Today is National Coming Out Day. I am sure most regular readers of my blog know that I am bisexual (though I prefer the label ‘queer’). My friend Michael Watts asked me to share my ‘coming out’ story and I realized this is a difficult thing to do. There was a time period when I was fooling myself into believing I was straight, but this ended in my mid-teens and I’ve never been deliberately closeted since then.
My first indications that I was not heterosexual came very early indeed. In kindegarten I was caught by a teacher in the boy’s bathroom fooling around with another male classmate. This early incident made its way into my queer horror short story “Becoming” but unlike the protagonist of the story I can’t clearly recall any overt shaming of my behavior in the aftermath. On the other hand, I stuffed this side of myself somewhere very deep for years thereafter. I just didn’t think about those things, and made the assumption that I was straight.
It wasn’t until my middle teens that some online interactions made me realize I wasn’t probably that straight. In one of the few clear “coming out” experiences I can point too, I told my mother one night that I thought I was bisexual. She reacted with complete support and also a complete lack of surprise — in the process she reminded me of that early incident and a few others like it that suggested queerness. At the time my father and I were not close, but when I came out to him years later he was equally supportive (and probably more surprised by the news I was polyamorous than anything else).
Rather than a concrete coming out, my life has instead been a gradual process of living more openly about many ways in which I differ from the so-called “norm.” As time passes I am not just more open about who I am, but less inclined to spend time around people or cultures where I have to hide that. This includes bisexuality, but also the fact that I am polyamorous, kinky, even someone who watches porn. I don’t necessarily tell everyone I meet these things, but I fearlessly correct mistaken assumptions about myself when I hear them, and discuss my life quite freely here and in meatspace.
I recognize that I am privileged in many ways, including but not limited to the fact that I live in a major urban center that is open to queerness and that I am drawn to a career — writing — where my lifestyle is, if anything, a potential asset, rather than one like politics or teaching where I’d have to hide so much more of myself. I’m glad it’s safe for me to be so very out, and I know it isn’t always for others (including those who serve in the US military, one of Michael’s favorite topics).
I wouldn’t consider myself an LGBT activist, and I have much love for those who are. I hope though that by living my life openly, and exploring topics such as these in my writing, I provide examples to others. I look back on my life, and I know that it truly does get better, and has continued to get better the more open I am. I know my life has more love, sex, and awesome people in it than I ever could have dreamed when I was a frustrated teenager hesitantly exploring his sexuality online.
See also: my previous post on bisexuality and visibility.