Recently, I came out as bisexual through the use of Facebook's new "came out" feature, I timed this to fall on National Coming Out Day, hoping that it would create more positive reactions from family and friends.
The response to my post was almost immediate, I received congrats from friends and family but also a few negative comments from close family and friends. The negative comments led me to question if I should have kept quiet and continued to hide my sexuality. The answer I have found for myself over the last few weeks is that no, I should not have to continue to hide pieces of myself to appease family and friends but perhaps I should have prepared myself better mentally to "come out" in such a bold fashion.
So for those of you considering coming out as bisexual or for those of you curious as to what someone you know may be going through as they come out as bisexual, here are the five tips I wish someone would have told me before I came out as bisexual to all of my family and friends.
1. Start where you need to.
Personally, when I began my journey of coming out of the closet as bisexual, I started small. I knew that the reactions from the first few people I revealed my sexuality to would pave the way to my decision to come out to my extended family and friends.
The first person I came out to could not have been a better choice, this friend not only allowed me to explain my feelings but validated me in how I felt about my sexuality, something I had no idea I needed to hear until that moment. If you're like me and worried about coming out in a bold manner, start small, but if you need to do it all at once, do that.
There is no set way to "come out", coming out of the closet as bisexual is a journey and a path that everyone takes differently.
2. Make sure you're coming out for yourself - not because someone else wants you to.
Once I began telling more people about my sexuality, the opinions on who I should tell quickly flowed in.
I had many people tell me that the order in which I chose to reveal my sexuality to people was "unfair" as certain people had the "right to know first". This is simply not true, my journey is coming out was a difficult one due to many circumstances and I had every right to choose who I came out to and when. If you're in a similar boat, understand that only you get to decide who you come out to and anyone who tells you differently is being "unfair" to you.
Also, if you are in a relationship with someone who has already come out and they wish for you to come out, understand that they're already made their journey to coming out and they do not get to hurry yours along for their own pleasure. You are your own person and your sexuality is yours to own as you please.
3. Understand that while every reaction should be positive - not all of them will be.
This tip goes back to coming out as bisexual for yourself and not because someone else wants you to, when I came out as Bisexual on Facebook many family members flocked to tell me that it was wrong of me to come out on Facebook.
They told me this not because they were upset with my sexuality but because they wanted me to tell them one on one instead of them suddenly seeing a Facebook post stating that I was bisexual. I told them all the same thing, that while I understood their negative reaction I would hope they would change them to positive reactions and understand that I chose to come out in a way that benefited my mental and emotional health rather than putting myself through the anxiety of telling every person one on one.
The easiest way to deal with negative reactions is to explain that your journey to coming out as bisexual was one you thought long and hard about and because of this you would hope that if they truly love you they would understand your decisions to come out in a way that benefited you.
4. Avoid becoming angry at ignorant comments - instead, use it as an opportunity to educate.
Many of my family members did not understand what being bisexual meant and therefore, many made ignorant comments that were hard not to become angry at.
Something my mother told me when I expressed my frustration at these ignorant comments was "don't become angry because [they] don't understand, instead educate [them]." I tried to keep this in mind when talking to a family member who had previously told me bisexuality was not real as "you're a lesbian when you're in bed with a woman and straight when you're in bed with a man."
Instead of giving this person a smart response such as, "what if I'm in bed with both", I chose to attempt to educate them and teach them what bisexuality means and how I feel as a bisexual. If you hear ignorant comments, while it is okay to become angry, remember to try to teach these people too, many times, you'll find that people are willing to listen and learn if they truly care about you.
5) Remember this is your truth and it is valid.
When dealing with the reactions from family and friends when you come out as bisexual it can be difficult to remember the reason you chose to take this huge step in your journey. Just remember that you did this for yourself and for your mental and emotional health. Your sexuality is your truth to own and it will always be valid no matter what anyone has to say about it.