I talk about bisexuality way more than 99% of other bi folks out there. Not only because that's my job, but also because I'm fascinated by human sexuality. I love knowing which genders, kinks, and acts of romance turn people on. I also love watching people perk up when I discuss my own sexuality. I think the candor with which I discuss my own sexuality helps to normalize the sexual desires of others.
One thing I've noticed in all my chats on sexuality is that bis — unlike gay and transgender folks — often miss out on having that big "coming-out moment".
This is in large part due to the fact that bi people aren't as likely to be out as gay and transgender folks. Pew Research revealed in 2013 that a mere 28% of bi people are out to all or most of the important people in their lives and that number shrinks to 12% for bi men. (I really hope they can get an update of these statistics this year, because 2013 was half a decade ago, and I'm getting tired of quoting this in every piece.)
However, research from YouGov has illustrated that a growing number of millennials fall somewhere on the sexually fluid spectrum. In fact, roughly one-third of US millennials and half of UK millennials say that they're neither exclusively gay nor straight.
So there are a number of us. There are going to be more of us, but we aren't out the same way as gay and transgender folks. This isn't great.
In fact, I often speak to folks who either identify as bi or are bisexually-oriented (meaning they have sex with multiple genders), but they never officially came out.
And while they'll say they're bi to me, and their close friends know that they are attracted to multiple genders, these folks never had a big "I'm bi" moment.
This is especially true for older generations. I was talking to a family friend who's in his early 60's. He said that when he was younger, going out to clubs and actively dating, he just let people think whatever about his sexual orientation. Some people thought he was gay. Some folks thought he was straight. He didn't see any reason to correct them. He told me it never really bothered him.
There was a similar sentiment illustrated in an article that came out last month in the Independent, titled, "I never properly came out as bisexual — I spent too much time trying to work out how to flirt with women." The humorous article was written by comedian Shappi Khorsandi, and it concludes with:
I have been marching for gay rights since I was 17. Despite all those years of marching and getting drunk at Pride, officially coming "out" as bisexual seemed like too much of a fuss. People make assumptions: "You're bi? Oh. Well, I hope you don't fancy me. I'm straight." If you have ever said this to me, please know I would rather date a penguin.
Now I loved the article until the conclusion. Nevertheless, it's her life and if she doesn't want to make a fuss about her (bi)sexuality because of the responses she gets from others, that's 100% her prerogative.
But one thing I do know about millennials, is that we love making a fuss. That's kind of our whole thing.
Sometimes, yes, I'll admit, we fuss to a fault, but most of the time, I love that we are taking initiatives to change the way society views and treats the LGBTI community, people of color, women, and other marginalized groups.
So I say it's high time we begin to have our big coming out moment too. It's time we start making a fuss. This fuss, however, serves a higher purpose. It's not calling out people simply for the sake of it.
While coming out can be terrifying (it was even for me and I'm from a liberal Jewish family), it is incredibly empowering. While it sounds cliche as all hell, it's cliche for a reason: A huge weight is lifted from your shoulders when you come out. When you have that moment and say the words, "I am bi."
Research has also illustrated time and time again the positive mental health benefits from coming out (assuming you're in an environment where it's somewhat safe to do so). Coming out has been associated with less anxiety and depression.
Now as we all know, bis often have to come out again and again and again. It's a pain in the ass. If at this point, you don't want to correct someone every time they mislabel your sexual identity, that's completely fine. It's important to engage in self-care.
But don't deprive yourself of your big coming-out moment. You owe it to yourself.