Growing up I always found women attractive, but I didn’t realize I was bisexual until I was 21… You may think to yourself, “how does that work?” but it’s a much simpler answer than you think. I simply didn’t know being into women like I was into men was an option. I grew up watching movies like every kid and when Pirates of the Caribbean came around I thought to myself, “Orlando Bloom is hot… but also Keira Knightly…..?”
I faced a similar scenario that many bisexual people face, I was able to ignore, or in my case just not understand, my feelings towards women. Many bisexual people conform to straight standards throughout their life simply because they can. It wasn’t until college when I saw other femme women identifying as bisexual or gay that it really crossed my mind this was something I could identify as.
I went to a sports academy for high school, so the school was small to begin with, and there wasn’t a single (out of the closet) LGBTQ+ person in attendance. So my bisexuality wasn’t something I even began to consider until I attended college and I saw there were more identities than just being attracted to men.
“I hesitated to identify as bisexual because I had never actually been in relationship with a woman”
After my boyfriend and I broke up my junior year in college I began to try to explore my bisexuality. Some days talking about being attracted to women felt performative, sometimes it felt so incredibly right. I hesitated to identify as bisexual because I had never actually been in relationship with a woman and I felt as a privileged cis white woman it wasn’t my place to take up space in the LGBTQ+ community, especially if I hadn’t even dated a woman yet.
After a couple encounters with women I very hesitantly began identifying as bisexual, sharing with close friends these feelings. I was incredibly lucky to have a very supportive group of friends to come out to and feel safe in from the start. This would be especially comforting given what happened next.
My first year of law school I decided to come out to my parents. It had been two years since I had first started identifying as bisexual and I felt more confident in this identity. I come from an intensely conservative and catholic extended family so I was nervous that there would be some strong negative reactions when I ultimately shared my sexuality. On the other hand, I am incredibly close with my parents, so while I had no idea exactly how they would react, I knew I wouldn’t be kicked out of my immediate family.
“they didn’t accept me for everything I was telling them I was”
I came out to my parents on my thanksgiving break when I was home from law school. The best way to describe their reaction is somewhere in the middle. They didn’t kick me out of the house, they didn’t say they didn’t love me anymore, and they didn’t call me names or question my character. But they were disappointed, and they didn’t accept me for everything I was telling them I was.
Their reaction to my coming out initially was back in 2016 so because I wasn’t in a relationship with a woman at the time, they could sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn’t exist. When I started dating Rachel it was a different story. Now they had to acknowledge my sexuality and it was not going well. Their disapproval came in lots of small ways and actions that nonetheless hurt Rachel and I.
It’s been 3 years now since I first came out. These three years have been filled with many heated conversations and disappointing moments, but now my parents accept me for who I am and who I love. I am lucky because I am extremely close to my parents so when I came out and they expressed disapproval we were eventually able to work through why they were feeling this way. Sometimes it’s still a struggle, but I know they love Rachel and I.
I didn’t end up coming out to my entire family until after I started dating Rachel. There are some people in my family who outright disapprove of us and probably won’t attend our wedding if we ever get married. But there are others in my family who I thought would shun us and have accepted us with open arms and love.
Overall, I think I had a similar experience to many others in the LGBTQ+ community, not quite acceptance, not outright hostility. Sometimes it’s hard living in that middle ground, you can’t cut off your family because things aren’t that bad, but you also don’t feel you can be 100% yourself.
“just because you’re not facing open hostility doesn’t mean you can’t feel hurt”
I know I’m lucky to have a relationship with my family still, but to all those that experienced a similar coming out process, you’re not alone and just because you’re not facing open hostility doesn’t mean you can’t feel hurt or angry when you don’t have whole-hearted acceptance. Ultimately, I’m grateful to be able to live my life and love authentically, and the process of getting here, while difficult at times, was incredibly worth it.
Edited by Aislinn O'Keeffe