When I finally took the plunge and came out several years ago through a column in my college newspaper, I left a significant detail out; the fact that I am bi. Instead, I kept the piece more general and simply shared I was a member of the LGBTI community. Of course, this was a deliberate choice on my part which was made for several reasons, one of the most prominent being that I had experienced harsh pushback from several gay men for “choosing” to identify as bi.
Those interactions, along with what I perceived to be a lack of general knowledge about bisexuality in the surrounding community, sadly made me feel like I had to omit the most vital part of that piece. Simply put, I did not think I had the emotional capacity or energy to come out to the world while simultaneously defending my bi identity from those who lack understanding, compassion, and empathy for the bi community.
These and other experiences also left me with lingering feelings of doubt that, somehow, I was not “bi” enough. I thought that if I was going to share this part of myself with the world, I had to be the perfect representation of what a bi man should be. I believed I had to meet certain expectations and criteria to validate my bisexuality to others, despite the fact I had known I was attracted to more than one gender from a very early age. Of course, this insecurity led to countless hours of anxiety, doubt, and sadness for one obvious reason: there is no “perfect” way to be bi.
When that epiphany struck, it was electrifying; I had spent so much time agonizing over trivial elements of my life to appease those who, frankly, were not important in my life, to begin with. I have always, as my mom likes to say, danced to the beat of my own drummer throughout life. Why should my bisexuality be expressed any differently? I know myself better than anyone else, and I am more than capable of understanding, embracing, and celebrating the many nuances of my sexual orientation. As a writer, I find comfort in sharing my experiences as a bi man with others, but I would never claim to be an expert on bisexuality. I’m simply an expert on my own life, which just so happens to be full of bi experiences, perspectives, and opinions.
By sharing this part of my life with others, I have been fortunate to connect with many bi individuals, all of whom express their bisexuality in unique ways. Through these connections, I’ve learned more about my community and myself, and with each passing year, I grow happier and more secure through these interactions. We aren’t looking for bi perfection; we’re looking for authenticity, for connections with those who have gone through similar experiences and have a greater capacity to relate to what life as a bi person is really like.
Yes, it is one full of challenges, but I’ve also come to learn it is one full of opportunity. There is no set mold for what bisexuality is or should be, which means as bi individuals, we have greater freedom to express ourselves, so long as we don’t let the naysayers or our own self-doubt bring us down. There is no timeline, magic number, percentage, or any other quantitative or qualitative benchmark one must hit to be bi; one simply is.
As I chased that impossible bi “perfection,” I can definitively say I wasn’t nearly as happy as I am today. Considering perfection is unattainable and incredibly subjective in virtually any context, it’s no surprise that several areas of my life improved when I set the goal of perfection aside and embraced what makes me truly happy in this life, regarding bisexuality and much more.
Gone are the days when I worry about others who audaciously claim to have a better understanding of who I am than I do. I no longer give out numbers, timelines, or other information to validate myself to those who menacingly proclaim that only someone with something to hide would keep that information to themselves. I’m not exactly sure what they are looking for in order to be convinced bisexuality is valid, but I can tell you firsthand providing that information rarely, if ever, leads to anything other than persistent doubt, criticism, and invasive questioning.
So let them think I am an “imperfect” bi man. I will always fight for the acceptance of my community, but the most powerful form of acceptance for me comes from within. There is a bright bi flame burning deep within me, fueled by my own feelings of confidence, self-worth, and acceptance, which no one has the power to extinguish but me, an eternally imperfect bi man.