When I was seventeen years old, I came out to my friends and family.
Although I had long had suspicions about my sexual orientation, it took me a while to find the courage to accept myself and come out as bisexual. Despite some not-so-pleasant reactions from my conservative Latino parents, the news went over fairly well.
Soon enough, I had found my community. My circle of friends in high school, and later on in college, included several like-minded friends that loved and accepted me for just who I was. Sometimes that included being a little too girl-crazy, and other times I was completely obsessed with a boy I’d recently met. Coming into my own as a young bisexual woman was fairly easy thanks to the supportive cast of friends that were there for me during every first date and every heartbreak.
There was the publicist who teased me with kisses in the rain, the teacher who loved bragging about me to friends, the morning news show producer who held my hand on the subway, the composer who took me to Mariah Carey’s Christmas show… and so many more. Throughout my twenties, I dated men and women with no end in sight. I never knew where my happy ending would lie, and I was satisfied with that.
Until I met him.
Shortly after turning thirty and moving to a new city, I met the person who would soon become the love of my life. And he happened to be a man.
Coming out as bisexual and dating as a bisexual had always been tricky up until this point. During my dating adventures, I was constantly faced with the many stereotypes about bisexuals that made others uncomfortable. I was introduced to jokes about my supposed inability to commit, told that I was simply biding my time until deciding whether I’m actually gay or straight, that I just enjoy the extra attention, that I can’t be happy with just one person, and worst of all, that people like me simply didn’t exist. And let’s not even to mention the women who wouldn’t date me because they thought I was “just experimenting,” or the men who wanted me to bring a girlfriend into our bedroom.
Despite all of it, I fell in love
Now my love and I are planning to get married. It’s definitely a happy time. I know that I’ve found the perfect partner for me—someone kind, thoughtful, caring, supportive, and more loving than I ever could have imagined. The fact that my love is a man is, to be honest, almost inconsequential… almost. The fact that he’s a man does actually present some tricky situations in terms of my bisexuality, how I have always viewed myself, and what others have come to expect of me.
My closest friends will forever be supportive of me, but casual acquaintances have a hard time understanding my new heteronormative existence. When they question my commitment to continuing the fight for gay rights, I wonder if what they’re really trying to ask me is, “So… were you straight all along?” Gay friends might wonder if I’ll still stand by them at the next Pride Parade, while people of my parents’ generation might breathe a sigh of relief that I didn’t end up with a woman. And a part of me can’t help but feel a little pang of guilt, as if I am giving up my LGBTQ Card by putting a man’s ring on my finger.
But the truth is, I am no more or less bisexual today than I was a year ago or even fourteen years ago when I came out. I knew who I was at seventeen, and I made that clear. The thing I didn’t know back then—whether I would find my ultimate happiness with a man or a woman—is the only factor that has truly changed.
the “b” in LGBTQ
The hardest thing to accept, and the hardest thing to help my partner understand, is that my attraction to women will never go away. Just as my past relationships are a part of me, my sexual orientation is, too. When I go to sleep next to him and have dreams of our happy life together, it doesn’t change the fact that we just watched an episode of Westworld and I found Thandie Newton’s badass character very sexually appealing. Though, of course, I found James Marsden pretty appealing too.
Being the “B” in LGBTQ can often be very complicated. Not only do bisexuals like me deal with stereotypes every day while we’re single and happily dating, but we face an almost confusing loss of identity whenever we finally choose to “settle down” with one particular person—all because of their sex or gender.
But the truth is that the only thing that marrying a man will truly change in my life is that I will now need to be even louder about who I am, louder about my bisexuality and how it has affected my life in positive and negative ways. With all that is going on politically in today’s world, I will continue to speak up for LGBT rights and I will continue to be true to who I am—and especially make it clear to the outside world that man + woman ≠ heterosexual pairing.
It’s just what happens sometimes when you open yourself up to love from either sex.