You shouldn’t have to soft-launch your bisexuality – here are some tips on being loud and proud!
BY KATIE CHAMBERS, IMAGE BY RDNE STOCK PROJECT
It’s easy to go under the gaydar as a bi person, and this is both a blessing and a curse. There’s a ton of privilege that comes with being in heterosexual relationships, but it also means that it’s possible for someone to go for a long time without mentioning their bisexuality. People assume you’re straight, and life is easier that way. You’re not lying about it – you’ve found a neat little loophole where you’re just quiet about it, and only admit it if you’re asked point blank.
If this is you, be kind to yourself! It’s really comfortable in this loophole. But being bi shouldn’t be a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ thing – it’s something to be proud of. Being open about it takes a lot of bravery, but feels amazing. Disclaimer: it’s something I absolutely have not mastered, but I’m working on it – we’re in this together! Here are some tips to help us all be louder:
Say it out loud in front of people.
This is so much more powerful than you think. You can do this off-handedly, it doesn’t need to be a big ‘coming out’ moment, but I’ve found it makes all the difference. Start with one really supportive childhood friend, or even practise saying it to new people as they’re getting to know you. Being honest to your loved ones really helps you be honest with yourself, which is the first step to pride.
Don’t wait for a queer relationship to say it for you.
Have confidence – you don’t need sexual experience or a relationship to qualify your bisexuality! And don’t let a heterosexual relationship stop you from saying it – any partner should know you fully and love you for exactly who you are.
Avoid turning it into a joke.
(This one is absolutely directed at myself.) One way to be quiet about your bisexuality is deflecting conversations about it using humour. It might seem knowing and savvy, but it allows both you and the people around you to tiptoe around your sexuality, or even ridicule it. Make sure your friends have shown that they understand and love your bisexuality before you joke together about it. Once you know they’ve got your back, you’ll be able to giggle whole-heartedly with them about crushes and dating, rather than shutting it down with nervous laughter.
Experiment with fashion.
You don’t have to shave your head and buy Docs, but try thinking more deliberately about what you wear and who you’re wearing it for. Thinking about the way you present can really help you to interrogate who you are, and wearing bold outfits is a great way to self-express, and not feel like you’re toning yourself down to please others. I love this quote from Marlowe Tatiana: “If it makes you feel good, and there’s a pinch of fear that while in public someone may throw a comment your way or think it’s too much, wear it.”
Go on queer nights out.
If nights out are your thing, there’s genuinely no better way to ease yourself into queer culture. The venues are big enough and the lights are low enough that literally no-one is watching you, so although it might sound like a baptism of fire, a night out is actually perfect for someone who doesn’t like the spotlight to find their feet in the queer scene. More importantly, they’re safe and supportive events, so you can dance, dress up, flirt and generally leave your inhibitions at the door. Queer nights are always 10/10, and they’ll make you excited about being a part of this wonderful community. You belong there!
Another one for the introverts – writing it down really does help. Repressing your sexuality can lead to a bunch of difficult emotions: fear, shame and resentment, to name only a few. These need processing, and unpicking them on paper can help debunk worries like “people will think I’m weird” or “I don’t know how to approach women”. It can also be a good way to assess the toll quiet bisexuality is taking on your mental health, and a therapist can really help with these tough feelings if they look overwhelming.
Find a queer community.
Especially if you’re straight-passing, it might be that most of your friends are straight, which can feel quite isolating. Whether it be online or in person, try reaching out to someone who’s queer, or, even better, a bisexual person who’s been through a similar experience. There’s no better feeling than someone who completely gets it, and you’ll probably find yourself talking about being bi without thinking twice.
Don’t worry about being ‘consistent’.
You don’t have to know exactly what being bi means for you yet – it’s a fluid way of being, and you’ll probably find it constantly changing. You can decide to present as masc, and then choose to dress more femme; you can choose to be celibate, and then choose to be very un-celibate. It’s not a brand that you need to maintain – it’s you as a human being, and humans change and grow.
Don’t worry about being ‘inexperienced’.
Keeping your bisexuality on the DL might mean you haven’t had much or any experience being involved with women/non-binary people. That is 100% ok. Kind people who are worth dating are not going to judge you for being new at this, and everyone has to start somewhere. You also don’t need to date or have sex at all.
Date – if you’re feeling brave.
First dates are petrifying anyway, and your first queer date…yep, it’s scary. But it’s AMAZING, and a good date will make all these other steps so worthwhile. But no matter how your date goes, if you do this, come home and give yourself some kind of reward – that’s brave.
Think about representation.
One of the things that makes me feel tangibly braver is thinking about how much bisexual representation means to me. Seeing someone being proud of their bisexuality makes a quiet bisexual feel so validated and hopeful – you could be that person for somebody else! Not only will living your truth make you feel better, you’re helping to break norms that imprison other people. That’s a pretty good reason to turn up the volume on your bisexuality.
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