When I was in second grade who I had the biggest crush on this girl in my art class named Chelsea. One day after school, she pulled me aside to the end of a hallway near a stairway and kissed me on the cheek. I was surprised when she told me that she liked me too. I didn’t expect it at all. This was great news though. The only down side was that she transferred schools shortly after.
I found out years later that she moved because she told her parents that she had a crush on a girl. I didn’t know that kissing a girl if you are a girl was such a big deal. I just thought kids could like each other and whoever they wanted. I mean, I also liked boys so what did it matter if I liked girls too? At the time, I thought love meant that you liked someone because they were a good person, that you liked them for being nice, thoughtful and fun to be around. But, as I got older, I learned it wasn’t that simple.
When I was going through puberty, things only got more confusing. That was when I learned that others had expectations for me. I remember starting my menstrual cycle and it being the talk of Sunday Dinner at my grandmother’s house. Everyone was saying, “Congratulations, you’re a woman now” and joking, “They grow up so fast. Next thing you know, she’ll have a boyfriend.” A boyfriend? What about a girlfriend? Why had no one just said anything general about dating? Why was it determined for me to be with a boy but not with a girl?
I spent the next few weeks masturbating, as normal 12 year old does, just to realize that I wasn’t more or less turned on by a woman or a man. It was still about the same. I couldn’t shake that I really liked both genders. I started to believe that something might be wrong with me. What caused me to be different? One day I was home from school and I plopped down in front of the living room TV to turn on the Tyra Banks show. One of my favorite talk shows at the time. On this particular episode, she had a guest – a 16 year old girl who was bisexual. I was like, “a what?” This episode ended up asking and answering all of the questions I didn’t even know I had yet. This was a revelation! “I’M BISEXUAL!” I screamed in my head bursting with joy. I was so happy to have learned something new about myself and that I wasn’t alone. There were people out there like me. I didn’t have to have a boyfriend. I could have a girlfriend. And that’s all I really wanted to know, if I had a choice or not.
So, I went to school the next day feeling confident. I was ready to share my discovery with some of my closest friends. I pulled them aside halfway through the day, and explained to them the new word and concept that I learned. They were so interested in it too. I was relieved that they were supportive and didn’t think I was weird. The only thing that mad this decision to tell my friends complicated was that, of course, they told other people. Then the rumors started about how I was a “slut” and had “5 different boyfriends” and “if you needed some practice, to call Brittany.” Just great, my social life was over. Not that I had much of one to begin with. So, after all this happened, I decided to stay to myself until graduation and then prayed that everyone would forgot and high school would be better.
Then, my worries dissolved. My mom packed us up and we moved out of state. I went from being in the suburbs of Long Island, New York to being in the country side of Fairburn, Georgia. During my first week of high school, I saw a handful of pregnant girls and was extremely concerned. Why were there so many of them? Is everyone here having sex? Are these girls getting raped? Somebody should do something. Those were my thoughts that ran through my head as a new student from a completely different part of the country. So, again, I stayed to myself and minded my business… Until one day in my computer class… I don’t know how we got on the topic but we ended up discussing gay rights (this is before the politically correct LGBTQIA acronym was established [circa 2009]). This class was an elective course so the student were from all grades. It was also one of the longest class periods for blocked lunch groups which was almost 2 hours. We spent a good hour talking about this topic. So, when I could I took this as the opportunity to come out to my classmates. I raised my hand and when the teacher called on me, I stood up and said, “I’m bisexual.” I got mixed reactions. Some people didn’t know what that meant (mostly Georgians), some people supported me and cheered me on (these sisters from Florida and classmates from Baltimore and California), and the others just didn’t care. I realized that people weren’t really bothered by it and I got positive feedback. I was proud of myself.
When it comes to family, I haven’t technically told anyone except for my older siblings, but I think everybody else either knows, doesn’t care, or really has no clue. For some reason, I never saw it necessary to bring it up. If complete strangers didn’t judge me when I came out, why would my own family? The only person that I think would have been judgmental is my mother. She agrees that the gay community should have their rights and be able to love who they want but yet she always illustrated disgust when sharing her thoughts on “switch hitters” which was her code for “bisexuals”. So, I definitely hid it from her on purpose. I didn’t need the negativity, nor did I want it.
The most memorable coming out, was the official talk I had with my older sister. It was at Epcot Center in Disney World for my 16th birthday/her 21st birthday. We separated from our mom and had lunch together at the Italy Pavillion. That day I learned my sister is bisexual too. So, we had a whole conversation about what being bi means to us, how we see love, and types of relationships. We even talked about marriage. My sister asked me if I would marry a woman and I said yes. Two years later, I almost did when I was engaged to my best friend from New Orleans but it didn’t work out successfully; [whispers] she cheated on me.
Ten years later and that answer hasn’t changed. Some people have this idea or notion that bisexuals are not monogamous, are indecisive about who they want to be with and/or that they’re just experimenting with sex and having fun, but that’s not true. Not for all of us. The relationships you experience in life will vary because the people you met in life vary. No one person is the same as an other. It is important to have conversations with your significant other (regardless of your sexuality) that discuss and share your expectations on what kind of relationship you’re looking for because not everyone is monogamous or polyamorous or polygamous. We’re all different and that’s okay.
Looking back on all these memories of my coming out, I am proud of the person I’ve become. I accepted my sexuality from a young age and I wasn’t afraid to be myself. I like men, I like women and apparently I’m different but I’m normal because I’m bisexual and I’m monogamous. And, I don’t care what other people think. My happiness is what matters. If they don’t like it, they can leave.
Closing Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC Pride and Global Pride will be hosted indoors. Check out the HRC website for more details about #PrideInside