I’m Coming Out
I’m guessing that many people are unaware that today — September 23, 2023 — is Celebrate Bisexuality Day. It arrives as the culmination of Bisexual Awareness Week, or #BiWeek. In fact, the entire month of September is dedicated to bisexual identity, relationships, community, and health.
In other words, it’s the perfect day for me to share publicly for the first time my sexual identity as a cis-gendered bisexual male, taking my place as the B in LGBT with my Lesbian sisters and between my Gay and Trans brothers and sisters.
As one might imagine, this has been an evolution. When I turned 50 in 2009, I considered myself proudly straight, monogamous, and very vanilla. Today I’m proudly bisexual, polyamorous, and a practitioner of BDSM in the form of “sacred kink.” I’ll write more about the latter two at another time. But let’s focus on today.
Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three bisexual rights activists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur of Texas. Noting their common affection for Queen lead singer and known bisexual Freddie Mercury, they decided to set the date during Mercury’s birth month, with the 23rd being Raven Wilbur’s birthday. The day was first officially observed in 1999 at the International Lesbian and Gay Association Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The founders acted because they felt compelled to shed light on a community that had been left in the dark by both LGBTQ+ people and the community at large. This is ironic given that a recent Gallup Poll found that more than half of LGBT Americans (57%) indicate they are bisexual. That percentage translates to 4.0% of all U.S. adults. Meanwhile, 21% of LGBT Americans say they are gay, 14% lesbian, 10% transgender and 4% something else. Each of these accounts for less than 2% of U.S. adults.
In fact, bisexuals are the ‘invisible majority’ in LGBTQ America according to a 2011 report from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, calling out a societal tendency to act as if the largest LGBTQ group didn’t exist. “The San Francisco report found that bisexuals are frequently “ignored, discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities.” Often, the entire sexual orientation is branded as invalid, immoral or irrelevant.
These prejudices persist. A 2019 study found that bisexual people experience “bi-negativity” — anti-bisexual prejudice — “from both heterosexuals and lesbian and gay individuals, as well as the LGBTQ community more broadly.” Bisexual people are stigmatized over the belief that we are “confused about [our] sexuality, or that bisexuality does not actually exist,” the study found, despite “robust evidence for bisexual orientation among men.” A study in 2021 suggests the erasure of male bisexuality is common — even among lesbian and gay individuals.
Certainly, in my experience, bisexual men are stigmatized in equal measure by people whether they’re straight, monogamous, sex-positive, or members of the LGBTQ+ community. Each of my ex-wives weaponized my bisexuality in our divorces. The first was at least understandable given the length of our marriage. The second was more egregious since I came out to her when we first met. It’s common to find Swingers profiles celebrating female bisexuality while including admonitions of “No Bi Men!” People in the kink community try to label me as “Pan” or “Queer,” neither of which speaks to me.
This stigma has serious implications. For one, there are countless men who are so ashamed of their urges and orientation that they cannot bring themselves to talk openly and honestly with their wives and partners but instead are on the DL (Down Low). I know I could barely spit out the words at first.
This secrecy has a direct impact on health outcomes. Almost 40% of bisexual men reported not disclosing their sexual orientation to any medical provider (my female doctor was great when I told her years ago) and face striking rates of poor health outcomes ranging from cancer and obesity to sexually transmitted infections to mental health problems.
So, you may wonder, why now? First and foremost, it’s simply time. I’ve reached the point in my life (64 and a half at the end of the month) in which I am finally able to fully own the person I am. And I’m proud of it. There is no longer any need to hide.
Second, my hope is that others will be motivated to join me in claiming who they are. There is always more strength in numbers, and I welcome you with open arms.
Third, I am aware that I don’t look like the stereotype most people think of when the words “bisexual, polyamorous, and kinky” are used in a description. Perhaps this will provide some with a chance to reflect.
And finally, it’s a way of disarming anyone tempted to “spill my secret” to my loved ones and friends so they learn the information from someone other than me.
In preparation for today, I shared this news with my family. They were united in their love and acceptance, my sons starting with, “Yeah, kinda knew” or “Yeah, figured that,” and all ending by saying how happy they are for me. It is a beautiful, wonderful experience to be embraced and appreciated for who and how I am.
While I hope this will not be the case, I am prepared to be judged and lose some friends over this announcement. I have no control over this. At the same time, I trust those who know and care about me will be accepting.
There’s no feeling quite like the sense of freedom and joy I feel right now in saying these words out loud. Thank you for listening.
#CelebrateBisexuality #BiWeek #Bisexuality #LGBT #LGBTQ+