Step Bi Step: I Told My Mom Group I’m Bi
It feels a bit like standing at the edge of a cliff. Or at the very least, the second story of a mall, leaning a bit to look down. Not that I’m looking down on anyone! Fuck. You know what I mean…this parent stuff can be awkward. Like the first day of school when you’ve transferred, except like 80% of the other kids have also transferred and everyone is new.
So. Where was I? Right. The cliff. Standing at the edge of coming out. Some fear of the unknown, a bit of excitement, a tense bow teeming toward release.
I wonder how this experience differs for bi folks compared to monosexuals. Bi people are less likely than gays and lesbians to be out. We’re not only subject to homophobia, but also biphobia from both inside and outside of our queer community. There are great misunderstandings about what bisexuality is—and a much greater focus on what it is not. A lot of folks presume bisexuality brings a host of pejorative characteristics with it. But we are queer and bright, ace and curvy, enby and monogamous, tall and short, curt and trans, polyamorous and disabled, honest and kind, and so much more. The only commonalities we are guaranteed to have are the potential for love with more than one gender, and experiences with biphobia.
When you’re present, in person, it is easier to take the temperature of a room. But so much new parent interaction is online, in groups filled with people you may have not yet met. That makes it a bit harder to tell who knows love is love and who thinks of the LGBTQ community as a “lifestyle” they “don’t necessarily agree with.” My queerness is intricately tied to my career—so much of my published work has been in some way specifically related to bisexuality. I’ll often come out by way of someone’s casual, “What do you do?” On one hand, it’s a blessing—I’m able to come out easier, since bierasure means people often don’t see me as queer. On the other hand, I sometimes end up at the coming-out-cliff via casual conversation, weighing authenticity against the potentials of a judgemental unknown.
And so I pause at my keyboard and I wonder…What if I’m ostracized? Before, I would’ve just shrugged, acknowledged it stung a little but in the long run, better to know early. But here’s this sweet little babe I’ll be shepherding through society—how will I balance being who I am with how it will effect them? Will they not be invited to play, will kids my kid wants to play with not be allowed to come over? In the ever-present potential for a bigot in a crowd, will this crowd have my back when the whispers, when the stereotypes, when the gossip tries to flow? I can handle finding out people I was hoping were cool are not. I’m realizing the fear of finding out my little family will be going it alone tugs at my heart in a way I’m deeply hesitant to know.
I don’t want to be included unless it’s inconvenient; I don’t want my kid to learn there are parts of us we should have shame in. I want to model for my little one that the love we have for ourselves can be unconditional. And I want to build our community as one that welcomes all kinds of families. A parent support system that will not tolerate those who would only “tolerate” folks different from themselves.
I had other worries, too. A lot of people still equate LGBT with GGGG(ay)—if you’re queer, that just means your plus one is a partner of the same gender. Bi folks are the largest segment of the LGB pie, most bi folks are partnered with someone of a different gender, most queer parents are bi. But there is so little information, therefore understanding, of us out there. As I considered being out with my mamas group, I had this little doubt. What if I disappoint people? A fear that I’ll be tokenized and in showing up with my husband, not live up to the hype. An imposter syndrome imposed on so many bi folks. Am I queer enough? Yes, I am. And so are you.
At the end of the day, I am fucking awesome. And my kid is a delight. Anyone would be lucky to have us, exactly as we are. So I pressed Enter, I jumped off that cliff, I shared a piece I wrote, I asked if folks knew of any groups for queer parents in the area. And much to my relief, the mamas were great. A few had referrals, a few had kind words. I haven’t made it all the way to solid ground yet. I haven’t landed a sturdy queer-friendly parent support system, a trove of other families who believe the best in each other. But that takes years, not these few months. This little step off this big old cliff gets me further down that path.
I’m grateful I’m in so many environments where it is safe for me to be open and out. Whether or not you can be out, I hope you know you’re welcome here, exactly as you are. Be sure to join me next time, so we can keep figuring this parenting thing out together. Step bi step.