Reactions

The first person I ever admitted my same sex attraction to probably doesn’t even remember it. To me, it was the very first tippy-toe step in a journey that wouldn’t end in my coming out for years. To him, I suspect it was a throwaway comment meant to intrigue.

The moment is crystalized in my mind. He was driving, and I was in the passenger seat. We weren’t especially close in high school or now, but for a brief period in between we found ourselves alone once or twice and developed a sort of friendship. I trusted him implicitly, perhaps projecting that he shared some of my confusion. His reaction was one of such non-reaction that afterwards I’d wondered if I even said anything about it at all. It was almost as if I’d said something about considering naming purple as my new favorite color instead of considering radically changing how I presented to the world. It was exhilarating and yet completely anticlimactic at the same time.

Since then, I’ve been coming out in incremental degrees to people of all sorts. My parents, my siblings, friends, acquaintances, the occasional coworker, et cetera. And that thoroughly unimpressed reaction has become almost completely singular in my experience. On one hand I can count the people who truly made me feel like “the news” did not change the fundamental framework of who I am as a person to them. I don’t blame people for any other response; I can understand why people would ask me questions about my slightly unusual sexuality just like those I receive about having red hair and a Latino heritage. It generally comes from a place of genuine attempts at empathy and wanting to understand the how and why. It’s just nice when someone just gets it. They hear “bisexual” and automatically add it to the mental dossier of things they know about you and move on, casually integrating it into your interactions in a way that makes you feel accepted without making a big fuss.

Over time, I’ve come to categorize the reactions I receive and have listed a few below. I again need to reiterate that it’s my pleasure to answer questions that come from a genuine and loving place, even if the words said mirror those I lambast below. I do my very best to remember Hanlon’s razor and to “never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by [completely understandable and soon to be fixed] stupidity.” I’m also incredibly lucky to have never quite experienced the full force of in-your-face biphobia I know to exist in both the “gay” and “straight” worlds. I generally don’t mention my bisexuality in the “real world” at all unless it comes up naturally, and those sort of people don’t tend to bring up bisexuality at all. The online dating world is a whole other ball of wax fraught with assumptions and entitlements I don’t even want to touch right now; this is specifically for telling people that already know me in some small or large capacity.

*Gasp* “Does your boyfriend know?”

Because I happened to be dating a man when the bulk of my coming out process took place, this one was probably happens to me the most and irks me the most. For one, why would I be telling you before I told my primary partner? This is information that is much more relevant to him than it is to you, since he needs to know that my sexual interests include him. Perhaps there are some people that come out to random people at a party before telling their partner, but the logic here isn’t solid if they’ve been dating any time at all and have any sort of semblance of a healthy, trusting relationship. As a first reaction, saying this just makes me feel as though that person defers to the opinion of the man closest to me before knowing how to react. I want to yell, “No, this is about ME, not about HIM [as much as I dearly love him].”

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone!”

Yeah, I got this one once from a coworker I really didn’t know so well. Him saying this made me instantly regret my super casual mention of a girl I used to like. We were off the clock at lunch, and this was a tentative foray into becoming friends. Here I was, trying to show how cool and comfortable I was mentioning my sexuality near a workplace for one of the first times. Then getting the closet door slammed in my face. I had to then tiptoe around, “no, you can tell people. I mean, don’t just tell everyone indiscriminately…” while trying not to be upset that there was the plain assumption that since I’m not visibly queer, I must be in the closet.

“Yeah, I can see that.”

This is the one I like almost as much as the “huh, okay” type of reaction. I remember a sorority sister who said exactly this, and when pressed, cocked her head to the side and thoughtfully followed with, “because you always seemed so…free, I guess?” It’s possible that she was just affectionately calling me a slut, but I chose to think that she could see through my femme exterior and past relationships with men and know that the drunken make out she’d once witnessed me have with a girl was something real for me. That maybe I wasn’t as invisible as I’d feared. That if she could see it without me having to spell it out, maybe I could talk to women  romantically without having to wave a rainbow flag in their face.

All these little moments are likely forgettable for the person I shared them with, especially those with the reactions I most treasure. But I keep these moments, from the first to the last, in a little box where I can take them out and hold them in my heart in times of need. Those moments where I let them in, just a little, and the reactions mirrored the acceptance I had to give myself.

 

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Shifting Sands of Identity

I suppose I should give some context for this. I went to see the great Neil Gaiman give a talk this weekend. He is one of my very favorite authors as well as one of my most favorite people. Only the tiniest amount of my affection for him spawns from the fact that he is in an open relationship with his wife Amanda Palmer. So much about what he said resonated deeply with me and the person I want to be. It was a lovely mixture of him reading from his book Trigger Warning, telling some stories from his life, and answering some submitted fan questions.

One of his stories he read was a piece he wrote for his friend Ray Bradbury on his 90th (or perhaps it was his 91st) birthday. The story was called “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury.” Gaiman admitted that at the time of writing the piece, he was working through “what was happening” to his close friend Terry Pratchett, who was on the decline from Alzheimer’s. My own grandfather is currently suffering a similar fate. The story was a beautifully simple one about losing chunks of your memory like one loses things to an inconsiderate roommate; you notice most the empty hole where that thing has been, and you hope that all you’ve lost are the things whose holes you’ve bothered to notice.

The story got me thinking about the nature of identity. I think of my child self as a sponge, a sort of proto-me who was tasked with the collection of the chunks that I’d later use to piece together my identity.  As a teenager, I was very self aware of the changes my body and mind were undergoing and the chaos ensuing inside. I remember becoming irrationally upset at a small hiccups. I logically knew that, say, my friend forgetting to call was not a thing to cry over. But cry I did with reckless abandon. Emotions came too strongly and too quickly to really do much about. All the carefully stacked ingredients I’d gathered were swept up in the sandstorm of hormones and reactions and self doubt. It was all I could do to judge myself against the others around me in an attempt to re-orient myself. This, it turns out, didn’t lead to much substance.

Even through college, it was tempting to let yourself be defined by your “one thing.” I could let others see me as the “sorority girl” or the “college radio DJ,” the “tutor of underprivileged students” or the “library worker.” The worst offender was college major. It’s the first question asked in every class, club meeting, and party. And mine changed. Not once or twice either. I just couldn’t figure out my thing. The thing that would sum me up to whatever inquiring mind wished to know me. Even my ethnic name offered an identity that my pale, freckled face and red hair could not fit.

I suppose this is why, when I figured out my bisexuality, I was okay with it being my “thing.” At least for a while. Though it is one simple word and in theory a simple concept, it feels like it envelopes the part of me that can’t quite be pinned down. It’s about finally being comfortable not fitting into the box of heteronormativity or even monosexuality. But it’s not quite right either.

I want a moment to appreciate the labels. Yes, they can be used for bad. Used as a shortcut to “know” how another will act or look. But they can be incredibly validating as well. For me, it was about choosing a label for my identity, but knowing that the label can mean completely different things for different people, and knowing that the label doesn’t define every aspect of your life. It isn’t a shortcut to knowing who I am, though it is woven into my being.

My identity has been feeling more and more like it’s moving under me. Like it’s always in flux. I can look back at the choices I’ve made from even two years ago and feel completely alien to the person who made them. I try to grasp onto any constants I have, but I get that terrifying sink that you get in a dream where you want to run but you just…can’t. Once you’ve figured out the landscape of the dunes, they’re blown into a new configuration, sometimes with some new bits revealed under those same old grains.

And what’s the point of trying all that hard, really, when it can all be ripped from your mind by time or disease or even death? When you’re done chasing the answer through life and the shifting sands underneath your feet has been blown away, what do you have left to define yourself by? Does it matter? Does it matter that you spent your life carefully choosing this label or that to package yourself up in?

Maybe that high school version of me had one thing right. Maybe it does matter how you relate to others. After you’re gone, after all, how will anyone know you if you haven’t told them, through words or through actions? In Gaiman’s story, the protagonist theorizes that God tasks each person with remembering one thing. Each person is in charge of that one bit of knowledge so that nothing is lost. But our man, losing bits of his memory, is worried that he’s gone and forgotten his piece. He remembers around it; he remembers a tale about the burning of books and the importance of the knowledge within. But he just can’t remember that name, the name he knows he’s always had right there amidst that cluster of information. If Bradbury hadn’t gone and written that story in his head or put a title to that book, the name would be all there was to remember (and later, to forget).

Perhaps, then, identity is an action. It lives beneath your skin, but can only be defined by how it works on the world around it. It doesn’t matter who we love, but how we love. The impact on others is all that will be left once our brains stop reminding us of who we’ve decided to be. In all honesty, that’s part of the reason I write this. To remind myself of the person I am at twenty-three. It’s the same reason I journaled throughout my childhood and teenage years, and why I regret not writing anything other than papers in college. If identity is a thing you do, I hope I’m doing it right. I hope that continuing to try to scoop and define and package it on the inside translates to some good on the outside. I guess I’ll just have to keep doing it to find out.

Trying to Be Seen: Bi Visibility Day 2015

Wednesday was Bi Visibility Day. It seems to have crept up and gone by fairly unnoticed, even by my fellow queer people. If I did not follow the bisexual subreddit, I probably wouldn’t have known about it. But I’m glad I did. This was the first year I knew about it at all! Even though it was a work night, I wanted to celebrate in some small way.

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with some former coworkers for drinks. None of us worked at the old company any more, and it was nice to catch up and poke fun at the less-than-stellar workplace we had all survived. After some crack at the attractiveness of a person in the office, it came out that I was bi. Most of the table was already aware of this fact except for the girl sitting right across from me. It’s getting easier and easier to say or hear the words out loud, but something still catches in the back of my throat whenever someone new finds out that I like anything other than straight men. Especially a woman. Thankfully, Monique immediately gushed that she too was interested in women, but was having trouble locating the “scene” in the area and finding girls who liked girls to date. In the bar, we downloaded the app Her. It had nothing but rave reviews from the queer women forums I frequent, but I had been hesitant to set up a profile as a bi woman in a non monogamous relationship with a man. I didn’t want to invade on what I perceived to be a lesbian-looking-for-monogamy space. When I viewed the profiles in our area through Monique’s phone, however, I saw that this was not the case and took the plunge myself. I also offered to show Monique the gay bar in our area and take her to the Lady’s Night that happens every Wednesday. She enthusiastically agreed, and I felt a small amount of pride for being able to help another bi woman find her way into the queer community. I don’t know any other women who identify as “bisexual.” I know a few who choose “queer,” as well as a few lesbians, but having someone on my team made me feel less alone.

We made plans for the first Wednesday we both had available, and I realized on Tuesday that this would align with Bi Visibility Day. I excitedly reminded her of our plans, and she confirmed with me. Come the night of the 23rd, however, she cancelled, citing tiredness from work. The bubble of excitement I’d been inflating all day popped. I had worn my subtlety pride-colored shirt and the pink-purple-blue necklace to work, but didn’t feel like I had made myself any more visible today than usual. The shirt is in my normal rotation of work clothing, and I wear the necklace with regularity since receiving it in a recent Reddit gift exchange. I opened up the Her app to see what other women were posting about their Bi Visibility activities. I was gladdened by the official Bi Visibility Day logo at the top of the app feed, but did not see much else about it. I was considering posting about the bar’s Lady’s Night when I saw that someone else already had.

“Anyone down for girls night at [bar] tonight? It’s 18+” – Catarina

I replied, and we made plans to meet at the bar. From her profile, I saw that she was a lesbian studying abroad from Australia with soft, inviting eyes and brown, straight hair framing smooth olive skin and a playful smirk. She was five years my junior, but I was intrigued. I ordered my ride on my phone before I could convince myself out of it.

At the bar, I got a drink and settled in at a table, trying my best to exude confidence and total comfort in being at a bar by myself. The dance area behind me was empty, but there was a few groups milling around the bar. I slyly investigated the people around me, but in the dim light it was hard to tell who was who. In my last message, I had told Caterina what I would be wearing, so I waited to be seen.

After twenty minutes, I decided to take a lap of the place. As I was headed towards the door, I heard my name being called from a table fifteen feet from where I had been sitting. I turned to meet Caterina and her roommate Alex, who Caterina introduced as “the supportive straight friend.” I joined them at their table and ran through the general getting-to-know-you questions as the place began to fill with people.

I couldn’t help but bring up the fact that it was Bi Visibility Day. If I couldn’t say it aloud here, to another member of the queer community, who would I be seen by? Neither women knew “that was a thing,” and I admitted that I only knew because of my subscriptions to various bi media.

“The Her app had an official feed question about it, but that was pretty much all I saw,” I continued. “A lot of gay men and lesbians don’t like to include bisexual people. Or like them at all.” I was taking the chance that Caterina was not one of that group. I figured she had glanced at my profile, and she had not recoiled on the reveal of my bisexuality.

“I don’t understand why people in the gay community insist on being against on of our own!” she said with feeling. “We get enough shit from the rest of the world without throwing it at each other.”

“Yes, thank you!” The small amount of empathy in her automatic inclusion touched me. I wondered if the gay community was different in Australia. Perhaps biphobia wasn’t a problem there. Or maybe she had just not encountered it as a lesbian. I told her a bit about coming out to my mother recently and becoming more comfortable in my identity. She shared her experience of total rejection from her parents. They had deeply snooped in her life to “catch” her as a lesbian only to reject who she was only days before she came to America.

“When you come out as bi, your parents can still can hope that you’ll end up in a straight relationship,” she sighed. My heart went out to her. I wanted to brush her hair back from her face and hug her close, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so in front of Alex, who was listening intently. A small, petty part of me wanted to tell her that I was just as likely to marry a woman as I was to marry a man, but I couldn’t. I had known others to say the same phrase in an attempt to point out the privilege I have in being able to “pass” in some of my relationships, as if I could choose who to love. As if I could shrug off my same sex attractions just to convenience myself. But she did not speak from that place. She spoke through the lens of her own recent pain of total rejection, as if she wished she could give her parents any hope at all of being the daughter they had wanted to raise.

Before I could ask her more about it, she shook off whatever emotions she was feeling and looked up to see a couple walking through the door in front of our table. They were in their mid to late forties, and dressed for a club. They entered confidently, in a way that drew attention. The woman was petite with Latino curves that were emphasized by her well fitted dress and low neckline. The man was tall and dark, wearing a black suit. His skin, eyes, and hair were all a deep brown, except for where the last greyed at the temples. His companion gently pulled his arm, and he leaned over to hear what she had to tell him. He nodded, and she made her way into the crowd of the dance floor without him. After scanning the bar area, he approached our table.

I sucked in my breath, waiting for a lecherous line. The last time I had come to this very bar on a Wednesday, I had been approached by an aggressive, pungent older man, and I was expecting more of the same.

“Do you mind if I stand at your table for a minute? My wife is using the bathroom.”

“Uh…” I started, not sure how to say ‘no.’

“Sure!” said Caterina. She leaned forward on the table, friendly and open.

‘I used to be like that,’ I realized with a slight shock. When did I get so automatically defensive? Somewhere between the fifth man not taking a hint and the fiftieth, I imagine.

The man turned out to be Danny, a pilot from New Mexico. He and his wife were just visiting the area, and had chosen this bar because of his wife’s interest in women.

“We’re swingers.” he said unabashedly.

“I’m also in a non monogamous relationship!” I blurted. It was rare that I met anyone offline that had made this sort of relationship work.

We continued to chat as his wife danced closely with multiple women on the dance floor. He revealed himself to be the same age as my mother, but I didn’t see fit to share that with him. The only time his age became a real part of the conversation was when he began asking Caterina and I about how women have sex with each other.

She patiently explained how sex can be performed without a penis, emphasizing the importance of oral sex.

“I don’t really go down on my wife any more. Is that bad? She says she doesn’t need it.”

“That means you’re bad at it!” Caterina proclaimed, laughing at him. I nodded in agreement. “What exactly are you doing?”

“Well, you know, I just go down there and lick around the outer labia, then start kissing her thigh…”

“What?!” Caterina exclaimed.

“The OUTER labia? Around…it?” I repeat, puzzled.

“How can you be forty-eight years old and not know how to give oral?” Caterina continued, sharing in my state of mystification.

“She gets off plenty!” Danny said, trying to regain some of the esteem he’d lost.

“I mean, I believe you,” I said. ‘At least I believe she tells you that,’ I added in my mind. “But you could really improve her experience if you did that…differently.”

“How?”

Caterina began to explain with such a tone of authority that I found myself leaning in to hear her explanations better over the music.

I added in the name of a video I had seen mentioned on several sex forums in which a porn star teaches the audience specific tips and tricks, and illustrates them on another women.

He listened to us, enthralled, and thanked us for our help. His wife emerged from the crowd of dancers, flushed and out of breath. Danny went to join her, thanking us again for our help and handing Caterina his card.

After dancing ourselves for the better part of the night, we waited outside for our ride-share cars. I had suggested we meet again to go to West Hollywood, a gay destination she had been wanting to visit while in America. Though I warned her against being too cavalier with her possessions, I told her of the good experiences I had there even before I turned 21. The events of the night had me seeing things through newer, less cynical eyes. I wanted to see and explore West Hollywood with someone who hadn’t before, someone who had travelled thousands of miles to see it. When their ride arrived, I hugged Caterina goodbye and waved to Alex before heading towards home, grateful that I’d decided against spending the night on my couch.

The First Girl

Woah, time flies. Between a kidney infection, wisdom teeth removal, and applying to new jobs, somehow all this time has passed! I’m working on a couple posts more about general feminist bisexual nonmonogamy, but for now I thought I’d just share my “first same sex crush” story. Every queer person I know has that crush, that first person who, by their very presence, reached into you and pulled to the forefront that part of you you’d been trying to ignore, forcing you to face that part of yourself. For some, it was their pre-K teacher. For others, it was a middle school best friend. For me, it was much later, in my third year of college. And it took the form of Natalie.

The first. All those firsts stick with me. First crush, first kiss, first “real” kiss, first date, etc. For me, I got two of each of those firsts. I explored boys in my adolescence. Then I had to go through the whole process of puberty-level awkwardness to cool, sexually confident woman again in my early twenties, when I realized that I also liked girls.

I remember my first sex dream. Both of them. My first sexual dream involved Captain Jack Sparrow in a ditch down the street from me, and was generally quite bizarre. In line with my extremely vague understanding with male anatomy and sex in general at the time, his penis sprouted out of him like a sped up version of a flower growing out of the ground, blossoming into this thing. That’s about all I remember of it. I’m not even sure if I actually fucked him, or just stared in horror.

My first intimate dream about a girl, however, was much more vividly accurate. In this dream, her and I were in the closet of my childhood room. Little did I know at the time how deeply I was in there. The dream involved a girl I knew from school. In the time before the dream, we had become rather close with despite the fact that she was a deeply involved Mormon, while I was Catholic enough to get my mother off of my back. I woke up in a sweat, reeling from the imagined memory of her lips on mine and her fingers in my hair as I moved against her. I found it hard to look her in the face for the next week without thinking of myself between her legs.

I wrote it off as a phase and told no one. Not even my diary was private enough to even play out the thought that I could like girls. I had a boyfriend, and felt genuine affection and attraction to him, so that dream was just…I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t want to deal with it, so I shoved it to the back of my mind. I played the part, acting appropriately appalled at the idea of a threesome with my boyfriend, then super duper casually telling him I would consent if he could manage to find a third. I knew that he would not be able to in our small, conservative town, but I secretly wondered if it would be anything like the continuing dreams that haunted me. When the thought of a woman would enter my mind, I would promptly shove it to the back of my mind.

It continued that way until my escape from my small hometown. In college, I met Natalie. I would say she’s the one that got away, but it still brings me embarrassment to think about how much I tried, and how much she utterly confused and attracted me in my attempts to win her over. Natalie was unassuming in the beginning. A year younger than myself, we met when she joined my sorority in the flurry of new member welcome night. I am not one to remember faces well, but I took note of hers the moment our eyes met. They were blue like mine, but lighter and clearer, with a stark openness that caught me off guard. She flipped her hair out of her face, and her dusky blonde hair softly flowed down her shoulders as she introduced herself to me.

We hit it off, and she seemed to genuinely enjoy talking to me. I felt a connection that I immediately attributed to benign friendship. Natalie was an instant hit in my sorority, and her sociable personality and blue-eyed blonde prettiness made her a popular new member and vyed after choice for a “little sis.” I told myself her social blossoming was why I felt so happily affected whenever she cheerfully called out my name upon me entering a room and came to hug me. She offered me her phone number to arrange a meet up at a fraternity party that evening, and I couldn’t help but tell my roommate Addy that the pretty new member who everyone liked seemed to be going out of her way to hang out with me. “I’m sure she’s just being social,” I rationalized aloud, “but you should have seen the look on Laura’s face. I know she wants her as a little.”

“Mmhm,” Addy agreed, not quite looking up from her chemistry textbook. “She probably thinks you want her too.”

And I did. But I didn’t quite know yet to what extent.

This realization came to a head when talking to my boyfriend at the time. As was my habit, I recounted my last few days to him that night in his cramped, badly kept studio. Jim was completely aware of my general fascination with women and part time, shallow musings on my sexuality, but didn’t seem to think much of it. At the time, I thought this was because he simply accepted me, but I now wonder if he thought I was making up the whole thing to arouse him. That is, until he heard me talk about Natalie over several weeks. He had met her after week at our date party, and had been less than impressed with her drunken debauchery with her date as well as with my defense of her freedom to express her sexuality and to be a drunk college freshman.

“You know, you talk about that Natalie girl a lot. Do you like her or something?”

“No, what are you talking about?” My reflexive answer came too quickly, and I was alarmed to feel a panic rising in my throat that I only feel when I’m lying. But how could I be lying? “She’s in my sorority. She’s just Natalie.”

“You’re lying. You’re such a bad liar. You like her!” He was teasing now, poking his fingers at my sides. “That’s why you talk about her all the time! You like her!”

While he grew more lighthearted in his teasing, I became more subdued. Natalie…even in my mind the name brought forth her laughing eyes, soft hair, and the feel of her hugging me close.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” I halfheartedly laughed. “A huge crush. I just got a huge lesbian crush for a girl in my own sorority.” It felt wrong to say aloud, forbidden.

Glad to see me laughing with him, Jim moved on to some other topic, but I brooded more on the subject, continuing into the night after he had fallen asleep next to me.

Nope, can’t happen, I thought. It just wasn’t a thing. What, am I bisexual or something? I don’t think I know anyone who is bisexual, and I read that thing saying our university was one of the most gay friendly colleges in the country, so I would have met someone who was bi by now if that’s really a thing. Right? Besides, she’s in my house. That has to come with some sort of bond of trust that says you can’t creep on your sorority sisters. You can’t have unrequited crushes on them. Natalie probably already gets that from guys, just like you do on occasion. And you aren’t half that pretty, so she must get creeped on twice as badly. Leave her alone.

And that’s how I proceeded. I watched Natalie with what I labeled as jealousy at her pretty face and fit body mingled with an annoying desire that I took every opportunity to crush. The more bits and pieces of her personality that I collected through our casual contact, the more I wanted to be in the same room with her, and the more I wanted to stay away.

Natalie does gymnastics. Makes sense, that’s why she looks so good in crop tops. I bet that means she’s super flexi…no. Not going down that road. It’s just a cool hobby.

Natalie likes country music. Me too! It’ll be good to have someone to talk to about possible music festival lineups. I wonder if we could gang up and subject the rest of the house to some country at our next event. We’ll probably be drunk…and dancing. But nothing will happen. Because we are just friends.

Natalie joined the the committee to help set up the philanthropy event. Well, I was going to sign up anyway, right? I mean, it’s for the women and children, not for her. Sure, she’ll be there, but it’s not like we’ll be the only ones there. I can do that.
Then there was That Night. We were drunk. Very drunk. It was an event our house was having with a fraternity. The dance floor was packed with sweaty bodies, and I squeezed my way through it, trying to find the friend I’d left a moment before. That intention melted away as I almost ran into Natalie, whose lips were locked with those of another girl.

My breath left me in a soft woosh. I stared dumbly and was promptly noticed by the pair. Natalie broke away and sloppily leaned in to yell at me over the music.

“I’m bi curious!”

“I’m kind of bicurious too!” Oh God, did I just say that out loud?

“Really?”

“Yeah!” I said, laughing as if it was no big deal, as if it wasn’t the first time those words ever came out of my mouth.

She turned to see that her previous partner had already started dancing closely with a nearby guy. When she turned back to me, her eyes held a mischievous flirtatious look. Grabbing my hand, she pulled me close to her and began dancing with her body pressed against mine. The warmth of her body made my insides whirl, and I breathed in her smell as I moved my hips to match hers. Emboldened by her first move, the alcohol, and the alcohol sloshing through my veins, I ran my hand down her side as our bodies found a rhythm. I felt her slow intake of breath, and she looked up at me. When our eyes met, I recognized that look. The look of an impending kiss. I felt a thrill, and a sense of astonishment that any of this was happening. It had come so out of nowhere. The back of my mind flickered doubt, trying to tell me that I was just convincing myself that she liked me because of the feelings I had for her. But then she leaned into my lips, and I let myself go.

That night led to a lot of introspection (in ways I will later go into), but that was the moment I knew for sure. Before that, there had been a fear that my bisexuality worked for me “in theory,” but that maybe I would hate the real thing. Maybe I was just struggling to make myself more interesting, or maybe I was simply confused. When I felt the softness of her lips against mine, however, I knew it wasn’t. Something clicked for me in that moment. Girls could excite me just as much as boys could. And I have been confident in my bisexuality ever since. I didn’t start shouting it from the rooftops the next day or anything, but in my heart I knew. The feeling of coming out to myself was more wonderful than even being accepted by others. It was like I had been struggling to find the puzzle piece of my sexiality, and had finally triumphed in slipping it into its proper place. Though my feelings for Natalie continued to devastate me just like any crush, my feeling of self became just a little more complete.

The Aftermath of My LGBT+ Celebratory Weekend

I ended up needing to re-read the ending paragraph of my last post sooner than I expected.

I had already made plans with a friend in Los Angeles prior to the decision, so I headed up there on the Saturday afterwards in happy spirits. We had decided to go to the Abbey, a famous gay bar in West Hollywood. Belle has been my close friend for over four years now, and though she is straight, she is a devoted ally. She was excited to wingman me on whoever struck my fancy, and was delighted to spend the night with me celebrating a victory in a cause so close to my heart.

When we arrive, the bar had just begun to fill up. Patrons milled about finishing their dinners and chatting demurely. We strode across the empty dance floor to order a drink at the bar. The entire wall behind the counter was a screen alight with an undulating rainbow flag that made my heart leap. I ordered a drink awash in the rainbow light, feeling its warm acceptance. I fiddled my rainbow pride bracelet as I waited for the bartender. The rubber rainbow band was not my usual style, but I did not want to be mistaken as straight tonight. I wanted everyone to know that I belonged here as one of the community.

Belle and I gathered up our drinks and made our way to the patio dining area, where people were congregating to enjoy the slight breeze in the fading twilight air. Before long, we were approached by a young man about our age. He sported artfully gelled brown hair and a tank top that dipped low enough to show the tattoo arcing under his collar bone.

“Hello ladies. May I say you are both looking beautiful tonight?”

We smiled and genuinely thanked his compliment. He stuck out a hand and introduced himself as Ty, and we gave him our names. After a couple minutes of chatter, Ty asked us our sexualities.

“She is straight,” I said matter-of-factly, “and I am bi.”

His face lit up. “I’m bi too!”

To be fair, I don’t get the chance to hang out in LGBT+ spaces that often, though I have been making an effort lately. This interaction marked the very first time I have ever met a bisexual person organically. By that I mean, not on an Internet dating site or forum. I mirrored his appreciation of finding another of our own kind.

“Bi-five,” I said, holding up my hand. He gleefully slapped his against mine.

At about that time, Ty’s straight friend Glenn wandered into our group. I know he was straight because Ty helpfully introduced him as such. Glenn seemed ill at ease in the bar, but a little too interested in talking to us girls. It became clear that Ty had just met Glenn earlier that night, and that Ty’s friendliness extended to trying to make us all friends as well. Belle and I in turn politely rebuffed Glenn’s advances by making it clear that we did not come to a well known gay bar in a well known gay neighborhood to seek heterosexual connections. He was not the first man we had met with this m.o.

As we’d been talking, the floor inside the venue had been filling, and soon the bar was packed with people. The crowd was mostly men, but I spotted a few lesbian couples in the corner and scattered women who came in attached to groups of men.

“Let’s go dance!” Belle exclaimed. She grabbed my hand and we waved our temporary goodbyes to Ty.

The floor was a mass of sweaty, undulating humanity. There were barely clad go-go dancers of male and female persuasion shaking and grooving on stages throughout the club space. Belle and I slid into a space in the middle of the crowd that was slightly less crowded to join the dancing. Before long, we were hopping up and down with strangers, not trying to speak over the pounding music, but enjoying each others’ company. I tightly held my small purse to keep it from hitting anyone in the chaos.

A drunk, sweaty man infiltrated our group by unceremoniously humping against me. I reacted by moving my body away from him to allow more room for him to move his hips without them painfully banging against my own. He leaned down to shout into my ear.

“I’M GAY, DON’T WORRY.”

Uh, okay. “I’M BI, NICE TO MEET YOU.”

“OKAY, COOL, LET’S DANCE.”

The man stayed with our group for about ten minutes, making it around to almost every person with his bizarre, too-close gyrating. He seemed harmless enough to me, so I indulged his crazy dance moves until he stopped, grabbed my face, and kissed me squarely and openly. I had even decided to patiently wait that one out until he pushed his tongue into my mouth. I pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest.

“WHAT?” He seemed confused. “I’M GAY!”

I took him at his word, but that didn’t mean I wanted to make out with him.

The music was too loud for a conversation about consent, so I gave him an exaggerated shrug.

He leaned in close again. “I’M GOING TO GO GET SOME AIR.” He pointed to the patio of the bar.

I gave him a thumbs up and accepted his hug before he stumbled off. As I tried to collect myself, I grabbed my purse to compulsively check that I hadn’t dropped anything. The moment my hand clutched my bag, I knew.

My phone and my wallet were gone.

The top flap of my purse was hanging open, with only my lipstick and exterior battery charger left inside. I halfheartedly gave a quick scan of the floor around me, but I knew what had happened. I grabbed Belle by the arm and pulled her out of the dance floor while using a series of yelled fragments and gesticulations to update her on my situation. I heavily suspected the drunk kisser, but I couldn’t see him anywhere on the patio. We marched up to the security stationed by the exit, and I filled out a report while Belle tried to track my phone using iCloud.

“It’s shut down. They turned it off already.”

Well, that pretty much solidified what I already knew. Ty found us while I finished up my report. In telling him the story, I began to cry in angry frustration. I kept internally scolding myself for feeling safe and welcome in this space. Of course there are thieves everywhere. Of course you shouldn’t let your guard down in a big city among strangers. Even here.

Ty brought me back a table where his roommates were sitting. Glenn was thankfully absent. He gave me water and let me vent my frustration. After an hour or so more of chatting, we exchanged information to stay in contact. Belle and I called an Uber from her phone and headed back to her Downtown apartment, where I stayed up even later cancelling my credit and debit card, remotely deactivating my phone, and alerting my boyfriend and mother of my situation.

The next day, I awoke to the horrible inconvenience of not having a phone or I.D. Thankfully, I keep an emergency credit card in a separate wallet, so I was not completely destitute as well. Belle received a text message from the bouncer that my wallet had been found. It was returned to me minus my $20 cash and my driver’s license. The thief left my (now cancelled) money cards, old student I.D., membership cards, and even my Target gift card. In my state, a non-renewal replacement license requires a trip to the DMV, so I made an appointment for the soonest one in my vicinity (about a month from that date).

In walking back to our parking space, I received my first sunburn in two years. In my distracted state, I had forgotten to be as vigilant about sunscreen as I usually am. When I reached my car again, I found myself with a $60 parking ticket due to my misunderstanding of one of the three parking signs, a reminder of why I had moved out of L.A.

Belle sold me her old phone at a discount, and I drove the hour to my town to the phone provider store for a SIM. I was tired, sweaty, and sunburned by the time I arrived home. I felt beat down, and I had no one to blame but myself for nearly all of my misfortune. A shower washed away the exterior grime, but did little to help my deeply sullen mood.

My new phone lit up to alert me of a text message from my mother that read, “Hey sweetie, hope you’re doing okay. Call me when you get a chance.”

My mother usually calls when she just wants to talk, or text messages me if she has something quick to tell me. When she text messages me to call her, that usually means bad news. Really bad news. In the past, these phone calls have told me that my grandfather was hospitalized, our veterinarian was found dead, and, a few weeks ago, that a classmate of mine from high school was in a coma from being hit by a drunk driver.

I braced myself as the phone rang. Might as well get it over with.

“It’s about Dan. He’s not going to make it.”

The frustrations of the day melted away to a numbness.

She continued, “They’re not seeing any brain activity. He’s not making any improvements. His family decided to pull him off life support.”

I didn’t know Dan all that well. We had friends in common and shared many school trips, class projects, and friend outings, but we hung in each others’ peripheries. Hearing he had died, my earliest memory of him came to me in a rush. Dan sitting on my bed on our eighth grade trip to D.C. I did not like this boy my roommate had brought into our room. It was against the rules. This laughing, carefree boy had brought us pizza, and now teasingly refused to sit anywhere else in the room. There was no malice in his teasing. He was just trying to get me to lighten up. The more he reasoned with me to just sit next to him, the more frustrated I became, until I smashed my pizza, sauce first, into his face.

Yeah, I didn’t get the whole “boys” thing for quite a while. I remember the smug satisfaction I felt when he looked at me, shocked, with one pepperoni stuck to his cheek. Then he laughed and conceded the bed to me.

Dan never held that against me. He never held much of a grudge towards anyone from what I could tell. He never had any enemies in school, and was known as “Dan the Man” to everyone. When my little sister and his younger brother developed a flirtation that neither of them would acknowledge, we cracked a joke about how in love with each other they must be, since all we’d hear from them is their annoyances with the other.

Dan went to college, and graduated in the spring. The last tagged picture on his social media is him standing proudly in a green cap and gown with his parents and younger brother. Just like me and everyone in our class, he was just living his life, likely just as confused as the rest of us with where post college life was headed. Like many of us, I’m sure Dan assumed he had plenty of time to figure it all out, to become what he was meant to be. And maybe he wouldn’t have been famous for his longboarding hobby, but he would have lived a good and happy life as a truly good and happy person. Instead, he was hit by a car crossing the street midday, and that was it.

At the end of my frustrating weekend, I was fine. Some of my stuff was stolen, but it wasn’t violent, I wasn’t hurt, and it could all be replaced. In my earnest yearning to find a place to belong, I forgot to appreciate how much I truly have – my life, my health, my family, and more. It’s taken me a while to write about this because I didn’t know how to frame this in my mind or in words. But it’s not something you can just put in a nicely packaged box. Life is messy and chaotic and sometimes makes no sense. Dan’s life mattered, and it’s over. Hundreds of people attended his memorial, and many more (including myself) mourn him from afar, knowing the world has lost a genuine soul. A friend told me that Dan’s organs could save the lives of nine other people. As those parts of him live on physically, maybe I can embody those parts of him that I always admired most – his chill, forgiving nature, his quickness to laugh – and he can be remembered and live on in that way as well.

My Experience of the Legalization of Same Sex Marriage in America

Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday after the U.S Supreme Court handed down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. Alex Wong/Getty Images

I woke up this morning, and in the begrudging haze of beginning my morning ritual, I tapped open my Reddit app, hoping the dim light of the phone screen would somehow give me inspiration to make it through the eight hours of work standing between me and my weekend. Today, it worked.

I hope i never forget the minute I saw that post. I hope I can tap into that honest, raw, sudden and encompassing feeling of exuberance whenever I’ve had a bad day. Because something today went our way. The Supreme Court finally recognized what we’ve known all along – our right to marry whomever we choose.

I hurriedly woke up my soundly sleeping boyfriend next to me with the news. He mumbled back, “really? They decided on healthcare reform yesterday.”

“Yeah, but this is SAME SEX MARRIAGE!” He was obviously not on my level. A great ally, my supportive, lovely, currently half asleep boyfriend was tragically straight. He hadn’t caught on to how deeply this was affecting me, how the news was lifting me up. He reached out a sleepy hand to stroke my cheek as I beamed down at him, my feet sticking out of the bed sheets in preparation to launch myself into the day.

Bisexual ShirtFor work I chose a shirt with a geometric pattern featuring purple, blue, and pink. It was a day for pride, after all. I slipped the fabric over my head like it was battle armor, but I knew no one I worked with would recognize the subtext. I hadn’t spoken much about my dating life in the sex months I’d been with the company, but my coworkers were aware that I lived with my boyfriend. Straight until proven otherwise. The shirt was for me.

I arrived at work five minutes early. The southern California roads were mystically clearer than usual, and the day was as sunny and bright as I was. I set about my work as usual, the happiness faded into the background of the monotonous typing. On my lunch break, my excitement was brought back to the surface and increased tenfold by numerous Reddit threads, Facebook posts, Snapchat messages and other media by my GSM friends and allies. Through the outpouring, I felt a collective relief. It was like we were all letting out a breath we had forgotten we’d been holding for years now. It was like we were Horton’s Whos shouting “We are here we are here we are here!” from our dust speck of pride parades across the country. We couldn’t be denied any longer.

By the end of my half hour, I was near vibrating from the realization of what this really meant. I had known this day would come, but it was today. It was happening right now. Our children and our children’s children would be able to look back and say, “that’s when it happened. That’s when my daddies could get married.” I wanted to capture every moment. I wanted to somehow seize the day and race off to some pride parade right there and then to be a part of it all. But I still had half a workday left, so I headed back to my cubicle.

A head popped above the partition wall as I arrived. “Did you hear about this?” my cubemate Brian said, pointing to the screen on the far wall of the office. I squinted, trying to see what news banner under the man in the suit was urgently trying to tell us all.

“No. Is it the gay marriage legalization?” I said brightly.

“Nah, they shot one of those escaped prisoner guys.”

“Oh,” I said, not pretending I had kept up on that segment of the news.

“But that gay marriage thing is crazy!”

“Yes! I just got back from reading all these great articles about it at lunch. I’m so happy!”

Brian seemed a little surprised at my overt enthusiasm. “Yeah…now you and your boyfriend can get married.”

Ouch. I reminded myself that he didn’t know I was bisexual, and so my celebration went beyond the expected “good for them.” Nothing could bring me down today.

“I mean, I’m not planning to get married for a few years anyway. Things could change.” Technically accurate. He wasn’t going to force me to come out on his terms. Talking about sexuality in the workplace was not something I wanted to do unless truly necessary. Besides, couldn’t I just be happy about our newfound freedom even if I did want to marry a man?

He laughed as if I had made a joke. I smiled at him politely and put on my headphones to signal the end of our conversation. Time for some #LoveWins jams on Spotify. I was going to get my gay groove on no matter where I was.

Our glorious achievement today doesn’t mean the swift end to GSM relations in every corner of the world, or even in our corner of it. I, however, refuse to let that temper my elation. We can be happy today. Today, I think we deserve to revel in our significant, historic, landmark victory. In writing this, I want to go forth into the battles ahead with today’s triumph in mind. When it looks hopeless, I want to look back onto gifs like this and know that we can affect real change within our own lifetimes in the minds of our peers and the laws of our lands. I want to hold on to this feeling of recognition, of blissful equality, of ecstatic joy for those who have too often felt beaten down, rejected, and ignored. Today is ours, and no one can take it from us.

My Coming Out

A couple weekends ago I came out as bisexual to my mother. My weekly-Mass-attending, very-involved-in-her-Catholic-parish mother. Why? Because it seemed like the time. All my friends knew, my sister knew, and anyone I met knew if it happened to come up. It wasn’t a secret to me. Additionally, I had submitted a piece centering around my bisexuality to a literary magazine. If I felt comfortable sharing this part of myself with potentially the entire world, how could I keep it from my own mother? What had for the past two years seemed like an “oh, it has never come up” ambivalence was morphing into an actively held secret lurking behind every corner of our weekly conversations. When the blue/black or white/gold dress phenomenon exploded all over the internet, I caught myself before joking that, “I probably see it both ways because I go both ways.” I would feel a twinge of guilt whenever she would talk about our “honest” relationship and express how glad she was that we would talk frankly with each other. I didn’t post any pictures of going to my first Pride for fear she would see them. Enough was enough.

I began the planning. I live almost 600 miles from my parents, so seeing them involves a 10 hour drive or a plane trip. I had already decided it was going to be an in person conversation so that a button could not end the potential awkwardness. I would face this head on. My youngest sister’s graduation was coming up, and my ticket was already bought and time off already planned to spend five days there. Now for recon. I called my youngest sister to assess any recent stances on sexuality. It wasn’t until 2 minutes into telling her my plan that I realized she had no clue what I was talking about, because I’d only come out to my other sister. Whoops. She was surprisingly nonplussed, reminded me that the Pope was “okay with it”, and even offered to bring up Caitlyn Jenner to my mom and gauge her reaction. Her repeated comforts of, “It’s fine, Mom will still love you” and “it’s not going to be a big deal” didn’t do much to calm my rising nerves. She was 17, what did she know?

Upon my arrival, I found it hard to get my mother alone. My grandparents, two aunts, uncle and two-year-old cousin were also visiting for the graduation, and the house was already crowded with us four kids and parents. I finally managed to snag her after a night of wine-drinking and general frivolity had caused everyone else to go to bed. I saw my moment as we put away the wine glasses.

I started with the literary zine I had written a piece to, and how I was excited to be writing and possibly becoming published. Her face lit up, but became tempered with concern as I, on the verge of wine and emotion fueled tears, sputtered out that the publication focused on a part of myself we hadn’t spoken about before. There was a silence as I mustered up the nerve. The possibilities flashed in my head. She could cry and spew gospel at me. She could look at me like a stranger. She could renounce me as her daughter. This could be the moment when it all changes. I stared down at the floor between our toes. The comforting swirls and scratches of the wood floor was easier to confront than her searching eyes.

“Bisexuality.”

“What?”

I blinked and felt a tear roll down my cheek. I wouldn’t be ashamed. I lifted my gaze to stare at the cabinets to the right of her head.

“Bisexuality.”

“Oh, that’s it? I thought it was going to be bad news.”

Relief flash flooded over me.

She moved her head to meet my eyes, placed her hands on my cheeks, and continued. “Do you really think something like that could make me love you less?”

“I don’t know. It’s not very Catholic of me.”

“Hey, Pope Francis is okay with it! Besides, you’re my daughter and I will love you no matter what.” She was giving me a hard, serious look. I always thought women were more fluid and prone to experimenting anyway. But wait, back to the ‘might be published’ thing! Meg, that’s huge!” She hugged me exuberantly. “I’m so proud of you!”


Basically, my coming out to my mom turned into the “not a big deal” kind of coming out. But truthfully, I feel like I have been “out” for over two years now. My dating profiles and posting history on different forums would easily reveal this information, and saying, “I’m bi” feels natural to me and life-affirming, like I am taking on bi erasure one tiny step at at time. But with telling my mom, I truly feel like I am not hiding myself from anyone. Sure, I haven’t explicitly sat down my brother, dad, and extended family and explicitly told each and every person I’ve ever known, but knowing my family matriarch is on my side makes all of that just not seem like a big deal. I can just be me and know my fierce, protective, stubborn, self-assured, loving mom will be on my side. And I know I have picked up a lot of those traits from her.

That’s why I want to keep this as a blog rather than a traditional diary. Sort of a shrugging off of the last vestiges of the closet. Not hiding anything. I have some ideas already of stories I want to get on paper (so to speak) about figuring out my sexuality and the ups and down of being bisexual. I know that some other people out there may also have had similar feelings or might be just starting out in their questioning. If they find their way here, I can hope they take comfort in knowing someone else went through the same thing and that there’s not just the black and white of hetero and homosexual.