...except, you know, when it does:
#lgbtmedia14 you let your "heros" *cough* @fakedansavage *cough* tell kids @ItGetsBetter unless ur #bisexual - then ur a faker
— Bisexual Bloggers (@BisexualBlogger) March 1, 2014
I have never in my 43 years written to anyone I haven't met before, but I also have never felt so grateful to someone I have not met before. The English language does not have the adequate words to express my gratitude. I am the straight mother of a gay son and a bi daughter in their teens. They are the most incredible people and will be able to live the kind of life that they themselves choose because of all of the courageous men and women of the LGBT movement who have gone before them. My only sadness is that both of my children went through a difficult adolescence where they felt terrible about themselves as they began to perceive their differences. We have to do a better job with our children to let them know that, no matter what, they are perfect exactly as they are.
We live in a wonderfully tolerant community on the north side of Chicago, and I am so proud of our local high school where the kids are so open my son told me that "he's not even that special." He is almost seventeen and is now as happy as can be, open to family, friends, and teachers. My bi daughter found the It Gets Better project before I knew about it, and it has helped her immeasurably. Your efforts are appreciated more than I could ever express. Thank you again for fighting for my children's right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, and my right to grandchildren!—Katy K.
Thanks for the nice note, Katy K, and I'm so glad the project helped your daughter—which was my intent—but having an awesome, supportive, affirming mom is the best help any queer kid could have. Your gay son and bi daughter lucked the fuck out in the mom department. You can tell 'em I said so. And I'm so glad your daughter is out about being bi. That's great. Lots of bisexual people aren't out to the most important people in their lives and her being out to you really says something—something positive—about your relationship.
You may know, Katie, that I've urged bisexuals to come out to their friends and families. You may not know that some regard this as highly problematic...
It is NOT always safe/better for bi* folks to come out, just as it is not always safe for ANYONE to come out.Allies know that.@fakedansavage
— Heron (@herong) March 3, 2014
And it does seem to me—call me crazy—that nothing would more effectively combat bisexual invisibility and ignorance about bisexuality than bisexuals coming out to "most or all of the important people in their lives," something only 28% of bisexuals have done. (71% percent of lesbians and 77% of gay men are out to "most or all; only 12% of bisexual men are out to "most or all.") Again, call me crazy. (Or you could call me biphobic, I suppose, but wouldn't a biphobe want bisexuals to remain closeted? Maybe I'll be able to figure that one out after my Social Justice Twitter Warrior Decoder Ring comes in the mail.)
But I am careful to encourage closeted queer individuals to assess their particular circumstances before coming out. Because it's not always safe. With forty percent of homeless youth being LGBT kids who were kicked out after coming out—or kicked out after being outed—coming out is not always the immediate right choice. LGBT adults and organizations that mindlessly push coming out on all LGBT people everywhere regardless of their individual circumstances are being reckless and irresponsible. And I've said so repeatedly in my column, on my podcast, and in my books. Too often coming out is made to look like the solution to a queer person's problems when in reality it can be the beginning of a whole new set of problems—and some of those problems can be pretty dire—and we need to be straight with closeted queer folks about that fact.
And on this point, and this point alone, I am completely straight.
That's why I urge people to come out carefully and to have a backup plan. That has long been my stock advice to anyone who calls my show with a question about coming out. Minors in particular should think long and hard about how their parents might react. If there's a chance mom and dad are going to toss you out on the street, cut you off financially, or have you "kidnapped for Christ," it might better to wait until you're 18. And I've been slammed in the past for being too soft on coming out (some think I should order all queer people come out now) and I've been slammed for being too hard on coming out (some, like Heron here, think I shouldn't urge anyone to come out ever). Maybe with another decade or two in the advice biz I'll finally get this coming out stuff just right.
Meanwhile letters like this come in daily...
Hi Dan, I'm a 21-year-old bi girl from Canada. I've known I like girls as well as boys for a long time. I went through the customary adolescent angst over it but in past several years I've learned to accept it and even love it. I've been out to my good friends for a long time and to my siblings a bit more recently. Until just a few weeks ago however I had never said anything to my parents. I kept telling myself that I'd say something if it ever came up, if I found myself a girlfriend or something. Various things conspired to make me realize that I had started actively lying to them using omission variety lies. But it was reading and listening to various questions and answers on bisexuality on your podcast that convinced me to come out fully. I was amazed at how good it felt! I'd never really considered myself in the closet even and here I was coming out of it!
So, I've had a few relationships with guys in the past most of them with dudes in my group of friends and all of which ended in varying degrees of badness. Now, I've been feeling more attracted to ladies recently and with the feeling of freedom being out of the closet has brought me I'd like to pursue it. I don't really want to ask how to pick up chicks exactly, it's just that I'm bad at meeting new people and dating friends has ended poorly for me multiple times. I have various lesbian and bi friends and keep steering in their direction subconsciously. Not really sure what my question is but any advice would be awesome. Also thanks for the help on the coming out of the closet issue!
Completely Out Girl
It's nice to know that coming out as bi—while not safe for EVERYONE everywhere—is sometimes safe for SOMEONE somewhere. I would go so far as to say that coming out is often safer than people realize. And I'll go even farther and say this: sometimes people overestimate the risks of coming out because they're looking for an excuse to stay closeted themselves and/or they're looking to excuse others for staying closeted. We don't want to downplay the risks, of course, but we shouldn't overstate them either. The former encourages recklessness, the latter enables cowardice.
But coming all the way out worked for COG here and it could work for other closeted or semi-closeted gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans folks too—individual circumstances and results do vary, of course, so please consult your local listings, geographic coordinates, economic situation, faith community, family history, best judgement, etc., before making a decision about when to come out.
Okay! Some angry bisexual readers will wanna jump into the comment thread and unpack the rank, subconscious biphobia that permeates today's SLLOTD—they've got their decoder rings—but IMHO giving some advice to COG would be a much better use of your time, angry bisexuals. COG is a bisexual sister who wants some advice about meeting women now that she's all the way out. The best I can come up with is "leave the house, hit on women; get online, hit on women," but I'm sure my bi readers—not all of whom are angry (or closeted)—will have much better advice for COG than I do.
Let her have it, gang.