When one of my oldest, closest friends came out to me as transgender, I immediately resolved to become the best transgender ally I could be. Preferred pronouns, how to be of help, how to introduce him to people—I tried to do as much research and become as well versed as I could for him. I kept trying even after I messed up his pronouns within the first thirty seconds of him coming out to me.
I was really happy for him, and wanted to learn how to be a powerful ally during his coming out.
Since high school, when we met, we’ve always seen ourselves as allies to the LGBTQ community, even when we only knew about the “L” and the “G.”
When you grow up in suburban North Texas, where the average family is Caucasian and southern Baptist, complete with 2.5 kids, a golden retriever, and a white picket fence—okay, and maybe a few cows, too—coming out as different isn’t easy.
Our small group of friends seemed to attract every kid in town who fell somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum, and we prided ourselves on being “progressive” where the rest of our town fell short. Granted, at the time, we didn’t have much understanding or TV representation other than Will & Grace or The L Word.
As a result, we really only thought you could be heterosexual or homosexual.
Once, in the hallway, I heard “Bisexual? That’s not a thing. They’re just scared to be totally gay.” Oh, did we have much to learn.
And that was why, when listening to one of my best friends from high school come out to me as transgender earlier this year, I started to think of how far we had come in accepting ourselves.
Except for me, that is. I felt like I was lying by omission to the rest of the world. Because I—a 25-year-old woman engaged to a man—am bisexual.
And actually, I’ve known for more than a decade. I never jolted out of bed one morning in a flurry of rainbows and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I’m into women too.” There was never an exact moment when I realized that my attraction to that girl in my AP U.S. History class was more than just thinking she was a cute person.
My attraction to women has casually been there for as long as I’ve been into men.
I’ve always referred to myself as curved—not entirely straight, just curvy. But when I got engaged, I couldn’t help but wonder if my engagement meant I had to metaphorically turn in my bi card, as if I never had the right to truly call myself bisexual.
The answer is no, it doesn’t. One’s sexuality is, ultimately, nobody’s business but one’s own. The reason I don’t tell a lot of people I’m into both men and women is that, really, it shouldn’t matter to them.
But I’ve also come to realize how much my comfort level with coming out has been impacted by bi erasure and misconceptions about the bisexual community. For years, I didn’t think I even had a right to come out as bisexual because people would think, as they do of most young women who do so, that I was “just doing it for the attention.”
It still shocks me that some people think I’m faking attraction to women just for male attention.
The reality is, my fiancé isn’t going to stop being straight when he becomes permanently committed to one woman, just like I’m not going to stop being bi when I marry him.
As far as I can tell, bisexual humans are unmistakably, anticlimactically normal. And I know there are more of us out there than we realize.
Even at my engagement party, I spoke with two female friends (who I’d previously assumed to be straight—hey, even I’m still learning) tell me they had both had relationships with women, too. I was floored! Why weren’t we able to be open with each other about this?
Just how many of us bisexuals are out there?
So if I truly want to be a good ally to the community, I have to also be an ally to myself. Yes, I need to learn the proper terminology for my transgender friends, and learn their preferred pronouns, and what not to say or ask.
Yes, I need to develop clear and sound arguments against those who firmly believe in denying same-sex couples basic rights.
But for me, being a good ally also means that I need to be honest with myself about who I am.
And I hope that by coming out as bisexual, I can help pave the way for others to feel comfortable doing the same.
Together, we can normalize what many see as unusual or unnatural, and make it easier for others to come out. We can embrace our curves.
Photo via flickr user comeonandorra