Coming Out

Easy at 17, possible at 28, tough at 40.

Some people actually physically recoil when I tell them – it's unbelievable.

Lots of 'straight' people never come out to their families or workmates, who if they knew the details of their relatives' or colleagues' lifestyles, would regard them as immoral.

At least it separates the wheat from the chaff, amongst one's friends. You realise who your real friends are at the end of the day.

I was having lunch with a woman. She was definitely a feminist, possibly asexual, a Taurus. Funny – I mentioned I was bisexual and she said 'I don't mind as long as you don't grab my knee under the table.'

Once I'd come out to myself about being gay, the whole world knew with a bang! I loved it …. It was a different kettle of fish though, telling people I was bisexual. I was absolutely petrified. I'm not afraid any more though.

The high point of coming out is putting the words into someone's ears or mouth but coming out should be seen as something that started in childhood and will go on forever. With every piece of knowledge we gain of ourselves we have something more to come out with. In coming out I am motivated by two things. On the one hand anger, verging on hate, and on the other the need for dialogue, and for mutual respect.

When I first discovered my lesbian/bisexual side I felt very positive and was very open about it – it was only later I realised my position was not generally accepted. I went through a lot of hiding, then discovered other bisexuals and am now feeling good about it, though isolated.

I've never identified as anything but bisexual – though it took quite a long time to find the term. So, in a sense, I've always been out. But considering assumed heterosexuality then, it was only when I was 17 and started talking about my feelings towards women that I came out. In the 6 years since then, I've been pretty much out to everyone – but people keep trying to push you back into the closet so it's a continuing process.

It's stuffy in the closet.

About 13, I decided to label myself bisexual instead of heterosexual, but only to myself. I never said it to anyone else but also never denied it. (I think because two of my closest friends were gay men and I didn't want to betray them. I never realised that I would be betraying myself also.) At 18 I came out suddenly and dramatically as lesbian to virtually everybody I knew and all within six weeks. I then spent the next three years revelling in new found lesbianism and/or suppressing my heterosexual side (although I think for the first six months I wanted to relate ONLY to women, because for so long I hadn't been able to). Then at 21 I managed, more or less, to accept BOTH (ALL?) (SOME?) sides of my sexuality and come out AGAIN as bisexual …. I'm changing all the time – wonder what I'll come out with next!

I carne out as bi (from heterosexual) to my parents recently in the current climate of AIDS consciousness. Then I told my mother that I had a male bisexual partner and could he visit with me on our way to a holiday. She took it wonderfully because I know that she was surprised. Her foremost worry was AIDS and that I might catch the virus and she didn't understand why I couldn't just pick one nice person and settle down. But she listened really carefully. She interrupted me once, when I said I was nervous telling her about my life after all these years, to grab my hand and say, 'Don't be silly, I'm unshockable, I want to know', which made me realise that some of my fears about telling her were quite unrealistic. We ended the conversation with me saying, 'I'm trying to read everything I can and learn all I can about AIDS, Mum', and her saying, 'I'll cut out and send you anything I see and tell you anything I hear.' I feel she's being a wonderful support and trying really hard not to judge me for having a different lifestyle to hers.

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