lgbtqi+ · personal life

Coming Out (Of My Cage and I’ve Been Doing Just Fine) – edited

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while. But it still feels strange to tell this as a story – it both feels new and old to my life at the same time. In Summer of 2019, I publically came out as bisexual. It was with a cute post on Facebook with some bisexual memes, and using *NSYNC lyrics (“It ain’t no lie, bi bi bi.” – I never can resist a good pun). I was both terrified and exhilarated when I posted it. But what many people don’t know is that the moment of coming out is nothing compared to the time leading up to when you actually come out. At least for me.

It all started around ten or so years ago. I was a young, very religious Catholic teenager. I went to youth group and mass every week. And I was sexually attracted to girls. And boys. I’m not exactly sure how I realized it, but I knew that I was attracted to both. And I felt broken and gross. I was against gay marriage and fully believed that God meant marriage to be between a man and a woman. So why did I feel this way? Why was I attracted to women? And not just women, but men too. I remember my mom making an off-hand comment one time when I was growing up. She was expressing her confusion and frustration with bisexuality. “Why can’t they just pick one? They just want to have sex with everybody.” She said of people who identified with bisexual. That comment stayed with me for years to come. I was dirty. Something was wrong with me.

I went back and forth between hiding how I felt, and flaunting it. I would talk about how yes, I was attracted to girls, but I was never going to act on the “urge” and was still a model Catholic, maybe even better than a model Catholic, considering this new cross I had to bear.

In high school, my favorite class was Creative Writing. My teacher was openly gay, and his classroom was decorated heavily with rainbows and signs indicating that he was a safe space for his LGBTQ+ students. He also was the teacher in charge of the Gay/Straight Alliance. He and I discussed Church teaching and homosexuality quite often. He was raised Catholic, but hadn’t practiced in years. He was so happy and secure in who he was. He had a husband, a job he was passionate at, and a dog. I was amazed at this, and I think part of the reason I flocked to his classroom multiple times a week, and took Creative Writing every single year, was because it was a comfort to see someone so secure in their sexual identity, when I was so confused about mine, and saw it as the enemy.

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When I was in college, I decided that I had made the whole thing up. I decided that I was experiencing hypersexuality (a symptom of one of my mental illnesses) and that my mom was right – I just wanted to sleep with everyone. I remember even mentioning casually to my friend, who was a lesbian, that for a while, I thought I was gay. But I wasn’t. I mean, I wasn’t wrong, I guess. I’m not gay. I’m bisexual. I’m queer.

After I graduated college, I got into my first relationship with my now ex-boyfriend. He was my first… everything. First kiss, etcetera. I loved him. I loved being with him. I was relieved to discover that I wasn’t gay – I was with a man! I loved him! I enjoyed being with him! It was all a phase.

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Except it wasn’t. I was still attracted to women in addition to my boyfriend. After we broke up, I dated a few men casually. I was attracted to and enjoyed being with all of them. Yep. Definitely not gay! Just… I thought women were super hot too?

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In February of 2019, on a work volunteer trip, it all of the sudden clicked that I was bisexual. I remember saying it out loud, and it felt like everything just fell into place, and years of questioning and pretending all made sense. I remember crying, because I felt such a sense of relief. I finally, truly was able to accept and come out to myself. I texted my best friend at the time and my mom that night and came out to them. I was kind of nervous about telling my mom, but she and I are very close, and I tell her everything, almost to a fault. She reacted with so much love, asking “Is there a special girl?” I felt so relieved that she responded so warmly. I even told her about how I struggled with accepting my identity due to the comment she made years prior. She apologized, and told me that she had grown and learned a lot since then, and didn’t think that way anymore. I know I am so, so lucky to have her.

But my fear stayed about coming out to other friends and family members. I come from a big, Irish and Italian Catholic family, and I was afraid of what they would say. Though I’m not religious any more, many of my closest friends still are, and my sister is a Catholic missionary. Would they shun me immediately? Should I still try to hide who I was?

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I decided to come out in person to my closest friends and sister, and asked my mom to tell some family members I was nervous about telling. I remember telling my sister, and she just smiled. She told me she had had a feeling for a long time. Apparently my “hypothetical” questions of “If I was gay…” that I had asked her when I was a teenager never fooled her. My closest friends all responded with such love and acceptance, and some with excitement and joy, because they could tell how important this was to me. Once I had told everyone that I wanted to, I decided to wait and see if I wanted to publically come out. Part of me wondered if there was a point. I wasn’t dating anyone. I thought that maybe I should just wait and see if I ever got into a relationship with a woman, and then come out. After a few months, I came to the conclusion that being publically out and upfront about being bisexual was a vital part in learning to fully love and accept myself.

And so… I came out. I’m so grateful that it was something I was able to do with complete clarity of who I am. But, I’m even more grateful (and extremely privileged!!!) to have such wonderful family and friends who surrounded me with so much love and support. I believe there are some people that used to be in my life that no longer associate with me because of my sexuality, but that’s okay. Something I realized while deciding whether or not to publically come out was that the people who saw me any differently because I was bisexual were not people I wanted in my life. Sure, it makes me sad sometimes to think that this was something so upsetting to people who were once so important to me, but I can’t control how they feel about it.

Coming out is a process. It’s a journey all in its own, and everybody’s journey is different. If you are struggling with deciding if you should come out or not, know that you don’t owe anybody anything, especially not your sexuality. When you come out, make ure you’re coming out for you. Only do it if you feel secure and safe and as an act of self-love. When you do come out, your story isn’t going to look like mine, because you aren’t me. You are worthy, whether you are in the closet or if you’re out. You are valid, whether you are in the closet or if you’re out. When you’re ready, we’re here. But until then, do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

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