Grace Kavanagh provides a personal account of her decision to ‘come out’ as bisexual, detailing her reception and anxieties surrounding it.
I have recently come out as bisexual. Although there are some people I have not told, for the most part, it isn’t something that I intend to hide at all.
The fact that I’m not just attracted to men has been something that I have thought about for a long time, but I always felt that I had to avoid the term “bisexual”, as for me, it only had negative connotations.
By the time I was fifteen, the only people who I had met who called themselves bisexual were my friends who openly admitted it was only so that they could get the attention of guys, which inevitably shaped my opinion of what being bisexual was.
A few years later, one of my friends came out as bisexual and was then constantly told that it was, wait for it… “just a phase”.
Although she dismissed these comments, it was always something that she had to defend, which I think made me sceptical at whether bisexuality could be a sexual orientation which people accepted.
A combination of these things made me constantly second-guess myself when it came to thinking about my sexuality, and the possibility that I wasn’t straight.
I clearly remember having a crush on one of my female friends and then trying to convince myself that I was forcing myself to like her, and that it wasn’t a real crush at all.
I continued to do this over and over, trying to repress any attraction I had to women telling myself that it wasn’t sexual attraction; rather it was a platonic attraction, and I simply wanted to get to know them better.
Looking back, I realise now that I have always had some kind of attraction to both men and women which my friends did not have.
I mentioned it one day that I sometimes was attracted to women as well as men not thinking anything of it, as I assumed at some point everyone, even if they were straight, were attracted to a person of the same gender.
My friends said that no, they never felt that way, which began to make me consider the idea that possibly I wasn’t straight.
Deciding to ‘come out’ was a big step which I felt that I was ready to take. I had thought of myself as bisexual for a while and I felt that I was ready to tell someone.
I was apprehensive about telling anyone at all but thought that it was important to make this first step to being openly out.
The reaction of the person I told was neither what I wanted, nor what I expected; I was made to feel guilty for feelings and attractions that I couldn’t help, which massively shook my confidence.
This made me question whether I should actually be telling anyone at all and massively shook my confidence when it came to embracing, and telling other people about my sexuality.
After that, it took months before I actually told anyone else. This time, it was during a casual conversation about sexuality with people that I didn’t know so well.
However, they were amazingly accepting and made me feel so much more confident than I had before.
It was such a relief to be able to say the words “I am bisexual” out loud and know that I wouldn’t be judged for it.
I then went on to tell more of my friends who all were extremely supportive and made me feel that it was something that I could celebrate rather than attempt to hide.
Since ‘coming out’, I’ve been open about it to people who ask, and I haven’t tried to hide it while I’ve been at university.
However, one question I am always asked is: “So how far have you gone with a girl then?” This always comes from people that I don’t know very well at all.
This question irritates me for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s an invasion of my privacy; just because I am attracted to women as well as men doesn’t mean that it is acceptable to ask how far I have “gone” with a woman. Secondly, it suggests that I can only justify my sexuality if I have actually slept with a woman as well as a man.
One of the anxieties I had when I decided to come out to more people was that would I be considered ‘bisexual enough’ for people to believe me.
At one point, I had decided that I would only come out to anyone at all until I had actually at least gone on a date with a woman, just so that I had proof that I was actually attracted to women too.
“…it took months before I actually told anyone else. This time, it was during a casual conversation about sexuality with people that I didn’t know so well. However, they were amazingly accepting and made me feel so much more confident”
As I was already was worried about whether I would be accepted as being bisexual, being questioned on whether I have ever gone out with a woman simply added to my anxieties.
Although realising my sexuality hasn’t always been easy for me, I feel much happier and confident in myself now that I have been able to not only come out to others, but also to myself.
In the back of my mind I was always subtly questioning whether I was actually straight or not and it was not until recently that I thought that I should consider it more closely.
Coming to university and seeing other bisexual people who are so open about their sexuality made me realise that the reactions and attitudes to bisexuality that I had experienced before shouldn’t shape my idea of what it is to be bisexual.
I think that coming out during the first term of university was probably easier for me as it was a way of being able to talk about it as if it was something that I had always labelled myself as, rather than making it into a big deal, which did mean I found it harder to tell people back home.
I don’t think that there will ever be a time where coming out won’t be daunting.
However, being surrounded by people who accept my sexuality has given me great confidence to be able to openly say that I am bisexual.