Coming Out as Bi: How do I explain bisexuality to vehemently anti-gay parents? 

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Image Description: a bisexual pride flag: pink top stripe, purple middle stripe, and blue bottom stripe. With pink text overlaid that reads “keep calm I’m bisexual.”

I’m having dinner with my dad tonight, and I’m a bit anxious. We don’t really get along; he wasn’t a very good father. I don’t particularly want to elaborate, but there was some definite abuse in my house growing up. I know that’s why I can never feel close to my dad. I even tried confronting him about it, but… he was abusive then too.

I don’t want to come off as bitter. My dad isn’t all bad; I get my sense of humor and my intelligence from him. But it’s difficult to get close to someone who has repeatedly hurt you so deeply – especially when that person is supposed to protect and care for you. However, there’s another reason I can never have a close relationship with my dad: He doesn’t know I’m bi… But that’s about to change.

Pretty much everyone in my life (a least everyone important) already knows, except for my parents. I never really came out, I just never bothered hiding it once I got to college. (I didn’t really hide it as a kid either because I didn’t figure out I was bi until college. Hell, I didn’t even know the term “bisexual” before college.) Unfortunately, my parents have always been openly and aggressively homophobic. They believe gays and lesbians are godless perverts who are going straight to hell. They opposed same-sex marriage and advocate for legalized discrimination of gay and lesbian people. They’re those people who think God sends natural disasters to punish America for allowing gay people to simply exist. So, you can imagine why, as a queer bisexual, I might feel just a tad bit alienated by my parents. It’s impossible to feel loved by, or build any semblance of a meaningful relationship with, parents like mine.

But I think it’s time to buck up and come out to the parents. I’ve moved in with my girlfriend, and we keep talking about the future. We go on vacation together. We’re planning on flying back to the Midwest to spend the holidays with her family. And anyone who knows me understands how huge this is for me. I’m a major commitment-phobe, which is one reason why I’ve never felt the need to come out to my parents. I don’t bring dates home for dinner, and I don’t want to spend holidays with whoever I’m seeing at the moment… Well, I never used to. If I’m serious about my girlfriend, if we’re living together, traveling together, and spending all our holidays together, my parents are going to find out sooner or later. And I figure they should probably find out from me because that way I’ll get to decide how it happens.

My problem, however, is how the hell do I explain bisexuality to people who can’t even grasp that it’s perfectly normal and lovely for someone to be gay? (And I don’t think I can begin to explain that I’m gender-queer.) I can’t just say that I have a girlfriend because they’ll assume I’m lesbian. If I tell them I’m bisexual and am currently dating a girl they’ll think I’m “going through a phase” (probably just to spite them). If I correct them and say, “no, I really love this girl, this is serious,” they’ll go back to assuming I’m lesbian. My friends are trying to be optimistic and supportive, but I know there’s no chance of my parents understanding bisexuality, let along accepting it. And I just don’t see a way to convey how committed my girlfriend and I are to each other while still respecting myself and honoring my bisexuality.

My plan of attack is to divide and conquer, come out to my dad first, and then later, my mom. But I have absolutely no idea how to do this. I guess I’m just going to have to suck it up and get through dinner tonight, and then probably consume a lot of alcohol.

 

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