BY BLAIZE STEWART
Coming out a little over two years ago, I expected there to be some negative backlash from the world in general. I was and am still well-aware of those out there that believe I am sick, confused or some sort of abomination against nature. While not thrilled at the prospect of facing these types of people, I was comforted by the knowledge that I was joining a new, welcoming community that would accept me for who I was.
However, after it became clear I was coming out as bisexual, I found myself facing backlash from this new community. It’s not to say that there weren’t those who were welcoming to me, but there were enough who weren’t to make me afraid that my new LGBTQ+ community was not going to be as supportive as I thought it would be. Sprinkled among the words of support, messages like this were consistently slipping in and, shockingly, they were coming from LGBTQ+ individuals:
- Bisexuality is just a phase.
- You’re confused.
- You have to make a choice.
- You’re a coward.
- Call me when you actually come out.
- You’re terrible for our community.
- You’re selfish.
- Go back to being straight.
- Prove it.
Despite all the support I was receiving, these messages hurt me to my core. As previously mentioned, I was not so naive that I thought my coming out would be met with universal approval, but I was blown away by the number of LGBTQ+ people who were suddenly attacking me for my sexual orientation.
I couldn’t understand how these people, who undoubtedly heard similar messages themselves during their own coming out processes, could be so appalled by my bisexuality that they would use the same language and messages that oppressors of the entire LGBTQ+ community use. I knew they understood the damage these types of messages could do to a person, yet here they were, piling them on to pressure me to conform to their idea of sexual orientation. They called for data, tangible proof that I am in fact who I say I am; they wanted me to “prove it.”
In response to these messages, I became defensive. I tried, often times without success, to convince these people that my sexual orientation is valid, that I am not confused or in the midst of some phase. I tried to explain that I did not come out on a whim, but after years of self-evaluation and thought. Yet it wasn’t and continues to not be enough for many individuals.
Moving forward, I am no longer going to play the “prove it” game. I am not the one that should have to explain myself; the ones that are attacking members of their own community should be the ones doing the explaining.
If you are a gay man telling me that I am confused, going through a phase or demanding stats to prove my bisexuality, then you need to stop. I should not have to validate my sexuality to you; my word should be enough. It is the height of hypocrisy for you to tell me that I am not able to proudly proclaim my sexual orientation and that I have to choose an option that you are comfortable with.
Oftentimes I’m hit with, “Oh, I know tons of gay guys who started out bi,” which apparently is seen as some truth bomb to blast me solidly to either the straight or gay side of the sexual spectrum. I don’t doubt that some men do come out initially as bisexual and then, upon further evaluation, figure out they are in fact gay; I’m sure the same can be said for the opposite situation. But it doesn’t invalidate bisexuality as a mere stepping stone to being gay, it just means that some people take different paths to figuring out their true sexual orientation.
I am a well-educated, competent adult who is more than qualified to figure out who I am as a person; I’d even go as far as saying I am more qualified than a stranger to understand what my sexual orientation is. However, even though I am confident in who I am today, these attacks still hurt and, what’s even more is they might dissuade young bisexual people from coming out.
Words, even from strangers, can have an incredible impact on a person’s life. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you expect the negative ones to come from external entities, not from within. If you are someone who is directing harmful comments to those struggling to find acceptance and understanding, then you should really reevaluate the role you are playing in the LGBTQ+ community. You can either be part of the problem and facilitate discrimination within, or you can be a positive person who is part of a warm, welcoming community. It should be a pretty simple choice.