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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Going through phases

I figured coming out to my mom as a bisexual wouldn't be a huge deal. I trust her a lot, and I know her to be a progressive woman; she's generally liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, she even played on a women's flag football team for twenty years where the vast majority of the members, her friends, were lesbians.

So I came out to her over Thanksgiving. The reaction was, while not the opposite of what I expected, still pretty surprising. It turns out my mom doesn't believe bisexuality exists. Its not that she is anti-bi, she just believes its a “phase” and that I'll “have to pick sides eventually.” She wasn't angry, and didn't treat me differently after I told her, but it was as though I had mentioned that I was having trouble deciding on a major; my bisexuality was something to work through, figure out, and decide.

The most frustrating part of the experience is how often I get similar reactions from people to the concept of bisexuality. Look, people: being bi isn't a stage in life that I'm going through. When I finally settle down with a guy or a girl, I won't suddenly be straight or lesbian. I'll have decided upon a person, not a gender. To me, that's why being bi is: having the ability to fall for people, regardless of their sex. Lyrics always say it best: “I just don't care whats under there.”

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sinusoid, I completely agree and I feel like there are way too many people who hold this same belief. I am not bi, but it still irks me every time someone (including one of my otherwise-extremely-openminded suitemates) says something to discredit bisexuality.

How do you typically go about reacting to these people and how would you propose we non-bis go about defending/explaining the existence and validity of bisexuality? I've really never had a good way to react to these kinds of comments besides something lame like 'that's not true' and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that this type of reaction is flawed, I also understand where the perception comes from. For many that hold this belief, it may come from general ignorance; however, I think it's also supported by witnessed behavior. I know in my experience, when first coming out to my parents, I introduced it as bisexuality. And at the time, I genuinely thought that I was interested in both. Up until then, I had dated boys and felt attracted to them. It was only once I met "the girl" that everything shifted. That's not to say I hadn't experienced girl crushes or fantasies before then, but those feelings had never displaced those I had for guys.

Now, it's been 6 years since I came out to my parents. In that time, I've dated numerous girls, and have come to the realization that I'm really not into guys. This was not something that developed quickly, or something that I was entirely confident of until being with a guy after a stint of girl relationships. My point is, it took me a good amount of time to realize who I was and what I wanted. But, on the way, I was equally confident in the feelings of bisexuality I had then. I think a lot of people "questioning" do go through a period where they may identify as bi only because they haven't had the experience to figure themselves out. This is in no way a justification of your mother's attitude or those like it, but I guess a way to reframe it. If many of that do end up being gay have a bi phase, it makes sense that a third party (who does not have any gay tendencies) would assume that is a natural way of transition. Granted, it's still totally frustrating and I empathize...but I think bisexuality is confusing for both heteros and those that do end up being gay; it's both a legitimate orientation AND a transitional period for others.

sophia said...

I'll always be proud of those lyrics.

Mariana said...

Lovin the lyrics.