11 October 2010

National Coming Out Day

I know I owe y'all updates from Dover and Kansas Speedway, but today is National Coming Out Day, so I want to focus today's blog post on that instead.

Most of you know that I identify as bisexual. What a lot of you don't know is my journey. In recognition of NCOD, I wanted to take some time to document that. Usually on this day, I make a list of all of the things I am (a domestic violence survivor, a rape/incest survivor, a queer, etc.), but this seems more important, especially given recent current events in this country.

Whenever my friends and I play "first tv crush," mine is always Jo from "The Facts of Life," played by Nancy McKeon. She was attractive, she was tough, and she worked on cars (what more could I ask for?) Meanwhile, all of my female friends in school were crushing on Ricky Schroder and Kirk Cameron. Hmmm. One of these things is not like the other.

Throughout school, there were guys who I was interested in (I distinctly remember getting yelled at for kissing Mike G's arm on a field trip), and my mom was convinced that Scott from across the street and I would get married some day since we hung out all the time and seemed pretty inseparable for a couple of years.

Meanwhile, there were still girls and female celebrities that caught my eye. Confusing.

One night, I was at my grandma's house and we were watching "The Women of Brewster Place," and the old man accused two women of being lesbians. I asked grandma what lesbians are, and she replied curtly and with disdain, "It's two women who love each other." "Oh! So you and mom are lesbians!" "NO. We. Are. Not!" Con-fu-sing!

When I got to undergrad, I started dating guys, so I decided I must be hetero. It's just that I just also appreciated how attractive women are. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that, right? But by the time I moved to Philly and started law school, I decided that I had been wrong all along and I must be a lesbian. I was just way too attracted and interested in women to be straight.

So I started coming out as a lesbian. It didn't go over too well with Mom, so I kind crept back into the closet with her and we just pretended like that day hadn't happened. But my friends rolled with it. I mean, hell - I was at Temple Law School at the time. If liberal law school peeps couldn't handle it, who could? But then it was hard because I was still attracted to guys, and I felt like I was always having to hide that. Or having to keep it a secret that I had dated guys before. Or when talking to lesbians, I'd do the whole, "You know, the guys I dated before I figured it out" thing and we'd laugh and they'd go "Oh yeah, I've been there, too - ha ha ha."

See, I'd only ever heard the term "bisexual" once in my life. It was at an undergrad cast party (one of my minors is in theatre), and it was in context of "I know you're interested in that guy, but you should stay away from him because he's BISEXUAL." I really had no idea what it meant (other than that he had sex with both men and women), but it was clearly BAD and EVIL and something to be avoided at all costs. And if YOU were bisexual, people would want to avoid you, too.

Fast forward several years. I've dropped out of law school, I'm miserable because I'm a Southern Baptist-raised girl whose lesbian-identified but really like guys and is convinced she's going to Hell either way, since God only wants straight people in Heaven. Enter a wonderful therapist, stage right. We got the religious issue righted pretty quickly, but then we focused on the sexual orientation issue since that one was more frustrating, confusing, and persistent. She suggested that I may be bisexual. I suggested she was insane. She asked me if I knew what bisexuality was. I told her not really, but I knew it wasn't anything I was. She told me when I was ready to discuss it, I should let her know.

Eventually, through a lot of talking with her and with some really great friends, I came to understand what bisexuality is, and I understood that I am, in fact, bisexual.

I have since come out to the people who are most important to me in my life as bi. And that is my coming out story.

A slight aside: For anyone who has yet to visit the "It Gets Better" project started by Dan Savage to encourage LGBTQ youth after the recent suicides of several teens who were the victims of homophobia (why are bullshitting ourselves and calling it "bullying"?), go be inspired here.

No comments:

Post a Comment