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“I’m in college and just overheard my roommate telling her friend she doesn’t support marriage equality or parents telling their children it’s ok for girls to kiss girls. We’re friends but she doesn’t know I’m bisexual because I have a long term boyfriend, but this really got to me. I want to assert my pride and values but at the same time don’t want to ruin our friendship. Any advice?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Here’s the deal, your friendship is already kinda screwy. You ALREADY feel weird about the situation. Not saying something is only making you feel a little bit worse and it’s not making your friendship any better.

I would say something, but be kind in doing so. These kinds of conversations can go sour pretty fast if you’re trying to tell someone their beliefs are wrong. Being away at college is complicated, too, because you’re finally in an environment where you aren’t completely clouded by the thoughts / opinions of your parents and your parents friends, etc. You finally have a chance to start learning about the world in a different light, you finally get to meet people who are different from you, you finally get to experience life as your own and come to understand the way you truly feel.

Say to your friend, “Hey, I overheard you saying some stuff and I wanted to have a conversation. I do identify as bisexual and I know that you might not be totally okay with that, but we are friends and I do value our relationship. I just kind of wanted to talk to you about those things because what you said hurt my feelings and I just wanted to clear the air a little bit.”

I guess I sounded a little bit like a robot, but like YOU GET THE GIST. Be kind, recognize that people opinions can change, take into account that she was saying a bunch of things back when she had no idea that it would affect one of her close friends.

 

Kristin Says:

Hm. Well, in my opinion the key word in this question is “roommate.”

If this was a friend of yours, period, I would say one MILLION percent follow Dannielle’s advice above and have a respectful conversation with your friend. In that scenario, generally one of two things will happen: 1) Your friend will have a meaningful dialogue with you, both parties will feel mutually respected, and the friendship will deepen, or 2) Your friend will respond poorly to your words and reject your identity or make you feel disrespected in some way, and the friendship will wane. These are both excellent outcomes, because, as Dannielle already stated, you don’t want to deepen a relationship with someone who won’t respect your identity.

However, you have the added complication where, if the latter happens, you still are living with this person for the balance of the year.

With that in mind, I want to say:

It is March, which means you likely only have a couple more months of living in the same space. In this light, I think you should have that conversation as soon as you feel comfortable and ready.

Also, it issss March, so if you want to wait until the end of the semester and have the conversation when you are legit done living with this person, that is totally cool.

But again, it iiiiiisssss March. Just kidding, I don’t have another point that hinges on March …that just started to feel fun.

SO. The long and short of it all is: you have to navigate this situation as you see fit for yourself, and your comfortability. Your question is phrased in a way that makes me think you are worried about your friend’s feelings more than your own While I appreciate your big heart, that should not be your central focus. Your friend has said words and expressed views that invalidate you as a person. Your feelings are hurt, and they matter more than enough to be spoken, regardless of what that means for your friendship.

I agree with Dannielle that you expressing your position doesn’t need to automatically throw her in the “wrong” bin as this will likely make her defensive, but she has to learn that her opinions and words affect other people around her. Maybe you will be the first bisexual person she knows, and maybe hearing how her words affected you will open her eyes to the real, lived experience of so many people around her.

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"Even if you may not have much experience with helping bisexual guys, I don’t know where else to turn to. My family is not very religious, so that isn’t the problem, but my dad is kind if conservative. Although bisexual, I see myself in the future with another guy. Should I come out to them as gay, because I fear that if I tell them I’m bi, they will focus towards the fact that I still have a chance with a girl, and ignore the fact that I like guys as well. Please help, I’m a junior in highschool"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think this is totally up to you and what makes you comfortable. I think if your parents want to believe you’ll end up with a girl, that will come REGARDLESS of how you identify. When people aren’t totally comfortable with someone’s identity, they tend to make excuses. They try to brush it off, ignore it, figure out when it will “go away,” and do just about anything they can to avoid actually having a conversation and changing their views.

I think if you come out as gay, and date some men, then end up with a woman, you’ll do a bit of damage to your own feels and identity. Because once you meet a woman, your parents might say, “see! it was just a phase!” or “we knew you weren’t really gay!” or “thank god THAT is over!” and all of those statements are super hurtful. They also completely erase who you are, which is a bisexual-identified guy.

I also think it completely sucks how often the bisexual identity is treated like shit. People INSIDE the LGBTQ community will be jerks just to be jerks and like… THE B IS IN THE ACRONYM PEOPLE. It’s not fair to tell someone to ‘choose,’ it’s not fair to erase someone’s identity, it’s not fair to make someone’s coming out even harder, when you are supposed to be the support system. Your parents may make it harder on you, the community may make it harder on you, but you know what? This is who you are, you are a bisexual dude who should feel comfortable coming out as such and should stick by your identity because the people who give you hell don’t know what they’re talking about.

Be proud of who you are, and don’t ever do something because you think it’ll be easier for someone else. Especially when it involves your coming out. This is YOUR coming out. It will be a process and it will be hard. It seems to me that you think it’ll be hard no matter what, so why not have a hard process and know deep down that you were completely honest and true to yourself.

Kristin Says:

Hooboy, can I identify with this question, and damn did Dannielle just totally shed more light on my own experience. I know this isn’t about me, Anon, but let’s walk this one together, shall we?

I came out to my parents, initially, as bisexual. I didn’t know what I was, really, but I just felt as thought I was attracted to all sorts of people, and girls were definitely included (annnnd kind of at the top of the list). Past that, I had no clue what to call myself, so I went with bisexual… and that word made things so goddamn difficult with my mom (mind you, they would have been difficult regardless).

The word bisexual, however, wouldn’t allow her to let go of the idea that I could still like boys and that if I just met one — if her prayers could be answered — everything would be okay again. So, after a short amount of time dealing with that nonsense I said EFF THIS, and I came out again as gay. Gay gay gay mom, I will never be with a boy, stop your dreaming, I am GAY. I just wanted her to shut up and stop hoping that I’d be someone that I wasn’t…

I still didn’t really know what I was (I still really don’t, but bless the word ‘queer’ to that end). All I knew was that I liked girls and I kept dating girls, so why not just say the word that might help my mom let go of her hope and start accepting me for who I was… right? Well, not really. It did help out a bit in the beginning, because the finality of my statement forced her to let go of some of the hoping… but ultimately I was exactly where Dannielle says that you may be: I was then horrified that I’d meet a guy and have my entire identity erased.

What’s more, my false declaration of my identity closed our conversation off in a place that wasn’t true, and it also closed off my mom’s understanding, for the time being, of the complexities of sexuality and identities.

Biphobia is a real and present thing in this world — and it’s by speaking out about our identities that we can shake the misconceptions and the bullshit away. That said, this is your identity and your experience — and so the right answer here is what feels right to you. At the end of the day, work as hard as you can to be true to yourself and remember that your mom has the capacity, over time, to understand that your sexuality (and all that goes with it) is far more complex than and either/or experience.

(Shameless plug alert: This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids totally kicks this question right in its teeth. In the good way. <3)

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"Telling my parents I am bisexual was the most difficult thing I have done in my life, but when I did they just thought it was a joke, for them it is the mix of 'you are just in a phase' and 'it is because everyone is gay now days'. I do not know how to talk to them about it because they will just say 'you are not, you are just confused.' How should I handle this?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by AJ Walkley as a part of Everyone is Gay: Second Opinions.

AJ Says:

When I came out to my mother as a college student, I received the same lines thrown back at me – “It’s just a phase,” being a particular favorite. I let the matter go for a while, not bringing my sexuality up in front of her in the hopes that she just needed time to process this new information. Just as it had taken me years to come to terms with my bisexuality, it was only fair to take a step back and give my mother the opportunity to wrap her mind around it as well.

For those who can’t grasp the concept of someone being attracted to people that span the gender spectrum, I like to explain it as follows: a straight man may be attracted to blonde-haired women, red-headed women and brunettes, but he may ultimately choose to date a blonde; that doesn’t mean he is no longer attracted to red heads and brunettes, however. This is similar for many bisexuals: we may be attracted to people who are the same as us and who are different from us, but many ultimately decide to date and possibly marry just one individual.

The myths and misconceptions around bisexuality are plentiful. Fortunately, we are living in a time where bisexual visibility is booming and there are many resources you can utilize to help educate your parents on what bisexuality is and isn’t. Media sources like The Huffington Post, The Advocate and now even GLAAD are posting numerous pieces on bisexuality and the bisexual experience on an almost weekly basis. Scroll through some of the stories on these sites and choose a few to share with your parents. There are some great pieces out there explaining how bisexuality isn’t synonymous with polyamory; why bisexuality isn’t a “choice”; and more pieces dispelling the myths about this sexuality than anyone can count!

There are also more and more bisexual celebrities coming out of the closet. Actress Anna Paquin recently appeared on Larry King and answered his questions about bisexuality to the applause of the greater bisexual community. Why not share the video with your loved ones? They may be able to understand you a bit more as a result. If they’re not into entertainment, you can also point to out and proud bisexual politicians, like Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. Perhaps the more people in the public eye your parents recognize and accept, the easier it will be for them to accept your bisexuality as well.

While my own mother is still not completely comfortable talking about my bisexuality, she now acknowledges that this is who I am; it may have taken us years to get here, but we’re here now and I know you can get there with your parents, too.

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"My 13-year-old recently told me she’s bi. My husband and I are both totally cool with it, as is our 11-year-old son. The problem is my family. I’m worried that my dad and his wife are going to react badly. I’m close to my dad, but I would do anything to protect my kids from getting their feelings hurt. Any advice on how to talk to him about this? I just want to protect my little girl’s feelings, ideally without having to distance myself from my dad."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

My first suggestion is you talk to your kid about what they want. You might find that your daughter ALSO doesn’t want to tell your parents. Maybe she, too, feels like it would be more trouble than it’s worth.

On the other hand, she might feel her identity is worth the trouble. She might prefer to have hurt feelings over (technically) lying about who she is. This varies from person to person. I don’t care if people know my identity. If they know, they know, if they don’t, who cares?! It doesn’t affect them at all and I will live my life open and happy, regardless. However, I have friends who would rather be disowned by their aunts and uncles than hide who they are.

I think what it comes down to is that it isn’t really your choice. The feeling of wanting to protect your daughter at every turn is completely understandable. In fact, it’s fantastic and noble and wonderful and sweet. However, it isn’t realistic. The same way you can’t protect your daughter from a broken heart, you can’t protect your daughter from people who want to disregard her identity or, even worse, hate her because of it.

Your parents might surprise you. They also might NOT surprise you, but if you don’t give them a chance, you’ll harbor a resentment toward them for no reason. If you talk to them (if that’s what your kid wants) you at least have the chance to (as aforementioned) be surprised. OR you have the chance to start that dialogue, to talk to your parents about their concerns, to express your personal upset with their negative reactions, to really help them understand why you daughter is still the same kid she has always been. You have a chance to talk to them about what, until now, was just a very distant idea about the way people identify. Now they have the opportunity to learn from someone they know and love. It’s a cool and very powerful thing. It may take time, but better to invest time then to give up before you’ve tried!

Kristin Says:

I agree with every word that Dannielle said up there: talk to your daughter first & tell her your concerns, move forward together as a team, and (here’s the point I want to elaborate on) allow your parents time for their process, should they need it.

Of course you want your child to believe that anyone’s love for them could never be affected by who they are… and for the most part, that’s actually completely true. Even people who throw their children out of their homes because of who they are tend to have the exact same amount of love for that child… their love just twists and turns into something horribly ugly because they do not have any tools to process the information at hand.

Now, it doesn’t sound like the response of your father would be so extreme — but even if it is a minor upset, it is sure to cause you pain. Probably, in all honesty, more pain than your child. Either way, it will not make any member of your family feel good… but the most important thing to remember is that the love your parents have for you or your child isn’t going to change — it just may bend and shift as it navigates new territory.

Your dad may not know as much as you do about the LGBTQ community. He may have opinions rooted in things he has heard over the past several decades. My mom was raised Roman Catholic and when I told her that I was gay, we went through over a decade of struggle as we worked through her beliefs, understandings, and love for me.

Don’t be afraid to tell your child that some people — even people who love her — need time to process. Is it ideal? No. However, in the world we live in, it is a reality — and a reality that you and your child will now see even more in your day-to-day lives.

Last thing: Regardless of how your parents react, your kid has the incredible advantage of having YOU in their corner. If your dad says something off base, it is obvious that you will go to bat for your kid. I have had that experience from the kid-perspective, and I cannot tell you the love and pride that fills your heart when your parent stands in strong solidarity with you.

Thanks for being so wonderful.

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