Editor's Note: Greg and I talked a lot about this interview. However, we agreed that it's important to acknowledge that just because a person is bi, doesn't mean that they necessarily agree with everything in the LGBTI community. We are a diverse group of individuals with diverse experiences and diverse opinions. Some of Christopher's opinions differ from those of bi.org and those of Greg. That doesn't make Christopher any less bi, nor does it make his decision to come out any less important.
It was initially my plan that if bi people in the closet could read about other bi people's experiences while in the closet that they would find a sense of solidarity with the folks they read about and gain the courage and confidence to take that first step out of the closet. I did that for several years interviewing and writing about these people and it helped and people did come out and they used these articles to do so.
Then, I wanted to go one step further and start interviewing people who are finally ready to dip into fluid waters and join the bi community out in the open air. I've had the pleasure of interviewing them while they were still on that cusp, and the excitement in their voices at the prospects of living life fully in their own truth has been electric.
Following up with those folks, I have seen that they are happy and I'm glad I could share in that life-changing experience with them.
Christopher is one such person. He's a self-proclaimed nudist and he's also bi. He's been waiting a long time for this moment and now it's his time to shine and bask in his own magenta, violet, and dark blue bi-lighting.
I want to mention that in this article some topics are brought up that might be triggering to some, as they are not popular opinions held by all bi people, but by the bi person being interviewed. I hope I can create an atmosphere of understanding and by the end of the article, I hope I've conveyed that it's okay that some people don't have all the information yet necessary to have less bigoted beliefs, because we are still teaching and people are still learning and we can only come to a mutual understanding through such dialogue as this.
I ask Christopher, “You're willing to come out of the closet? Yes?”
Yeah. I mean, I'm practically like... if it was on a scale of one to ten, I'm like, right at like an eight or nine. I'm just wanting to take that final step.
I tell Christopher to take a few breaths, speak slowly, and have fun. He continues,
I found that bisexuals are, it seems like, the most discriminated against and stuff. And there's a lot of stuff I've been following and looking at. There's even articles I've written on it, too, that we're, like, more discriminated against more than "homos" or "heteros". It's kind of like, we love both, but we're rejected by both.
This is true. We face push-back, backlash, and denial of existence from the many sides surrounding us. We are at the center of the sexuality spectrum yet it seems every other sexuality is looking in another direction and away from us. It's almost like we aren't here. We can feel invisible at times, and there's a bit of comfort in that, especially if one is still in the closet and wishes to walk among the myriad of people on this planet unnoticed.
But there comes a time to reveal oneself. We may not think our friends and family are ready, but it doesn't matter whether they are ready when you, yourself are.
So we come out and we show the world we're here. We're here AND we're queer. We deserve the title of queer just as much as gay men and lesbians and we're alive in society just the same as they are, and we're truly just as tangible as our straight and ace cousins. We are able to be touched. You can actually see us. Sometimes we glow in the dark. We have a heart, a brain, and courage, but not always when it comes to living openly as bi.
The point of the matter is: We exist. We have shared experiences with almost everyone around the globe and we spend decades in the daily grind and nightly dazzle, the same as anyone else. We have ups and downs, work hard at our jobs, and keep the earth populated. We've been here the whole time throughout history, sometimes erased, sometimes unknown to be bi but speculated about, and sometimes so blatantly bi we've been balked at.
But enough about bis in general. Let's get back to this bi, in particular.
Christopher has courage, but in this one thing, coming out, it's taken some time to store that courage up. I ask him to put into words his fear of coming out. He responds,
Kind of like the same token about, like, [bi people] being the most discriminated against as opposed to the gays and the straights, you know? It seems like people think we cannot be monogamous and things like that, and have preconceived notions about us, you know? Especially about bi men, you know? The bi women are able to come out because it's like, almost like, an attractiveness. But bi men, it's like some people might think we're weaker or unmanly or something to that effect.
“What's your biggest fear, though, about coming out?” I ask him, wanting him to get more specific.
Probably the acceptance of people not accepting me. Because, I'd love to get into a relationship, but I can't seem to get into one, either by men or women. Women, I just feel like they don't even look in my direction. They don't even know I'm alive or anything like that. So I, you know, it's kind of like that, you know? I have a little bit easier time with men. But, women I don't even know if, you know, like I said, I don't even know if they know I'm alive or what.
I wonder if Christopher has ever been in a relationship. “Well, yeah”, he retorts. I inquire as to whether he identified as bi during those relationships.
Not straight out. I think, my first wife, she kind of had a suspicion that I was, and she, I think she somewhat accepted me, but didn't really want to come to terms with that, I think. And the second one, she kind of found out toward the end, and then she, kind of like, left after that point.
“Did she leave because you're bisexual”? I ask.
“I think that might be a very good possibility”, he replies.
It's happened before. It happens even during the dating game. You get on Tinder, Grindr, OKCupid and you meet a nice lesbian girl, the perfect gay guy, or an amazing straight person, and the moment they hear from your lips or read in a text or online that you're bi, you're immediately ghosted. Or even worse, they make a scene. In the mind of a bi person, it's confusing, that reaction. We love and we want to be loved as bi people. Yet, for some people, they can't seem to see beyond that.
And it's all because of stereotypes. It's been said that we're extra-promiscuous. It's said we're heart-breakers, cheaters, and only want open relationships. It's been said we're disease-riddled and spreaders of STDs.
The truth is: anybody can be like that, regardless of your sexuality. And another truth is, yeah, some bi people are the stereotype, but that's far from all of us, and in some of the above-mentioned instances, such as having casual sex or being in an open relationship or having a manageable sexually-transmitted disease, that's okay.
But, for the most part, bi people are just as shy or outgoing or boring or exhilarating or unorganized or well-structured or messy or impeccable as any other human being. It does seem that we have to fight the stereotypes created about us more so than any other sexuality, and they do harm us, those stereotypes. They affect us, emotionally and mentally. But, the more we come out and show the world that we are so much more than a collection of stereotypes, the more we can better reveal to everyone how normal we truly are. We really shouldn't have to prove ourselves, but we can have fun doing so.
Despite how we can at times get dissed by our own LGBTI community, Christopher does admit they are more accepting of us than our straight counterparts.
Maybe not fully, but the homosexual and, you know, some of those types of communities and then the gay community, they seem to accept us more than the regular normal straight community would. You know? I'd say more so.
I ask if Christopher identifies as only "bi", since we have so many labels to describe ourselves within the bi community. He replies quite condescendingly about all our terms,
Oh, I know. I can't even fathom all these labels. I'll give it to you like this: I identify as bi because, to me, bi means both, okay? You know, males, females. Men and women.
Editor's Note: Christopher expresses a fairly common misconception that the word bisexual means men and women. In fact, the word means two sexual orientations, so bi people express attractions to the same (homo) and different (hetero). There's more information on this over here.
I step in, because he obviously doesn't know, and I'm a bit frustrated that he doesn't understand the complexity of gender, but I get it that not everyone has gotten the memo yet. It's all still pretty new to the world, the explanations about non-gender-conforming individuals, despite the people being around FOREVER. I try to explain, "Well, I can explain it to you. Sometimes babies aren't born male or female. Sometimes they're born with ambiguous genitalia, meaning they are 'intersex.' 'Intersex' is the word now to describe this".
“Yeah, intersex”, he replies as if he's recognized that word.
“We used to say 'hermaphrodite,' but now we use the word 'intersex'”, I make sure to say.
“Oh, okay”, he responds.
I continue, "So, a lot of intersex people, now that they're older, they don't have to identify as male or female, because they're both; they're both male and female. So, a lot of these people identify as genderfluid, even some trans people. Several trans people I know, actually are intersex and so they are male and female. And they usually have a draw towards either male or female. But some people are just androgynous. I mean, I'm sure you've grown up with people that, you know: a really butch woman, you know, or a really feminine guy. Those people, they're less female and less male than you would normally expect. That's why I think they identify as genderfluid."
“Yeah, genderfluid and androgynous. Yeah, I know”, he interjects, trying to continue his train of thought. “So, intersex I could see, but when they're talking about, like, nonbinary, which, to me, it seems like, they're neither a male nor a female, I think is the way I understand it, and if they're neither, that means that they have no genitalia at all. They don't have either genitalia.”
“Well, it doesn't mean that. It doesn't mean that,” I say, feeling it's important to interrupt. (Wait until he finds out about "null".) "It's just a figurative thing. It doesn't mean it physically, necessarily. Here's the thing about intersex people: It could be something like a man having ovaries inside his body. Even though he looks like a man on the outside, he may have ovaries on the inside. There are women who are born without wombs. They don't have a uterus. But they have, you know, a fully formed figure of a woman on the outside, they just don't have the organs on the inside."
“So, it's internal”, Christopher inquires.
I reply, "Yeah, it's not necessarily external and sometimes it's down to the point of certain organs producing more hormones than normal. And I'm not talking about them taking hormones. I'm talking about your body not normally producing hormones, about producing hormones that a man would normally have, but you're a woman, or that a woman would normally have, but you're a man. And so I say a lot of times, sometimes trans people who are intersex, and nonbinary people, they have that situation going on inside that their bodies are producing hormones naturally, that you usually wouldn't suspect a person of that gender to be producing. So, it's kind of confusing for, you know, an intersex person or a trans person growing up when they have this strangeness going on in their body that doesn't fit with what we've been taught in biology books and stuff."
"So the internal is a big factor in that, I guess”, he replies. I feel he understands. And we shouldn't get angry when people don't understand right away. It's not part of everyone's life, and sometimes the information is slow-moving, despite our fast-paced surroundings.
Editor's Note: It is also worth mentioning that Chris seems to be conflating sex and gender. Sex has to do with the genitalia you were born with (and a few other physical traits), but gender is a cultural construct. Much of what we consider feminine or masculine, such as hairstyle, clothing choice, or speech patterns are culturally determined and have nothing to do with our genitalia.
I continue, because I feel there is more I need to explain, "So, I should tell you though that bi.org doesn't use that definition of 'both.' They use a different definition of 'both.' They use that being bi means that you're both heterosexual and homosexual. So you have both the feelings that a normal heterosexual person would have, and you have the feelings that a normal homosexual person would have. It's instead of it being both male and female, it's both sexual orientations, which is what bisexual initially meant because it's about sexuality. It's not about genders. So that's the definition they use. Every bi organization actually uses a different definition and the current popular one right now is from Robyn Ochs and she says that she has the ability to be attracted to people regardless of their gender not only just attraction, but she also feels, you know, romantic interest, as well, not just sexual but romantic."
“Oh, okay”, Christopher says as he absorbs this newfound information.
“And every bi person has their own definition, too”, I note. “That may be your definition, but not every bi person uses that definition. For me, I think of being bi as being fluid sexually. I feel like bisexuality is being drawn to whoever I'm attracted to regardless of their gender. You know, I've been attracted to men, I've been attracted to women. I didn't think I was attracted to trans people or intersex people, but over the years, I've realized there are beautiful trans people, there are beautiful intersex people. So I still use bi. It's kind of a slang term, I think for bi people and pan people and poly people for using the word fluid. So, I say fluid more often than not.”
“That's how I founded this organization called Fluid Array Foundation in Arizona for people that identify as more than just bi, 'cause you know, we have all these different labels.” I continue, "It's important to note that people have strong feelings towards their labels, and that's okay. I mean, we have lots of labels not about sexuality. You know, like, I'm a guy, I'm a man, I'm a boy, because I grew up as a boy. I'm a dude. In other countries, I'm a bloke or a gent, you know, there's all these different words to describe me as a man. Doesn't mean that I can only use one."
“Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, stud, dude, guy, gentleman,” he adds. “All lots of things.”
I ask if he just uses the word bi to describe his sexuality.
Yeah, cause I'm thinking two genders, you know? So, "bi" means "two", and all that. So, I'm, for the most part, not really attracted to, like, you know, trans or all these other things that they come out with. I'm, basically, you know, men and women, or males or females.
He's gone back to the "bi" means "two" thing. I've failed.
I ask Christopher if he has truly come to terms with his bisexuality. He confesses,
For the most part, because I'm trying to figure out, like, why someone would be ashamed of loving both. I mean, that's more open-minded than if somebody just loves, you know, one or the other. And, you know, if you love both that shows you're a very loving, affectionate human being, as opposed to, you know, just like half the population, because we love the whole population.
That's a great statement. We come out because we want to admit we love more than one gender. It's the norm for us. And now it will be the norm for Christopher.
This is Christopher's coming out story.
I'm glad you're coming out, Christopher, and I wish you the best in this new adventure.