It's kind of hard to say when I first knew that I was bi. Admittedly, I had fostered feelings of attraction towards both men and women my entire life. Yet, I didn't truly accept myself until the age of 31.
Crazy, but true. Certainly, I am not alone. The struggle for acceptance within your own mind is one of the toughest battles you can face. And for me, acceptance was extremely difficult.
If I am being honest, I knew I was different as far back as grade school. While I liked looking at girls, I had an interest in boys too, as much as I didn't want to admit it. But there was one boy that acted on things with me.
Oh, how those were awkward times. Hanging out in his basement, touching ourselves and looking at each other. It was all innocent. We did stuff like that a few times. Then, he started saying we were gay and for some reason, that freaked me out.
No, I said. We are just experimenting. It's just a thing and it doesn't mean anything. Looking back, it probably did. I was just too afraid to walk down that path. Not in Montana, not in the 1990s.
As I grew older, my feelings didn't really change. I dated a lot of girls, even told a few I loved them and meant it. But in the back of my mind and during my online adult video searches, I sometimes had different tastes.
It wasn't that I necessarily searched gay porn or anything like that. But when I am watching a man and a woman, it's super erotic to me. I found myself attracted to both and for a long time, it made me uncomfortable.
I remember my first male encounters, and by that I mean just talking, came via Myspace.
One guy worked with me at this pizza place. Everyone knew he was gay and also that he thought I was hot. It was a rumor that circulated around and even though I had a girlfriend, I really enjoyed the idea. Truthfully, I thought he was cute too.
He was a cook and I was a delivery guy. Sometimes, we would wind up in the freezer together and eventually, I allowed my mind to wander. I would fantasize about us together back there although, it never happened.
We became friends on Myspace. He had a name with the word fairy in it, which caused some of my friends to make fun of me. Why are you friends with him? I can remember being asked.
I played it off as a friend from work, but there was more to it than that. And I knew it. It was my intention all along. He and I started messaging and it got dirty. We had a mutual girl that was friendly with both of us and for some reason, he showed her the messages.
I wasn't a jock. But I was captain of the football team, dated a cheerleader with huge boobs and maybe he thought it was surprising. I am not sure what motivated him to do that. I was horrified that he had betrayed my trust. That girl, whose friend dated my best friend, told him (my BFF) all about it.
To this day, I am not sure if my friend saw the messages. He asked me about it and I denied it. I am sure he saw right through my denial and we never discussed it again. The thing is, I don't know why I wasn't honest.
He told me he loved me as a friend -- we used that word in a brother type of way -- and that it wouldn't change if I was gay (people always assume gay). Still, I held my ground and changed the subject back to sports or whatever.
Even then, after fantasizing about a co-worker, sending him dirty messages online, messages about things I wanted to come true, I still couldn't admit I was bi. I remember thinking, am I gay?
Even I, being so naive, thought of it as straight or gay. I can only be one of two things. I knew I liked women, I always had. Deep down though, I knew I had the same feeling about men. I just couldn't admit, I guess in part because I thought I would be gay. And while I had thought of having sex, being in a relationship, or romantic with a guy, it didn't seem possible.
So at that point, I just assumed I was straight. I figured everything else was a phase or some type of fantasy. Mostly, I was just really, really confused. So I turned to drugs, alcohol, and partying to ease the pain.
After all, if you can't be honest with yourself and love who you are, you probably are going to have a tough go of things. If you hate yourself because of your sexuality, something you really can't control, then you are going to cause yourself some anguish. I figure I am not alone in that.
This denial led to depression and anxiety and whatever else. I went to shrinks and the like and remember one time taking a test that included things about sexuality. Once I was finished, the doctor asked if I was gay or if I had gay thoughts. I knew the answer was yes. But even then, in a protected, private setting, I could not admit it. I left and never went back.
I didn't tell my parents why I never wanted to see him again, just that he made me feel uncomfortable. And I buried it, like the conversation with my friend and like a dog with a bone, I buried it, as best I could, for as long as I could.
For one, in Montana, being bi or anything other than straight isn't easy. Things are better than they were, but it's not like you can meet gay or bi people easily or often. Most are very guarded and in some cases, may have the need to be. That's not meant to say people here are prejudiced, most are accepting, but with careers at stake and everything else, I get why some choose to keep themselves secret.
A few years after all this, I met my wife and we have been together ever since. But still, my attraction to men never went away and after some time, I admitted it to her, in a step-by-step kind of process.
Still, I thought it was all about sex until I met a guy I was genuinely attracted to. I can't do dating sites. For me, it's all about that in-person connection and for the first time since the cook at the pizza place in college, I had an individual I wanted. And my wife allowed me to act on those feelings.
I told him I didn't know If I wanted to kiss him or if I would be into that. Honestly, I never had before. And to be even more honest, I didn't think I would like it. But then I touched his body, smelled him and leaned in.
When our lips met and his tongue touched mine, my world was opened in a new way. I had a romantic encounter with a man and I liked it, which is something I never thought I would say.
That was the day or to be more exact, the moment, I knew, finally, that I was bi. Of course, looking back, it was pretty clear before, only I was bound and determined not to see it.
I discovered something that was true about myself. And I am thankful that I did, because, after so many years, I am tired of hiding and sick of being confused.
I can't tell you how glad it made me and how relieved I felt when I realized I was bi -- when I understood my identity for the first time. It's one thing to think you're bi, it's another thing entirely to actually know it.
It's been a gift though. I haven't been with him again and I don't know if I will ever again. However, that experience will always mean something to me, because finally, for the first time in my life, I understood my identity and realized it's what I have always been missing.
I kissed a guy and I liked it. And frankly, that's not something I will allow myself to feel ashamed about ever again.