Words by Charlotte O’Riordan
(DISCLAIMER: this is written based on personal lived experience, and an experience lived with much privilege – this may be an experience shared by many but not by all).
Coming out is a weird phenomena, it forms the idea that if we fall outside of cisgender heterosexual norms we have to announce ourselves to the world open to ridicule from all of those around us. It is a sickening rite of passage that many LBGTQ+ people feel they have to do, and for some it can even be something they want to do. But when you’ve already gone through the whole ordeal once, going through it again is not all that fun but at least for me it’s something that had to be done.
Up until I was nineteen I was under the strong belief that I was a lesbian, something that I still agree with as for that period of time I had no feelings towards other genders. But that quickly changed as I slowly started to develop feelings for other genders, something that at first caught me by surprise but eventually I began to understand that I was no longer the L in LGBTQ+ but now the B.
And as soon as that realisation sunk in came the reminder that I was going to have to come out again. Now this would have been fine had coming out originally had not been plagued with late nights crying myself to sleep with the anxiety of what might happen if coming out went wrong, what if I was thrown out or disowned by my friends – all of which fortunately didn’t happen but despite this my anxiety was very real and being reminded of that time in my life was not easy. Coming back to what had been a traumatic time in my life where my anxiety had a hold making up scenarios of all that could go wrong was troubling to me especially as in the years prior I had spent much time in therapy working through my intense anxiety.
So began the story of coming out again. It first started with friends, awkwardly bringing up the topic and then dropping the bombshell that I now identified as bisexual. Luckily this was taken well by my friendship group, many of whom are queer themselves, and my bisexuality was welcomed with open arms. Then I moved onto family, or my mum to be more specific, who quite simply wasn’t bothered in the slightest as she likes to remain the chilled ally on all things LGBTQ+. Overall, this was a fine experience but it didn’t take back from the flashbacks to fourteen year old me so scared of someone finding out that I wasn’t straight and fearful of what the future meant for me as a young queer person. Being reminded of such a painful time definitely took its toll on me and reminded me of how much healing I had to do for my younger teenage self, wishing I could give her a hug and some chocolate reassuring her it would all be ok.
After coming out I assumed it would be smooth sailing but oh no biphobia came to say hello. All of a sudden I noticed a large amount of bisexual erasure, when bisexual people were in a relationship with someone of the opposite gender all of a sudden their identity was stripped from them leading them to be regarded as straight the same happened when in a relationship with someone of the same gender. This treatment towards bisexual people coming from people within the LGBTQ+ community and outside of the community was sickening to see, and even made me question whether I had done the same when identifying as a lesbian, it made me aware that being bisexual came with its own struggles and this time struggles that came from within the queer community as well as outside. I had previously been used to straight guys who claimed they could change me (as if they were some kind of vampire) and failing to end flirting when I announced my attraction to women but biphobia hits from inside the community and it was painful to see and come to terms with.
Eventually, life settled down and here I am almost two years on, comfortable within myself and my sexuality. Coming out again proved hard to navigate at first but the support of friends, families and even the odd stranger proved to be immense in allowing me to live true to who I am.
Coming out once, twice, three times or even more isn’t something that people should feel is a requirement of queer life nor should it have to be a big momentous occasion (unless you want it to be) but for so many of us this is still not the case and we feel some kind of need to come out, to announce ourselves to the world – discussions around the issues of feeling this obligation can be saved for another article. But if you are wanting to come out just know that you have a whole community behind you, and you can do it however many times you want as long as you are comfortable.