By Hannah Heimer
I thought it would be easy to come out as bisexual, having grown up with two gay dads in a relatively liberal part of the world, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and continue to do. When I came out as bisexual, I got a lot of “OK, we’ll wait until you really come out,” or “that’s a fun phase to be in.” The worst was when I came out to one of my closest friends, only to be received with a smirk and a dismissing pat on the back. I declared my identity, expecting to feel relieved, to step into a new, open part of my life, but instead, as I continued to come out, I continued to receive dismissing pats on the back; each pat added a hundred pounds to my heart until it grew so heavy that I crawled back into my shell, which is where I still live much of the time.
I thought it would be easy to come out, given that there exists an LGBT community, a place where I should be able to find solace, however I quickly learned that the B in LGbT is lowercase. When I walk into the LGbT club, declaring my bisexuality, my gay friends assume I’m in disguise or “half queer” and my straight friends outside of the club think I’m only exploring. I dangle in the gray space, misunderstood by both a community that is supposed to accept me and a community that doesn’t understand me. Many lesbians have strict rules against dating bi women, believing the stereotype that we will inevitably leave them for a man. So, I hesitate to say I am bisexual, but in the end, I do. I do because just like, without fail, the sun will rise as the moon sets every morning, I know I am bisexual. There is something in me that always remains the same, and despite the invalidation from the outside world, this something is impervious.
My first understanding of this was in sixth grade. I don’t remember my teacher’s name, but I remember the girl who sat two seats down from me. Her name was Gina. I remember recess and how my awkward 11-year-old, introverted self didn’t know how to talk to her. I remember the confusion when I also couldn’t stop thinking of John, the boy who sat two seats behind me. My two dads had always told me I could love whoever I wanted to love, but could I love both a girl and a boy? I remember coiling into myself, I remember the stomach ache I got from not understanding. I’ve kept this with me for most of my life and have finally grown into it. I’ve shared it with a few close people, but for the most part I’ve kept it guarded under my veil.
If you asked my friend, Sofia, she’d tell you that I bring up the topic of identity more than anyone she knows, and in the most unlikely of places — in the shower, over coffee, on the toilet while she’s in the stall next to me. It is the lens from which I see the world, and therefore, the lens that I am obligated to share. It pains me that the lack of community and understanding of bisexuals forces us to stay in our shells for most of our lives. That’s why I try to do what I can to peek out of my shell, to take the bitter cold winds directly to the face, and become more resilient in the face of misunderstanding, because if we want to make the B uppercase, we must make it known that we are here.
—Hannah Heimer is a graphic designer and writer who resides in San Diego. A previous health-tech writer for Neurovalens, she now runs her own creative designing and writing business. Hannah focuses on writing short stories, poems, and creating graphics for outdoor companies. Check hannahheimer.com to view her other work and to learn more about her life as a bisexual woman growing up with two gay dads and a bisexual mom. Hanna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.