We are somehow now at the end of September, the 76th month of the year of 2020, so before it too slips away, there’s something I want to say.
Hi. I’m Matt. And I’m bisexual.
It’s been a long, long time coming for me to say those words aloud. For the longest time, I tried, desperately, to convince myself I was straight. To be straight. Having grown up Southern Baptist in the age of the infamous Ellen episode, I speak from experience when I say it can do a number on you. And so, my mind found infinite ways to rationalize things away. As an alternately fat and scrawny teenager, “it’s not that I’m attracted to that guy, I just want to look like him” is an awfully easy way to skirt around the issue.
Some years ago, when I did finally start to accept myself, I started introducing some external paraphernalia. A frame in June for my Facebook profile photo (but only in June, and only a generic rainbow one, as being more specific might raise flags). A rainbow band for my Apple Watch. Rainbow glasses frames, purchased in support of Pride Month, but which I wear constantly because they’re the most comfortable frames I’ve ever worn (there’s a metaphor for you).
While I was never confronted on anything (there are a few advantages to be a fairly sizable dude, I suppose), I was ready to dive behind “I’m not wearing them because I’m queer, I’m wearing them to be an ally, to help normalize their appearance as a way to support my LGBTQ+ friends.” And that’s completely true. I’ve long had queer friends of many stripes, and I’ve been behind them 100%, but I always felt ashamed at the pride I took in them living their lives while I failed to allow myself that same grace. Because everything I manifested externally had one thing in common: if pressed, I had plausible deniability.
This is because I was a coward.
Not this year. This year I don’t wear these items as an ally. This year, I wear them proudly, and openly, as a queer man. I wish it hadn’t taken as long as it did for me to be open about this. There are people I know who would support me without hesitation. There are also others, those rarified few whose opinions I value but whose minds I couldn’t predict with absolute certainty, to whom I’ve come out and been met with nothing but unconditional love and support, if a little bit of surprise as well (one quote: “I’m not going to say I’m not surprised…but I’m also kinda not?” My response: “Yeah, over the next couple of weeks you’ll be thinking back about me in the past and out of the blue you’ll be hit with an epiphany of ‘OHHH, THAT MAKES SENSE NOW.’”)
I’m not going to say that coming out is the best solution for everyone. It should be, but I’ve known too many people who were shunned by those who claimed they loved them, for doing nothing but being truthful about who they are. I can only hope for the positivity of my experience to be shared with everyone who struggles to come out, but I know that’s not going to happen. What I can say is that living in the closet, terrified of the truth, and then coming out to that unconditional love and support is one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.
This isn’t something I would normally talk about. But the more people who can be seen, the easier it becomes for everyone else.
Happy Bi Visibility Month.