Dear Joanna: "Am I bi enough?"

Untitled-2Dear Joanna,

For the most part I’m certain that I’m bisexual, but it seems like no matter how many times I seek support on the internet and am reassured that yes, it’s okay to be bisexual and lean more heavily towards guys, I still somehow don’t feel “gay” enough to legitimately call myself bi, or be a member of the LGBT community. I also only just recently came out to myself (as in, last week) which might contribute my feelings of not belonging to the LGBT community. Even though the word “bisexual” has been making occasional appearances in my mind for the last 4-5 years, I found it relatively easy to convince myself that I was straight. There was that time that I fooled around with a (girl) friend when I was about 13, but I just called it “experimentation”. And when I had a crush on another female friend from 15-16? I told myself it was just strong friendship, and any time my brain ever dared to label it an actual crush, I told myself I was just going through a phase. Except I’m 20 years old now and really don’t think it can be considered a phase anymore.

I’ve always supported the LGBT community, and grew up in a house that was very open-minded, though this wasn’t the norm for the rest of my family, who are heavily religious Christians. I have an aunt that enjoyed relationships with men until she very unexpectedly fell in love with a woman 15 years ago, whom she is still with today. The rest of my family still accepts my aunt’s presence and makes the effort to keep in touch with her, but it is generally understood that to ever bring her partner to a family event would be taboo. So it’s not that I actually have a problem with liking girls, because I don’t- I just understand how much easier it is to be straight, and wanted to fit that simple model. In fact, I’ve always viewed bisexuality with amazement: basically the definition of loving someone for what’s on the inside, rather than out, and now that I’ve accepted this aspect of myself I’m actually very proud of it, but I feel very unsure about telling people.

While I feel like my parents would accept me and understand, I’m hesitant because of my best friend’s experience. She recently came out as a lesbian, and felt that while others may react badly, she’d at least always have her mother’s support. What ended up happening in reality was that she spent several weekends at my house because her mother couldn’t so much as look at her without crying. It was actually her coming out that prompted me to examine my sexuality more closely, and she is the only person that I have told. She’s been very understanding and supportive, but our families are also very good friends, and her mother’s opinion means almost as much to me as my own mother’s. Aside from that, I don’t want my interactions with my friend to ever be viewed with suspicion because we both like girls. She’s basically my sister, but would they ever fully believe us if we said that? On a more self-explanatory note, I feel that even if I did come out to my immediate family, it might not be a good idea to come out to my extended family, but I also feel like that wouldn’t be a healthy environment should I ever date a girl.

Which brings me to my final point of anxiety and actual question: If I’m a female bisexual that leans more towards men than women, is it even worth going to all this trouble to come out of the closet when for all I know, I may never even date a woman in the first place?

Taylor

Dear Taylor,

It’s nice to hear you’ve always accepted people of different 
sexualities and genders, and that you’ve recently allowed yourself to consider your 
same-sex attraction more than a phase.



 It’s such a shame your friend’s mother has been unsupportive
 so far, especially when her reaction was the opposite of what was 
expected. It can be difficult to
 accurately predict how someone will react to our “coming out”. There are numerous stories of rejection from those expected to be accepting, and (thankfully) many
others of acceptance – sometimes gradual, sometimes immediate – from family
 members or friends people thought would reject them. I know it may not be any comfort to either of
 you right now, but it’s possible this is something her mother will come to
 accept in time. (The mother of my female
 ex, who is now my good friend, was horrified when she discovered a love letter
to said ex from yours truly. It took her
 quite a long time to completely accept her daughter’s sexuality, but she did – 
in fact, she’ll be happily attending my ex’s wedding to another woman next
 month!)



. I understand your concern over people possibly thinking you
and your friend are together. Both of my 
female best friends have identified as either bisexual or lesbian over the years,
and a couple of my family members have apparently debated which of them I’m “secretly in love with” or sleeping with (eye
roll). I can’t promise you’ll never hear 
something similar.

For the most part,
 however, people accept we’re just friends and happy that way. If anyone says anything to you, ask if they’d
think the same of any straight person with a close friend of the opposite sex. Some people actually do – you might’ve heard,
“Men and women can’t just be friends” before now. If they say yes, you’ll know it’s just their 
way of thinking and nothing to do with your sexuality. If they say no, hopefully having the question
 put to them will make them re-think (if heterosexual
 men and women can be just friends, why not two females who experience attraction
 to other females?)



. I get that a lot of your concerns at the moment are about coming out – to your extended family, to your friend’s mother, and if it’s something
you should do at all when you have a strong preference for males.

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“You don’t have to wear badges and statement t-shirts…”

Whilst I don’t wish to discourage you from telling people if
 and when you feel ready, I don’t believe we necessarily have to make our
 sexuality known to every person in our lives. 
It isn’t a duty we have, nor do we have an obligation to (for example) 
buy statement t-shirts or join LGBT internet forums or go to parades. Your sexuality doesn’t have to define you, or 
be a part of your life in any way other than influencing who you date. Many people find coming out freeing because
they feel trapped by the idea of rejection or not being able to speak freely
about their crushes or relationship(s). 
The term conjures up an image of a person being freed from somewhere they
were stuck. If you don’t feel this way,
maybe it’s not necessary to tell everyone you know. If you think it’s something that would be
 nice to share with your parents or others in your life – if you feel like it’s
a secret you want to get off your chest or simply something they’d like to know
– then you could bring it up with them when you feel comfortable sharing. Be honest with them; tell them it may be that
 you never actually date a woman because your
 preference (which you can add is something many people have) is towards men, but 
that you wanted them to know. As for the 
rest of your family and anyone else, it’s fine for you not to tell them – now
and in the future, female partner or not. 
You’re not violating a rule that says you have to come out to every
individual you know or meet, because no such rule exists. 🙂

I know you mentioned caring very much about your friend’s 
mother’s opinion, but for now it’s probably best to wait and see if she begins
 to feel more comfortable with her daughter’s sexuality before telling her about
your own. 



Regarding your worries of not being “gay enough” to be a
member of the community – if by “community” you mean in general, rest assured 
there are many (many!) others like you who identify as bisexual but have a
preference – mild, somewhat, or strong – towards one sex. There are
gay and lesbian people who are hostile towards (all) bisexual men and women,
but such people are a minority. No one anywhere should ask you to “prove” your
 bisexuality or question “how” bisexual you are. 
You are a person who feels something physically and/or romantically for
both sexes – by definition (and if it’s a label you’re happy to adopt), you are 
bisexual, and your preference doesn’t matter in the slightest.

I hope I’ve helped calm your worries a little. They’re all completely normal and should 
hopefully leave you in time. 🙂 Best wishes to you and your friend,

Joanna.

 

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