This morning I spoke to a man who is in the process of separating from his wife and getting a divorce. He told me that he loves his wife, but after she found emails between him and other men that he was having sex with, their marriage broke down. He described himself as bisexual and equally attracted to both men and women. He went on to describe that he had not come out to his adult children or his friends and family because of how people see bisexuality. He feels that most people believe that bisexuality does not exist and that a man who claims he is bi is really just gay but cannot admit it. His wife has told him as much, which is very unfortunate.
I have met a number of men who say they are bisexual and I have no reason to doubt their attractions. I also think there is a lot of confusion about bisexuality and while many people see bi men as really gay under the covers, many other people understand the fluidity of sexuality. One of the reasons the younger generation has latched on to the term, queer, is that they do not like the binary nature of gay and straight and want to be more gender fluid.
A quote that I love, and keep on my desk at work, is from the end of a Washington Post article from 2014 by columnist Steven Petrow. He talks about his own shame and hiding at the fact that he had been molested as a child. A friend of his wrote these beautiful words in an email to him:
“Life seems to be a continual act of coming out, isn’t it? The boundaries we think are uncrossable, the unnamable corners of our soul that we live in fear of bringing to light . . . are the very regions that allow us to feel complete if we dare to explore them. So thank you for crossing borders, shining a light into those corners — they only make you more lovable, more admirable.”
The man I spoke to was in a lot of pain because his wife’s parents had invited his wife and children to their house for Thanksgiving, but had not included him. His wife was had told people, including his in-laws and children, that they were divorcing because he had been unfaithful to their marriage, but not, that it was with a man. This man was also afraid to tell his children, family and friends the truth, afraid of what their reaction would be.
The act of hiding, feeling that our truth is uglier than anyone else’s; that no one would understand; that everyone would turn agains us, is what has kept so many of us in the closet for way too long. While I do not know this man well, his story resonated with me. As I was planning to come out, first to my family and later at work, my mind would come up with a thousand reasons for not coming out that seemed so real. It was only when I pushed through my fears and the stories I was telling myself, to come out, that all the reasons not come out fell away. It takes courage to push past your fear and the voices in your head that seem so real, but the other side of coming out can be joyous and empowering.