I’m out as bisexual at uni but still haven’t told any of my family
I’m afraid it would change the way they see me
I don’t know when I realised I was bisexual. For me, liking men and women has always felt normal.
If you asked me who I have dated over the past 20 years of my life, the list would exclusively contain men (we could talk about how some people will decide, on my behalf, that I cannot be bi if I haven’t dated a woman – but that’s a long discussion for another day).
And sadly, I’m not here to divulge on any erotic experiences with friends at sleepovers or girls’ locker rooms in order to prove this, so the creeps who came to this article for a sexually frustrated raging bisexual, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
It wasn’t until I came to university that I started to tell people I was bisexual. I remember promising myself when I first arrived to try my hardest to be myself.
It was during the first week when people started asking: “What’s everyone’s type?” Oh, the joys of living in a flat of unbridled teenagers who have just broken out of their small-town lives. Without much thought, I just blurted out:“I like girls and guys”.
‘There was a sense of relief as if I had been holding in a breath of air for too long’
There was some nodding. One guy asked if I had ever had a threesome – because if it doesn’t work for the male gaze it doesn’t exist – and then we moved on. Another girl also said she was bi (pan to the same guy who asked about threesomes suddenly losing his mind) and the night pretty much continued without another word on the matter.
And that was it. My “coming out” moment as it were. There were no confetti cannons, nor was there a rainbow cake. But there was a sense of relief as if I had been holding in a breath of air for too long.
I liked that these people knew my preferences and were, for the most part, completely unfazed by them. I also suddenly realised that these people, who I had known less than a week, knew more about me than my own family.
‘My childhood was saturated with heteronormative culture’
I come from a small town, the kind of place you see in Emmerdale, except there’s no murderers or head-spinning love affairs between the village reverend and the butcher. Everyone knows everyone. So naturally, I learnt very quickly to keep my cards close to my chest.
I’m aware of the privileges in my life. To the average person, I look like a cishet woman with a boyfriend. I’m aware I’m not forced to hide who I am. My friends at home probably wouldn’t care if I told them that I find guys and girls attractive.
My struggle with coming out to the people who should know me best comes from the attitudes and behaviours I saw growing up. My childhood was saturated with a culture tailored to heteronormative stereotypes.
People would tell me to keep my toys for my own children. I was told that I couldn’t have boys over at sleepovers because I’m a girl, and it would lead to trouble. Whenever I wore baggy clothes, I was told that boys won’t approach me (kind of the point, grandma).
When I arrived at university, this narrative disappeared. I was able to do as I pleased without the remarks that reminded me I was not quite like everyone else.
‘Bisexuality in the LGBTQ+ community has been fetishised’
However, I could not discuss this without talking about the inner turmoil of understanding my own sexuality also being a cause for my silence. Bisexuality in the LGBTQ+ community has been fetishised, ridiculed and diminished (again, we could have a long discussion about these struggles, but that’s also for another day).
It’s easy to experience feelings of doubt when it comes to our sexuality. Essentially, a form of imposter syndrome begins. Which holds me back from telling my family. Which makes me question whether I’m even a “real” bisexual. Which holds me back from telling my family… and the cycle continues.
Knowing that my friends at uni see me one way, while my family see me as someone else certainly doesn’t help either. And as Pride Month continues, I want to remind everyone that just because someone isn’t out to everyone in their life, doesn’t mean that they aren’t who they claim to be. Coming out is difficult. It can be anxiety-inducing, and even dangerous for some.
So when someone comes out to you, know that it could be in confidence and that it is not your information to share with whoever you wish. And for those still kind of in the closet (like me), I hope you have a wonderful Pride Month. I see you, and I support your double life.
The Tab’s Pride reporting series is putting a focus on highlighting LGBTQ+ issues and celebrating queer voices across UK campuses.
If you’ve got a story you’d like to tell us – whether it’s an incident of homophobia on campus, an experience you’d like to share, or anything you think we should hear, get in touch in confidence by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org