Coming out is harder than people think. Being part of the LGBTQ community is more accepted than it was in the past, but, unfortunately, not everyone is 100% accepting of this new inclusivity. When coming out, you don't know how the people closest to you will react.
Will they tell you your sexuality is wrong? Will they look at you differently? Will they treat you differently? Everyone's experience is completely different. In honor of Celebrate Bisexuality Day, I asked five individuals what it was like to come out as bisexual, here are their stories:
"I've known I was bi since I was 15. I came out to my friends at 18, but I still haven't come out to my parents. My friends were really supportive, but my boyfriend at the time was super Christian and told me that he was just going to "ignore it." I feel so happy when I'm allowed to be myself! But I'm scared of ruining my relationship with my mom because she and I are really close. Not being out to my family has really halted a lot of dating opportunities for me, because I don't want my partner to feel like they are a secret."
"I've known I was bi my entire life, I came out when I was 15, waiting 15 years before coming out. At first, it was pretty rough for both of my parents but I think it was just a learning curve for them. Now they are nothing but supportive. It felt amazing when I first came out and I still feel amazing now. Coming out lifted such a weight off my chest."
"It took me about a year or so to come out when I was 19. My mom's reaction was "I wish it were April fools'" but my dad said, "I will support you no matter what." But when I finally did it, even though I had a bad reaction from my mom, it was a relief to finally tell my parents so I could finally be my true self. When I came out to my friends, I had great reactions from everyone. I called my best friend in the middle of the night and told her and all she said was "WHY did you think I would care?? It's the middle of the night and I was just sleeping so I'm going to bed again good night.''
"I've known I was bi since eighth grade, and it took me nine years to come out when I was 20. I was surprised to have nothing but great reactions from both my family and friends. The only negative reaction was that most people I went to high school with didn't believe I actually could be, but I didn't care. But everyone else was so supportive, even those I rarely talk to. My dad said it best: "I want to say thank you for telling me, but I don't really care. I mean that in the most sincere way possible, your sexuality doesn't matter to anyone but you." I feel like I can breathe now that I can be myself and not have to hide anymore."
"I realized when I was 17 I liked girls. I came out to my friends when I was 19, I haven't come out to my family just yet. The reactions were mostly neutral/positive, lots of doubting I'm sure. I felt very lost and confused and sporadic when I came out. I'm finally happy and really intimidated now that I'm embracing my gay side at 24!!!"
Theresa, female, 24
At the end of the day, one feeling that most everyone describes when coming out is a relief. It's freeing, it feels like you can breathe for the first time. No matter how different people's experiences are, they're happy to be true to themselves.