Ask A Bi Dad: Am I Too Old To Come Out?
By Lewis Oakley
November 16, 2021
Photo credit: Pexels/Andres Ayrton
Life is sweet. In fact, it's pretty heteronormative: good job, good life, amazing Mrs, no worries.
It took me so long to figure out what was going on in my head (& my pants) that I was 40 & married when I finally got it.
Sadly I only really knew by cheating so unsurprisingly it was touch and go with my Mrs: arguments, recriminations, & counselling but we got through it. I love her very much & am really happy.
Thing is, knowing how much not having obvious points of reference as a kid made things confusing for me, I feel I should be more open.
I'm thinking about coming out to my folks, but really how does a 40-something do that? Is it selfish? Given how long it took me to come out to myself I'm not sure there's time.
What do you reckon?
Coming out can seem like a young person’s game, but the truth is people are coming out all the time at any age — particularly bisexuals.
I think the first step to answering your own question is to understand how important it is to you. Would you regret if they died, and they didn’t know?
I’m sad I didn’t get to tell my Nan about my sexuality. She died before I was ready to talk about it. Not knowing what she would think will always feel like a missing piece. If only she could see me now, not just as a bisexual but doing the advocacy work I do. Her encouragement would have meant so much to me.
I think that’s what you need to weigh up whilst you still have the option of coming out. Will not telling them, not getting to have that conversation, not giving them the chance to accept you — will you regret that?
I understand the feelings behind not wanting to upset them. I do know that for some people, coming out is sadly not an option. I’m certainly not naïve enough to think that we can just blindly encourage everyone to come out and start waving rainbow flags. It’s simply not an option for everyone.
However, being older, you are in a stronger position — they aren’t going to kick you out of the house for one. Also, the anxiety some parents can have around a child being LGBTI and what their future may hold also is not as much of a worry. You’re married and in your 40s!
At this point, it doesn’t really change anything from their perspective. They’ve always had a bisexual son. The only difference is that now they know about it.
What’s more, you are their son! If anyone can explain bisexuality to them, it’s you. You’re bound to share similar thought patterns, so sharing your journey of acceptance should hopefully help them with theirs.
We are a visual species, and most people will perceive your opposite-sex relationship to be straight. If you were in a same-sex relationship, the world would perceive you as gay. For bisexual people in relationships, the default is really to be closeted. We have to work harder to be out, and it doesn’t always get easier.
It can sometimes feel like you’re letting the side down by not being out, but I’ve come to realise — you don’t owe anyone the truth. Your parents included. It’s up to you to decide who you want to share your sexuality with. In the end. You’ll know what is right for you.
Thanks again for reaching out, and good luck!
What advice would you give to this reader? Give us your take in the comments below.
Bisexual people often have few other bi people to turn to for support or to ask questions. This means we often can’t build on the experience of other bi people and improve things for the next generation. Ask a Bi Dad is aimed at tackling this.
Lewis Oakley is one of the leading bi advocates and writers, campaigning to improve the public’s perception of bisexuality. Recognised by the Pride Power List 2021 and with various award nominations under his belt, Lewis has been successful in making bisexuality national news.
Lewis knows more than most how lonely being bisexual can feel, particularly in those early years. Now, confident in himself, his relationship, and a dad of two, Lewis recognises how rare and lucky he is. This is why he wants to help where he can by answering the questions of bi people from all around the world.
If you have a question that you would like a perspective on, email at [email protected]
*Lewis is not a licenced therapist, and the advice offered in this column is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological, or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.