National Coming Out Day: This Closet
Let’s talk about this closet, y’all.
I don’t remember coming out of the closet. I know there was a moment when I said the words, “I’m bisexual,” for the first time, but I don’t know when that was. It’s been a while, let’s say, since I “came out” and I’ve been living out and out loud for at least a decade.
What I do remember, is the process of seeing the closet built around me.
When I was a little girl I recall watching an episode, every episode, of the Wonder Woman television show with Lynda Carter. That show actually went off the air when I was four, but through the magic of syndication I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every single moment of magic and Amazonian badassery.
When I was about five or six I turned to my mother during one episode and said “I want to marry her some day.”
Look at her. you’d want to marry her too.
My mother’s response was “No. You want to be her.”
OK well yes that too. But I really wanted to marry her. Because as little kid, it never occurred to me that wasn’t allowed.
I was bi. So I thought everyone else was bi too. Somehow I got it in my head that when you grew up and got married you would just decide on a gender to attach to. I don’t know, kid logic. Don’t ask me.
In that moment, when I was corrected on what I wanted and how I felt my eyes were opened and I started to really look around at the way other people treated the concept of bisexuality and the first nail went in to my closet.
Both the (admittedly few) gay people in my life and the straight people looked at bisexuality as if it were simply a stepping stone to being gay or straight, as if the only real, adult choices were on either side of the spectrum but nowhere in the middle.
Bisexuality was a punchline at best. And there was zero representation aside from the periodic predatory bi on television. There was another nail.
Being gay was vilified among my peer group and even the teachers joined in at the jokes told at the expense of the only gay teacher in my elementary school. More nails.
So I decided to be straight because that seemed easier.
Pssst…it’s not easier. I just thought it would be. I was wrong.
For at least 30 years I did my best to kill half of myself. That didn’t work, clearly but the attempt was still harmful.
Then at some point, which as I mentioned I don’t remember, I came out.
And you know what? Coming out did not magically make everything better. I was still in a relationship with an abusive narcissist. I still didn’t really know how to be in a good relationship. I didn’t know who I was.
All of that knowledge took a further ten years. And, you know, it’s still a work in progress.
So, what’s the point of all this?
The point is, coming out isn’t an ending. It’s not the solution to a problem, it’s the first step in problem solving. And it’s not a thing you do just one time. It becomes part of your life, like breathing.
If the closet is safer, then good. Stay safe. if coming out is the best choice then do that. But, we have to be equally supportive of both. If not, we’re failing as a community.