Hi, Groupthink. Would you like to hear something I want to tell the truth about?
I am a bisexual man.
It still feels weird to see that written down. Hell, it still feels weird to think it, and even weirder to say it. But it's no longer something I want to hide from, as terrifying as it is. I spent 28 years doing that, and I think I'm done now. Pressing the publish button on this is one of the hardest things I think I've ever done; I've been sitting here for an hour now pretending this piece still needed editing. But it's necessary. Maybe it always has been, but I never wanted to face it.
I only fully realized this myself within the past two weeks. The first question I'm asked, when I've told people within the last few days, is always the same one: "how did you figure it out?" On some level, I've always known — I just didn't want to acknowledge it. When I finally got around to confronting this, I remembered all the times I saw a guy and felt the same adrenaline rush that I did when I saw a beautiful woman, or how gay couples in love were just as adorable and inspiring as any straight couple, or all the times I "jokingly" talked about how I'd "go gay" for a male celebrity, when in reality I felt the same whether I was looking at Christina Hendricks or Nathan Fillion. I wasn't "going" anywhere. I was already there, in both places at once.
Most of all, I thought about a question that's been rattling around my brain for as long as I can remember: why are LGBT issues so important to me? I always told myself it was just because I believed really strongly in equality — but ultimately, that was a selfish lie. When I'd think about the casual injustices perpetrated against people of color, I would get angry in the abstract; I knew it was wrong, and I felt sympathy, but if I pretended it resonated personally, that I understood, that wouldn't be the truth.
But when I'd think about the injustices faced by the LGBT community, I would get so furious I could barely see straight. I'd think about hateful, awful bigots like Tim Huelskamp, Michele Bachmann, Antonin Scalia, Rick Perry, or Rick Santorum, and my fists would ball, and my teeth would clench, and the hatred would well up inside me until my lungs caught fire and my tears fell like rain. I'd scream at the sky and wonder how a just and loving God could possibly allow people like that to exist, people who'd deny others their very humanity just because some fucking book told them to. How could anyone be that heartless? How could anyone be that cruel?
The more I thought about it, the more personal it became. This was nothing if not visceral, and it struck at the heart of me. What I realize now was that the only way I could understand, really understand, was if it was a part of me — and it is. It always will be. Does that make me selfish? Probably. But I'm not going to pretend I'm anything but imperfect.
I've thought a lot about why it took me this long to realize it. My parents were always very, very open with myself and my brother about our sexualities being completely ok, whatever they were. To turn into an LGBT-hipster for a second, my family was into marriage equality before it was cool. Even back to my grandparents, they've always been more than accepting. So shouldn't that have made it easier for me to figure this out?
Well...no, actually. In a bizarre way, the fact that my family (and every group I've ever really been a part of, really) was so accepting made it more difficult for me to face what was in front of me — but only because I'm bisexual rather than gay. I never had to face any real intolerance, not personally, not from anyone I cared about. I never had a moment of heartbreak, a moment where I faced true rejection because of who I was. In short, I had it too easy to ever need to face what was going on — there was no moment of ugliness that ever forced me to look inside myself.
Moreover, while the notion has been in the back of my head for years, since I was attracted to women (the socially-acceptable practice according to the antiquated mores of American society), I wasn't losing anything by not confronting who I was, by pushing those thoughts to the back of my mind. I have several gay friends who've told me that not being honest with themselves was incredibly psychologically painful for them; for many of them, the impetus for why they ultimately came out of the closet had a lot to do with the fact that it hurt them too much to stay inside it.
That's not how it worked for me. For a bisexual guy (particularly one who is still more attracted to women than to men, although admittedly not by much), the cost isn't the same when you say you're straight and think the fact that there are men you'd absolutely hop into bed with just means you're progressive and in touch with yourself. You're lying to yourself if you think that doesn't move you off the 0 spot on the Kinsey Scale, but it's a comfortable lie — a safe lie. It costs you comparatively little to just pretend to be straight; in this way, as in many others, we get a WAY better end of the bargain than gay men, from society's perspective.
Here's the other thing I think contributed to the slowness of my realization: are there ANY well-known bisexual male role models at present, in basically any field? A single household name? Gay men have Neil Patrick Harris, Dan Savage, George Takei, and historically, Harvey Milk, Oscar Wilde, and Alan Turing. Lesbians have Ellen and Portia, Rachel Maddow, Tammy Baldwin, Martina Navritilova, and Brittney Griner. Bisexual women have Angelina Jolie, and are in a wholly different place within society's perception than bisexual men (not better or worse, just very different). I thought of all these names off the top of my head, by the way.
Who do we have? Does anyone know any names that you don't have to look up on Wikipedia to identify? Even historically, most of what you get is "probably" bisexual guys like Cary Grant, or people no one really has any clear picture of like James Dean, or men who have an incredibly conflicted history that ultimately does more harm than good in some ways (this group might consist entirely of David Bowie). Historically we can point to Kinsey himself and John Maynard Keynes and Freddy Mercury (who most people think was just gay, which is another issue), but who have we had in the decades since Freddy died?
If you search the internet for "self-identified bisexual men," you mostly get results questioning (or validating the question, which is almost as bad) of whether they even exist. Even Savage validated this bullshit at one point, though he doesn't seem to be doing so any more, and since he's Dan Savage, maybe I want to forgive him more than I should. It's hard for me to read these things without wanting to break out into tears — it's taken me a long time to figure out my identity, and to have someone casually take that away from me as if I'm lying...that isn't ok. Just to pretend that the question of whether bisexual men exist is a legitimate one to ask is abhorrent — to come to the conclusion that we don't is nothing less than a self-aggrandizing denial of reality. I know who I am now, and who I've always been, and no one has the right to take that away from me. No one ever has the right to tell anyone else who to be.
It's certainly possible for a person to change their position on the spectrum over time. When talking about this with a friend of mine who only recently came out as gay, he freely admitted that earlier in his life, he had absolutely been attracted to both genders, and was never forcing it for the sake of acceptance. As time has gone on, he's become less attracted to women, and more to men (he currently put himself at a 5 on the Kinsey Scale, but said that in 6 years it's likely he will have moved even further). That's not the case for me, though. I'm not "transitioning" to being gay — I will always, always, ALWAYS be attracted to women. I can't express strongly enough that the day I stop being attracted to either gender is the day my heart stops beating. I'm at the exact same point on the Kinsey Scale (a 2) that I always was. For anyone to insist that I'm just pretending to be one or the other for the sake of acceptance is the height of arrogance and idiocy.
Telling people about this has been an interesting process, and I haven't told that many until now. LadyTrout was the first one I told in person, and actually saying the words is still one of the most difficult things I've ever done (though it gets easier every time). She's been phenomenal about it. I haven't asked for nor do I in any way desire even the slightest change in the parameters of our relationship — I'm perfectly happy never sleeping with anyone but her for the rest of my life. But this would still be a weird thing for a lot of significant others to deal with, and she's been great.
I'd also like to thank the GTers who I've talked to about this privately: fightinginfishnets, Burt Reynolds Is My Spirit Guide, cassiebearrawr, and especially Korra (the very first person I told). All of you have been really great and supportive through this. I also feel I owe a debt to the Groupthink community, because without you guys, I don't know how long it would've taken me to realize it. Multiple people have told me I didn't have to make this post...but I did. I couldn't stand to not be honest any longer.
The funniest part of this whole process was one question LadyTrout asked me only a short while after I told her. "Wait," she said, during a lull in the conversation, "...does this mean we can talk about cute guys now?"
You're damn right it does, dear. You're damn right it does.
Edit: I have no idea why half the text of this post appears to be taking up the main Groupthink page, but I promise I didn't do that. I'm not sure how that happened.
Edit: Hey guys, just to let you know before anyone freaks out, Laura had my express permission to mainpage this. It's completely cool.