Sept. 23 was Bisexual Visibility Day. I took this day to reflect on my journey out of the closet, and what a journey it has been. The day I finally came out was definitely one for the books. Although there have been ups and downs, every day I’m proud of my identity.
My freshman year of college was a difficult one. I was still making friends, joining clubs and just figuring out what my interests were. At this time, I knew I liked girls, I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. I was in full denial.
Around the end of the first semester, I was joking with my roommate about how I liked girls and guys, but I reminded her that I was straight in the end. What a liar I was. When I finally told her the truth, I shed tears, telling her I still wanted to be her roommate and I hoped she still felt comfortable having sleepovers with me. She replied, “Rachel, we have been friends since 6th grade. I support and love you no matter what.” For the first time, I admitted who I was.
Fast forward to my first time attempting to talk to girls. I was not completely out of the closet, but I was not completely in it either. I met a lesbian girl through a mutual friend who made advances toward me. However, when I did not reciprocate, she blew up and said that “bi girls are promiscuous” and “don’t really belong to the community.” I was shocked. This was the first time I had ever been ridiculed about my sexuality, and it was from someone in my own community.
A few months later, I was talking to my soon-to-be boyfriend. I knew I didn’t want to get into a relationship until I was fully out. One night, while on the phone with him, I came out. I wanted to be upfront and had already accepted that he was going to lose interest in me. When I told him, he said, “Listen, I appreciate you telling me, but you have nothing to be ashamed about. You are still you, no matter your sexuality.” He inspired me to finally start accepting myself.
Last year, I joined the speech and debate team. Other than giving speeches in my classes, I had never been part of a speech and debate team in my life. I decided to try after-dinner speaking, which is a humorous speech event that’s targeted toward social issues. I wrote a speech about “making the first move!” According to the judges, it came off as very “heteronormative.” In their defense, all I talked about was how straight I was and how I loved boys. But heteronormative? Heck no! That’s not what I was going for. In true forensics kid fashion, I decided to be a little petty, but look classy while doing it. I kept the speech as it was and added a surprise. At the end of the speech, I came out as a bisexual woman. A little bit over-dramatic? Of course. But am I glad I did it? Heck yes.
Now that I have a boyfriend, there are still days where people ask me if I am really bi and challenge my sexuality’s legitimacy, which is an question a lot of bi people get asked when entering a heterosexual relationship. In the past, I would get upset, but now I am confident. No matter who I date, I don’t lose my identity and I don’t need to prove myself to anyone.
If you are currently in the closet while reading this, don’t feel discouraged. It is totally okay to come out when it is comfortable and safe for you to do so. You are still completely valid within the community. Coming out is a huge step that takes time and patience. Just know that you are safe, you are loved and you are wanted.