Meet Flip. Flip is in the closet.
You might notice that I avoid pronouns in this article. I did this because Flip identifies as gender-queer and because some non-cis folks, including a close friend of mine, chose to avoid pronouns. I decided to take the time in this article to show that one does not need pronouns, even if Flip doesn't do that in Flip's own life, and to normalize my friend's choice.
When asked to "Describe your fear of coming out in one sentence." Flip responded, “Being rejected and ostracized by my family and my friends from my old life.” You spend countless hours, days, and years loving the people in your life, and a fear creeps in that the very ones you love, your friends, your family, might possibly never speak with you again and it's because you are bi.
Some of us are lucky enough to be raised without that fear. But the majority of us don't have that luxury, so this crippling fear sets in and we feel as though Medusa has immobilized us and turned us into stone. But, like in the myth, where Perseus' mirrored shield saved him from Medusa's magical stare, we also have ways to reflect that fear away from us. One way to do that is by reading other people's stories about why they are afraid to come out and gaining the courage to overcome that fear.
Often, we're grouped into communities based on our sexuality (bi, gay, lesbian, straight) and/or the lack thereof (asexual). More often than not, it's the people who are not straight who need to find that community of like-minded people to feel a sense of belonging in this world. But, despite the rising tide of tolerance of the last decade, I wanted to know if Flip felt that these various communities fully accepted Flip's bisexuality. Flip stated, “I’m most at home in non-binary and gender queer spaces. I’ve been accepted by lesbians and gay men but I’m a little too sex positive to make aces feel wholly comfortable.”
People with fluid sexualities have different words to describe their sexuality: bi, flexi, open, etc. I posed the question to Flip about whether or not Flip uses another term, other than bi, to refer to Flip's sexuality. “I’m a gender-queer omnisexual, demisexual.”
Sometimes it can come as quite a shock when a person realizes that they are bi at an older age. I wondered about Flip's initial realization that Flip was attracted to more than one gender. I also wanted to know if Flip had come to terms with Flip's own bisexuality.
Flip told me, “I’ve had feelings for afab persons (people assigned as female at birth) my whole life but I realized that [I] also had feelings for amab persons (people assigned as male at birth) and non-binary persons (people who are nary male nor female or some combination of both or something other and beyond). It was a long process but I’ve mostly come to accept this.”
Nobody likes to hear derogatory remarks about themselves and the negativity towards bi people seems to run abundant. I asked Flip about some of the things that Flip has heard from friends or family that painted bi people in a dim light. “[I've heard people say that] bi people are promiscuous, they’re just straight people pretending because it’s fashionable to be queer, bisexual isn’t really a thing, sex between two people of the same gender is gross and unholy.”
Does Flip know about the bi presence online and does Flip participate with our online communities? “I don’t really engage with any online queer spaces,” Flip stated. “All my resources are physical support groups and friends.” Flip is lucky to be able to find real life support from those like Flip.
Pride parades and LGBT bars can be exhilarating to bi people who have not been initiated into such surroundings before. Had Flip attended such places? “I’ve been to a Pride event,” Flip said, “and to a disco night at a local gay bar. I had the support of my partner and several other queer friends in both of those cases.”
“I don’t think I’ll come out to my family in the near future,” Flip replied when asked if Flip would ever fully come out. What would facilitate Flip completely coming out to the world? Flip noted, “Maybe some time in the future when there’s no immediate threat of reprisal, if I even want them in my life at all.”
Has Flip ever been in a same or similar gender relationship? Flip said, “Yes, I’m currently in a same gender relationship. Even though my own gender identity has changed somewhat.”
I always want to end on a high note, so I always ask the question “What about being bi brings you the most joy and comfort”. Flip's response was, “To me omnisexuality is love in its purest form, between two spirits, two souls. Bodies are temporary but souls and love are eternal.” Truly forever.
That is Flip's story.
In an effort to bring to the public the fears and discouragement of why many bi people choose to remain in the closet, I present to you a series of interviews with those I call “damp bi” folk. Though just as fluid in their sexuality as any openly bi person, a damp bi is someone who cannot fully embrace their fluidity in their sexuality safely or surely, and therefore are only “slightly wet”. This series hopes to instill in the reader a sense of encouragement and hope, for those in the closet, and a sense of awareness and insight to those non-bi folks who want to encourage bi people to live their lives openly and proud.
52% of LGB persons surveyed are bi, according to most recent statistical analyses. Many bi people remain slightly wet. This ranges from gay and lesbian identified people who also have attractions to other genders, straight identified people who are also attracted to many genders, asexual identified people who sometimes have sexual attraction to men, women, and non-binary folk, and the average person who gives no hint of their sexuality but is generally perceived by others to be straight. This suggests numbers may be higher among the non-LGBT demographics. What can you do to encourage bi people to come out? Do you help facilitate a safe environment for bi people to feel comfortable coming out to you? Do you see the importance of people living as their true selves, to be able to talk openly about the relationships they are in regardless of gender?