Post submitted by Katy Butler, George Washington University student

National Coming Out Day, which occurs this Saturday, October 11, celebrates coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. Whether it's for the first time ever or the first time today, NCOD is an opportunity for you to celebrate who you and your community are.

Celebrate NCOD all week long with HRC.

As soon as I figured out what bisexuality was I came out as bi.  Then I started dating my first girlfriend and everyone I knew labeled me as a lesbian. It wasn’t because they thought I only liked girls. They were simply labeling what they saw.  As I became a part of the community through my activism and after school activities, I also became comfortable shutting out a part of my identity.  It was easier to assimilate to a community that I felt I mostly fit into rather than stand on my own and hope other people would stand with me.  That is, until my senior year of high school when I fell for a guy. 

I didn’t know what to do.  I had become so involved with the lesbian and gay community. They were my best friends and we had been doing local activism together for years. I didn’t want to do anything to ruin something that was so important to me. Honestly, I could have just ignored it and gone back to dating girls but I really liked him. I knew that if I wanted people to accept who I am I had to accept myself first. 

I didn’t want to tell my straight friends because I was afraid they would tell me liking girls was just a phase now that I “found the right guy”.  After hearing my gay and lesbian friends talk about bisexuality like it wasn’t real, I didn’t want to tell them either.  I didn’t want the activism I had done in LGBT community or in the anti-bullying world to be discredited because of whom I happened to like. I needed to tell someone how I was feeling so I talked to one of my gay friends about it.

“You don’t really like him; you’ll never be as satisfied with him as you would be with a woman,” he told me.

It hurt to hear that from someone inside what I thought was my own community.  Aren’t we all fighting for love and acceptance? I deserve to be a part of that no matter my identity.  I needed the gay and lesbian community that I fell in love with when I came out to be there for me and support me though my process of discovered and developing my identity but instead they made me feel more afraid to come out to my own community about liking a boy than I was when I came out about liking girls.

This is my experience, but what I felt and the conversations I had are not unique to me. If we all tell our stories we can be that visibility our identities need to show the world who we really are.  So many other young people are coming out and looking for a community who doesn’t force them into a label that doesn’t capture their whole identity! We have to let people know that there is more than just black and white when it comes to sexuality.  It’s a spectrum and figuring out who you are is a process, something I’m still doing every day.

We need to educate the people around us about what bisexuality is, and what it isn’t in order create allies and accepting communities.  We need to come out as who we really are and be proud of being bisexual.  We exist! Our identity is real and if we all step up and come out we can make our voices heard. 

 

For more on the troubling troubling chasm between the experiences of bisexual youth in America and their non-LGBT peers, read the groundbreaking report,  The Supporting and Caring For Our Bisexual Youth. 


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