Meet Edo. Edo is in the closet.
Being bi never seems to be popular, unless of course it's as a fetish. So, it can be terrifying to tell even the people you trust the most that you are bi. I asked Edo to describe in one sentence their own fear of coming out bi to the world. Edo stated, “I've told a handful of people that I am bi (pan) and each time my heart climbs into my throat and I feel like I can't breathe.” You just want to be accepted and sometimes it seems you'll always be unacceptable.
I asked Edo whether they feel completely accepted by the straight, gay, lesbian, and ace communities. They remarked, “If I were to stick to some of the remarks on social media about bisexuals then I would have to say no. However, my personal experience has been different and the few LBGTQIA people I've come out to have accepted it without question.”
Sometimes, as bi people, we like to use a variety of words to describe our sexuality. And that's completely fine. We are a creative bunch, that's for certain. I wondered if Edo also used other words to describe their own bisexuality. Edo replied,“Genderfluid pansexual. I used both bi and pan to encompass more than the m/f. My attraction to a person has little to do with their anatomy.”
“I realized it in college when I developed a huge crush on a female. It surprised me how strong my feelings toward her was,” Edo said, regarding their realization that they knew they were bi. “Bisexuality wasn't a term I had in my vocabulary then, so I just accepted it as part of me. It wasn't until a few years ago that I adopted the label and have embraced it almost entirely. My reservation about owning my sexuality is due to many years of being subjected to the hate speech of the world toward those who aren't cis and het. I've internalized it and have been working hard to accept who I am and that there is nothing wrong with being the way I am.”
“My father uses many derogatory words about any homosexuals, not necessarily bi, and I will never come out to him,” Edo confessed when I asked them about some of the things they've heard from friends or family about bi people that would prevent themself from coming out to them.
When we aren't grounded among our own family we have to create another family of those like us, where it's important to feel safe, respected, and accepted. I wondered if Edo had found their community and if they participate with the large bi community that we have on the web. Edo replied, “Yes, I speak with several members of the community online and have found them to be a comfort. I'd love some more resources.”
I wanted to know if Edo had ever gone to an LGBT pride event, or been to an LGBT or LGBT-friendly bar or club or sought out any LGBT centers throughout our community to help them come to terms with their own sexuality and possibly come out completely. They said, “I went to my first pride this month. Where I live, I seldom feel comfortable in my own skin. It's like walking around with this red letter, thinking if the people I spoke with day to day would shun me if they knew about my sexuality. I found the strength to go to pride because I needed to feel what it was like not to have to feel the weight of that secret, to be around people who were like me in some way.” Fantastic to hear, Edo. Sometimes attending a Pride event can be exhilarating and that energy that radiates from others similar to you can be healing and affirming. When it feels like the world has pushed you down, that kind of crowd can definitely lift you up.
I wanted to know if Edo would ever come out and what would have to happen for them to do so. “Yes," they answered. "The ideal instance that would facilitate it would be global acceptance of love is love. The issue is gaining more confidence and accepting my authentic self. Then whatever the world thinks will matter less.”
Had Edo ever been in a same-gender relationship or in a relationship with someone who is also genderfluid? They related, “No. I was too scared to be different when I was younger. I haven't explored it as an adult because I met my husband when I was young and we've been together for twenty years.”
The negativity surrounding being bi in our world can sometimes be overwhelming, so I find it important to ask this last question as a way to end the interview on a high note, as being bi itself is a high note. When asked what about being bi brings Edo the most joy, they said, “I feel like I've struggled to accept my sexuality as an adult and the more that I accept it, the more freedom I feel.”
That is Edo'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?