There must be some sort of cheat code for being about to understand what it is that we are. Surely? Or something that at least comes with age? Experience?
Sorry if that’s crushed anyone’s dreams of being able to self-identify with a thousand percent confidence or foresight of the future. That’s just not how these things work. There will always be doubt or insecurity or fears that you’ve made the wrong decision or ‘come out’ prematurely before you fully know what you want. Well, sucks to that, because to ‘know what you want’ relies on you knowing ‘who you are’.
Not only that, it requires you to know ‘who you will be’ in the future, where there is a pressure to somehow be able to predict and label your life before it has happened. You don’t expect authors to write the chapter title before they’ve written the chapter, so how can we really be expected to self identify and self-label with confidence when it has become such a politicised overwrought anxiety for many. Speaking for myself (as I wouldn’t wish to erase the countless individuals who take pride, solace and security in embracing a title), I find the whole thing extremely stressful.
Not only the commitment to a label for the rest of my life, but the notion that in going public, everyone else gets to/has to bear witness to how I live my life according to that declaration. Do I live my life ‘gay’ enough or am I ‘straight passing’? Do I do enough for the community? Am I denying a part of myself by not always shouting about my sexual identity?
Am I a bad person for not always being fully comfortable in who I am?
These are questions we all inevitably ask ourselves and there’s no right answer to any of the questions, just like there’s no ‘right’ way to do ‘be’ gay. This difficulty in self-identifying and the pressure to ‘come out’ and then ‘be true to who you are’ often caves in on the weight of its own importance. This is more of a compulsion or feeling of responsibility to other people than making me feel more at ease with myself. This is particularly true of the various social and cultural implications of being bisexual. So many TV tropes have individuals who are flighty, cheat on their partners, have gratuitous threesome sex scenes, and generally aren’t respected or given dignity in their portrayal has made it difficult to know where you stand within that reception of bisexual people.
Am I ‘bi enough’ or does the fact that I’m in a relationship with a person of the opposite gender mean that I pass as straight and don’t experience bisexuality in the same way as those with same sexual partners? All of these anxieties and self comparisons are tied up in the notion of permanence. The threat that we might have made a mistake isn’t the recognition that our feelings aren’t valid at this moment, but it’s the awareness that sexuality is fluid and things change. We understand this more than most.
I did come out in the end, but only really as a courtesy; just some vague ‘I probably should’ knee-jerk reaction that I felt I ‘owed’ them.
Sure, coming out opened loads of doors but I fell through most them before I could see what was inside.
In one respect my parents were the one ‘coming out’ that I couldn’t take back, that I had to stick with, but also it was the most meaningless in the sense that we didn’t talk about my love life before and we certainly don’t know. It wasn’t an event horizon, I just assembled the family after a watching a football match in the living room and had it out. My parents are trying to relearn much of what they and everyone before them were taught, which I appreciate but also resent, somehow.
I need to figure myself out first before I let people in.
So when I talk about heartbreak, I’m talking about the moments you give your heart to someone else and expect it safely returned to you. I don’t blame anyone for this specific type of heartache. I know that I have my own emotional self defence barracks that stop people getting too far in. but that doesn’t really apply to parents. Even if coming out was relatively painless. Something still came loose and I’m not sure it wasn’t my heart.