This Is Not A Coming Out Letter

Guido Gonzalez/PantherNOW

Ursula Muñoz Schaefer/Opinion Director

For many people, coming out is an act of courage and the beginning of a new chapter in a life that can now be lived more freely. For others, coming out encapsulates everything wrong with a heteronormative society and the idea that straightness is the default.

Both are valid.

I’m someone who identifies as bisexual. For those of you who aren’t fluent in Queer, that means I like both men and women—or at least in my case it does; there’s been some debate about what bisexuality means in recent years and how it differs from other orientations, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

As Pride Month continues its streak, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about where I stand on the topic of coming out.

For years, I told myself I didn’t feel the need to make an announcement. There isn’t anything good, bad or inherently interesting about my sexuality, so there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. I would just be who I was, and figured people would notice for themselves.

There isn’t anything good, bad or inherently interesting about my sexuality, so there was no reason to make a big deal out of it.

A quick Google search made me realize I wasn’t alone in this. A Pew Research study from 2019 found that only 19% of bisexual men and women say they’ve come out to the most important people in their lives—a stark contrast to 75% of gays and lesbians. And while I couldn’t find much that had been written on the topic of not feeling the need to come out, what I did find—Reddit threads and articles by anonymous authors—was written by people who identify as bi too.

Granted, a lot of these pieces project internalized homophobia. Some even voiced insecurities about the stigmas around bisexuality and suggested that it was because of this—and not personal preference, which is a perfectly normal occurence for many bi people—that they lean towards the opposite sex. In fact, a lot of these sentiments are ones I’ve heard echoed in conversations with other bi people in my day to day life as well.

So until recently, I told myself that coming out wasn’t a necessity if I wasn’t hiding anything. I put the bi flag colors in my Instagram profile and carried Pride pins on my college satchel until they eventually fell off. I’d thirst tweet about my favorite celebrities—male and female—and agreed wholeheartedly whenever a conversation revolved around someone I thought was attractive, no matter the gender. 

Never mind that nobody I knew in real life—save for like three people—followed me on the account I tweeted about Cate Blanchett from. That I’d nod “yes” whenever anyone asked me if pink, purple and blue were my favorite colors when they read my IG bio. That the word choice when describing women in conversations with people I wasn’t officially out to (adjectives like “pretty” and “gorgeous”), wasn’t the same I’d use to describe men I felt equally attracted towards (“hot”).

That I never made an effort to correct anyone when they assumed I was straight—be it friends, family or strangers—however open-minded they were. 

The truth is, the approach I was taking—essentially just staying closeted and only referencing my sexuality on very rare occasions—was having the opposite effect I wanted it to. 

Blurting “I need more queer friends” in a conversation with other LGBT people at a party this one time probably made me sound like an out of touch straight girl, rather than someone trying to reach out and relate to the experiences of others. And I know I don’t owe the straights in my life any explanations, but because I’m someone who’s generally pretty closed off (this being a major exception), I’d sense confusion and awkward tension the few times I did “casually” mention liking women in conversations with people I wasn’t out to.

Having an honest conversation with myself made me realize I was scared to face the consequences of coming out the traditional way.

Having an honest conversation with myself made me realize I wasn’t doing any of it to challenge society’s norms or because I thought it felt liberating. I was doing it because I was scared to face the consequences of coming out the traditional way.

Would reunions with the more conservative members of the family get awkward? Would all my straight female friends suddenly stray away because of the selective homophobia often projected by liberals towards people of their own gender? 

Perhaps most awkwardly, would my mom think that I had been watching “Orange Is The New Black” for something other than the plot all those years we were invested in the show? I like Alex Vause, but I promise that wasn’t the case.

I’m privileged enough to have accepting parents, as well as friends who come from progressive circles. Still, I’m sure anyone who reads this and is considering the possibility of coming out feels a lot of these same anxieties, no matter their circumstance. 

I want to make it clear that having a good support system doesn’t invalidate these concerns at all. In fact, my story shouldn’t pressure you to even make that step if you’re not ready to. Maybe you are someone who has been able to successfully tread that line of not announcing yourself to anyone while still being open about who and what you like. And if that’s the case, then congrats—I’m jealous.

Ugh, maybe this is a coming out letter. But like any fluid sexuality, being bi already comes with heaps of existential quandaries, so I’ve decided to keep those at a minimum for myself.

Anyhow, I just remembered “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button”—starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett—is streaming on Netflix. I think I’ll go watch it now.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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