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One Foot Out of the Closet
On the night of December 18th, 2011, as I lay in my bed waiting for sleep to wash over me, I realized something: I was bisexual.
I realized. Not I chose. I discovered, if you prefer. More of an “I discovered that I was taller than average, and there was nothing anyone could do to change that” than an “I discovered that I was failing English, but if I work harder this semester, it will get better” sort of thing.
In retrospect, my subconscious had spent a number of years trying to point this out to me. There was the female main character in the first story I had any intention of finishing who not only rescued the princess, but married her too. There was the fact that I didn’t have a crush on anyone – a boy, for the indomitably curious – until spring of my sophomore year. There was the fact that my eyes followed some of the girls in my foreign language class, without any sort of reciprocal action on the boys. Except for in music, where my eyes followed the boys. There was also the minor fact that at the age of seventeen years and nine months, I had never had a date. Nothing larger than the aforementioned crushes.
I went to sleep that night with two facts reverberating around my skull: First, that I was, more or less, equally attracted to both guys and girls. And second, that my alarm was due to go off at 5:20 the next morning and I should probably deal with the first some other time.
The next day was awkward. Now that I knew, I walked around school looking at everyone with a new eye. Was he gay? Was she lesbian? More importantly, could they tell what I was?
Merging into and around these questions was one more: When should I tell my parents? Plucking up my courage, that Tuesday I walked into my parents’ bedroom. Mom was at work. Dad was there, alone, reading. I shuffled my feet, looked down, and finally met his eyes. “Dad, I’m bi.”
For a moment he looked like I had just hit him. Opening his mouth several times, he finally said, “How do you know?”
I flushed bright red. “I’m attracted to both boys and girls.”
“Oh. Okay then.”
I smiled tentatively at him; he smiled back. I relaxed. He hadn’t yelled, hadn’t told me to get out, hadn’t accused me of lying. It could have been worse.
The conversation with Mom, later that evening was, in many ways, the same, but was distinguished mainly by its length, her constant reminders that “You don’t want to close off any avenue this early,” and her reassurances that, “Don’t worry; everyone’s bisexual to some degree.”
When all was said and done, I went to sleep with these facts: I wouldn’t be the 25% of LGBT teens who are kicked out of home after coming out and my parents, while nice, really had no idea of what it meant to be bisexual.
Still, there was school to consider and I couldn’t afford to get distracted now. My final Senior Project was fast approaching and, on the day of my presentation, I walked my assigned room, which happened to be the clubroom for the Gay-Straight Alliance. Up to this point, I was only vaguely aware that our school even had a GSA, and I had not given it any thought as a resource.
Standing in her room, however, I was acutely aware that I would not be able to make it through the school year without allies who accepted me unconditionally. When the presentations were over, I went up to Mrs. Wright and asked for a club pass. I began going to club within the month.
GSA immediately became one of my bulwarks. Although I have not outright come out to anyone in there, it is a place where I don’t have to hide, don’t have to give a half answer to the question “Who do you think is cute?
At the beginning of February, my grandparents came over for dinner. My grandma wanted to know if I had seen any cute boys at a recent college visit. Summoning up all my courage, I responded that, although I had kept an eye out for both cute guys and cute girls, I had not seen much of either. My grandma was mildly surprised. I’m still not entirely sure my grandpa even heard me.
April brought with it the Day of Silence and more truths about my friends than I really wanted to confront. Newly inspired about my ability to change the world, I threw myself into the preparations. Then, the GSA began signing people up to participate and I ran into a brick wall. Some logical part of my brain had already identified that some people – a lot of people, – while being fine with the idea of gays, balked at being asked to support them. Us. Me.
Unfortunately, that logical part had neglected to inform the rest of my brain of this unsettling fact, which meant that when I came home after the second day of sign-ups to discover that a friend’s Facebook status contained – whether they were aware of it or not – thinly veiled anti-gay sentiment, I had to restrain myself from either crying or swearing at the computer.
Brief crying spell aside, the sign-ups otherwise went well. In my head, I began sorting people into groups. There was the group that I had already told. That one was depressingly short. Then there was the group of people who should be smart enough by this point to know: about the same length. The group of people who would probably be safe to tell: substantially longer, bolstered by all those who I watched sign up. And the two groups I feared the most: the unknowns and those I considered not-safe. I like leaving people in the unknown category. It gives me hope. Moving them to not-safe because of comments in the halls or on Facebook disturbs me. I want to be able to trust my friends, not live in fear that if I say something wrong, I’ll destroy things between us. I want my sexuality to be an added facet of my life, not something that could tear it all down. I want the genders of the people I like to be of just as much importance as their hair color. While I’m at it, I want to go on a date, too.