Until twenty-four, I identified as straight and dated nobody.
From twenty-four to twenty-eight, I identified as gay, and dated only men.
Now I identify as bisexual, and I’ve been dating a woman for six months.
I’ll leave aside the mental struggle that underlay these switches in stated orientation, since I’m not really prepared to talk about that. But what I will say, for those who’re thinking about coming out as gay or as bisexual, that in my case neither of these comings-out was nearly as bad as I imagined it would be.
Beforehand, I never thought I’d be pariah or an object of hatred. Nor did I think my family would reject me. But I did think that there’d be some ridicule and some awkwardness. But there’s really been none. In all cases, it was as simple as telling people that my identification had changed, and that was that.
I know that there’s been some gossip about these changes when I haven’t been around, but you know what? That really doesn’t bother me at all. As long as I don’t hear it or know about it, gossip is actually good, since it means I don’t need to have nearly as many coming-out conversations.
When you’re an adult, and particularly when you’re thirty(!) people will mostly take you as you present yourself to them. You can be whatever you want, and people (at least in the milieu’s that I’ve inhabited) will more or less be like, “Okay, sounds good.”
Given this experience, I regret all the fuss and worry on my part, since there was really no need for any of it. In both cases, my comings-out were accomplished within the course of a few weeks, and then they were pretty much done. It’s impossible for me to overstate how much of a non-event this all was.
Most of you are probably like, “Duh, why would it be an issue?” But I have so many friends who are curious about sleeping with people of the same sex, but they’re afraid of moving too quickly. Before they identify as gay or bisexual, they want to be sure. But it’s that very lack of public identification which makes it so difficult to find someone and have sex with them, so that you can finally be sure. If you’re not out as someone who’s attracted to people of the same sex (or, in my case, to people of the opposite sex) then you’re really restricted in the ways that you can search for someone to be with. If you want to have sex with men, it’s a little easier, since there are various ways to casually pick up a guy. But if you’re looking to have sex with women, you’ve got to put in a fair amount of work, and it’s hard to do that if you’re not out as someone who’s attracted to women.
I guess what I’m saying is that when you’re sitting alone with these feelings, then it’s easy to think there’s a penalty for not being sure. But, in my experience, there’s not. You can say one thing, and then four years later you can change your mind, and it’s totally fine.
Dating, of course, is something different. I could write reams on the difference between trying to date men and trying to date women, but that’s not what this post is about.