they would be prepared for me to date anyone that might not be a heterosexual cis-gender woman. Although they knew of my LGBT work, they also knew I was married to a woman and therefore assumed I was straight. I came out to my parents, who were still religiously conservative. Although they expressed some reservation, they were primarily supportive of me. They are still hoping that its “just a phase,” but they have embraced me, even to the point that they want to meet the gay choir and would like to meet any serious future partners.
Because I am more focused on my parenting, and because I am more introverted that extroverted, I have done very little dating since the divorce, which a few men and a few women. I only enjoy sex within the context of a romantic relationship. Because of this, I have not had any other sexual relationships and have not really had a romantic relationship with any men or transgender people. I know it would be possible. I have recently had feelings for men, women, and transpeople, but I have not felt that any of them would actually be good matches for me.
What is the toughest thing about being bisexual?I can't pick one thing, so here's three.
1. Invisibility: it is very frustrating that people assume my sexual orientation without really knowing it. When I was married, people assumed I was straight. Without the knowledge of my marriage and children, people tend to assume I'm gay. Neither is true of course.
2. Having my bisexuality invalidated because I have only had sex with one gender. I was married 14 years and was only sexually and romantically active with my wife. I began identifying as bisexual after about 5 years of marriage, but was very happy in the relationship and had no desire to “experiment” outside of my relationship. At that time I was frequently told that I was really just straight, but had some sort of gay fantasy, or that I was just so in-tune with the challenges of the LGBT people around me, that I wanted to fit in with that group. Now that I am divorced and still active in the LGBT community, people tend to invalidate my feelings towards women, that I was actually a gay man trapped in a straight relationship. Neither of these are true. I have had plenty of attractions to multiple genders, regardless of who I’ve actually been with.
3. Dating. Straight people seem to worry that I am actually gay, and gay people seem worried that I am either actually straight, or too nervous to actually come out as gay. Also, both gay and straight seem to think I am going to be a pretty sexually active person, which I’m really not (unless I am in a relationship with that person, in which case, I actually have a pretty high sex drive)
What is the best thing about being bisexual?My own confidence with knowing who I am. Although other people might not understand me, I have found a great deal of self-esteem and confidence in knowing that I know who I am and knowing that no one can else can define me.
Also, its not exactly a result of being bisexual, but I do think that being bisexual has helped me understanding the experience of all LGBTQ people much better; and also understand some of the oppression of women, as well as other under-represented people (minority groups). B is not the same as L or G or T, but we are all in the minority and all deal with invisibility and oppression in our own ways.
Additionally, being bisexuality has helped me connect to my lesbian daughter, and has helped it be very easy to talk about sexual development with both of my children as they have grown up.
How have other people in your life reacted to your bisexuality?People have reacted very favorably to my bisexuality. I wear a bisexual pin, have a bisexual bumper sticker, talk about bisexuality on my facebook page, and bring it up in conversation all the time. Friends and family are very positive of my bisexuality, though the religious folks do have some reservations.
What advice do you have for someone who thinks they may be bi or who is in the process of coming out as bi?Don't let anyone decide your identity for you. Keep thinking about it and decide for yourself who you are. And don't let any coerce you into coming out. It is your decision to come out if and when you want to. But if you do want to come out, please take courage and know you are not alone. I don't know many other out bisexuals personally, but I do know there are many more than talk about it. They are out there, and the more we talk about it, and the more we make it visible, the more real it will be in the public eye.