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My first #BiVisibilityDay out the closet - a reflection on 10 years of denial and hiding



Today is Bisexual Visibility Day. A day where bisexuals (and other non-monosexual identities) gather together to shout loudly and proudly about their sexual orientation. Remind people that we exist. That it wasn't a phase. That we're #stillbisexual even if we're in a monogamous relationship. That we're just as queer as the L and the G part of the acronym.

However, 2018 is the first year I'll be celebrating. Because at this point last year I was still doing what I had been doing for many years prior: fondly looking over at the proudly out bisexuals who were sharing their experiences on Twitter while I still sat in my closet.

But little did I know, that 12 months ago I was just under a month from the day that I would be ready to come out. Somewhere in October 2017 I had the moment in my kitchen where my brain finally snapped and I decided that I was done hiding. That night I went back up to my room, opened my dating apps, and switched them all over to say bisexual (and have kept them that way ever since).

I still wasn't 'properly' out until a few months later when I would start dating a girl. I didn't want to do a big coming out - I wanted to do it in a way that felt natural, the way we would all come out in an ideal world, where we mention it in passing. I can count on the one hand the amount of people I made a point of officially telling. A month after that night I ranted on this very blog about why Joss Whedon shouldn't direct Batgirl - using his past biphobia in Buffy as a reason - and mentioned my sexual orientation in passing. It was the first time I publicly stated it, and it was casual af.

To make it clear: I have nothing against people coming out in a flamboyant manner. We're all different and have to make the choice that is right for ourselves. The problem lies with a society that puts non-heteros in a position where they have to think about how to come out in the fucking first place. I long for the day when we don't have to come out, when heterosexuality is no longer seen as the default.

My decision wasn't a snap one though, it had been a long time coming. I had known I wasn't hetero since the middle of high school, when a particular girl two years above me stood out. I can even remember the day I first encountered the word bisexual (it was in the pages of Sugar Magazine back in the very early 00s). The first place I was ever out was online, on a few message boards. I even occasionally switched the sexual orientation box on MySpace to say bisexual - but would change it back quickly after - just to see how it felt. I didn't even fill out my orientation on Facebook. I just left it blank (so, technically, I never lied about my sexuality).

Like almost everyone, I decided I would come out after school - but I chickened out. The reason why was biphobia and a lack of self-confidence. I knew about biphobia and the negative stereotypes that surrounded bisexuals - but I wasn't aware of how prevalent it was. It was prevalent in people I knew. One of my first university friends said "bisexuals are just greedy" and uni flatmate said "I think bisexuals are just straight girls looking for attention, or lesbians in denial".

But I did come out to one person within the year I left school: my first boyfriend. His reaction didn't help. Instead of responding with supportive phrases like "I'm glad you told me", "I'm here for you", "bisexuality is valid" or "do you want help coming out to other people?". I got met with gleaming wide-eyes as he put on a provocative voice and whispered "oooh, Morag likes girls - that's hot". He didn't register that I just came out to him, and instead put his penis at the centre of the conversation.

We even went long distance for a while, and spoke about an open relationship - but he only wanted me sleeping with girls. Clearly he didn't feel threatened by the odd lesbian fling. Men? Nah. Too much of a threat to the relationship. There was no way in hell I'd actually leave him for a women because, remember, bisexual women really just want men at the end of the day amiright? And when we eventually broke up he used male pronouns to describe potential future partners. The idea that I could fall in love and choose a woman as a life partner didn't occur to him.

Over the years that followed I came out to a few of the men of my past. Every single time it was the same. I was a sexually adventurous straight girl who might give them a threesome. Not a bisexual woman capable of deep romantic love for someone of the same sex.

And between all these shitty comments, I began to believe them. Maybe it was just a fantasy I needed to get out my system. Maybe I was just a slut. Maybe I'm not capable of loving a woman. At that point I'd never been romantically involved with a woman. But now I know that the reason I hadn't experienced an all-consuming crush on a woman was because I had never given it a chance.

Then within the past two years I began to accept it within myself again, just as I had once done as a teenager. Bisexuality was hitting the headlines. Cara Delevigne was a big turning point for me (and if you happen to be reading this Cara: call me, I fancy you to death). As was the bisexual character Sara Lance in the Arrowverse. And when Ingrid Nilson came out as gay, I realised that it wasn't too late and there's nothing wrong with coming out in your late 20s (which was a fear that had began to rise in me as the years ticked on). Plus, the book Ethical Slut (which is amazing and should be read by everyone) reminded me that all forms of bisexuality are valid and it's not always 50/50.

But my final breakthrough came in October 2017, in my kitchen. I had recently made the decision to clean up my friends group. The reason for this had nothing to do my sexuality and was a whole other separate reason. But as I flipped through the names of the people who I did want to keep in my life I realised that I had nothing to fear anymore. I knew 100% in my heart that these people would still love me, would not fetish me, would not roll their eyes, and would not ask if I was sure.

Prior to that clear-up, I wasn't friends with brash homophones. But there were guys who would perve over girls kissing in night clubs. Girls who treated gay men like shopping toys, rather than people. Or gay people who vowed to never date a bisexual. Or straights who would say "oh, a ladies man already" at a three-year-old boy who does nothing more than smile at a girl. No one was a far-right bigot who wanted to deny LGBT+ people basic human rights, but were lefties who discriminate in lesser ways (and are still part of the problem).

It is scary to be yourself in a world that is telling you not to be. But coming out taught me that it's less scary to do so when the people you love have your back. To the people I didn't clear out last October - and to those who have joined my life since then - I am eternally grateful for your open-mindedness, commitment to social justice, and having the emotional intelligence to know how to respond when someone comes out to you (especially when that person spent over a decade in the closet). I could never put my gratitude into words.

If you are either a guy I dated in the past who I came out to, or someone who got cleared out last October - I don't mean any of these words with hate. I know you're also part of a toxic heteronormative social dialogue, and not one of you ever meant to make me feel unsafe coming out or deny my true sexual orientation to myself. I know you support LGBT+ rights, but were never given the tools to do it properly. Treat this as a learning curve to do better. We could all be doing better, myself included.

So Happy Bisexual Visibility Day - and to one year of being out! Let's paint the town pink, purple and blue.

All my love,
Morag x

P.S. If you are still in the closet, take your time. Your confusion is valid. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be out by the end of 2017 and dating a girl by spring, I would have laughed. It took me a decade to get there, but I got there. You can too.
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