Friday, 2 August 2013

Talking about being bisexual with my parents - advice please!

I just had a majorly heated discussion in my kitchen with my parents and younger brother about my bisexuality.

This is major in itself, because they don't have conversations about sex and gender - I even started telling them about the spectrums of sex/gender/sexuality/gender expression! Think that blew their minds a little.

Anyway, my dad and I were the ones really going head to head. I was expressing my disappointment in him that he felt we needed to keep my bisexuality from his siblings and their kids - my aunts and uncles. He said he'd tell them when I had a girlfriend, because it was immaterial until then.

He said that in three years since my coming out, there has never been a moment in conversation with his siblings when it seemed the right moment to just mention it casually. I don't believe him, but he's sticking with it.

My brother then asked why I never came out to him. It was then that I really realised that, yes, what they were saying was true, it does feel like you're making a big deal out of it to tell people directly - but that's why coming out to your parents is a big deal, and that's why I was relying on them to pass it on in a less direct manner than a specifically convened time, like my coming out, to relevant family members, who they talk to relatively frequently.

I told my brother, 'I suppose I expected them to tell you'. I eventually had the courage about a year after coming out to them to specifically bring it up with him by saying "you know I'm bisexual right?" and I was shocked to find out that he knew from reading it on my Twitter profile!

Who is right? My father thinks it's none of their business, and even when I get a girlfriend, there's no need to specify, because one's sexuality is a private thing. If you do, you're ramming it down their throats and making a big deal.

I think sure, some people don't want to be particularly open about being a minority and just get on with their lives, and fair play to them, I've got no problem with them doing that. But I don't feel like that about my life; I don't want people to think I'm straight when there's opportunity to correct their assumption, because it's untrue, the same way I don't want them to think I'm anything else that I'm not.

And in my wider life, I want to enhance bi-visibility, and the way to do it in my intimate network of the family is be out and proud, which I don't think is shoving it down their throats. I don't think anyone is going to think my dad is making a big deal if, say, in conversation with his brother about my cousin's upcoming wedding, talk of my future wedding comes up, and he mentions that it might not be a man, and when his brother asks for clarification, dad tells him I'm bi.

And I'm not saying make my grandparents' lives difficult by telling them, because there isn't much point. It'll get sticky when I do bring a girl home, and I'll probably have to fight them about telling the grandparents then, but that's not the issue. Am I right to be disappointed that my dad has kept it from my family?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments.


  1. "even when I get a girlfriend, there's no need to specify, because one's sexuality is a private thing"

    Oh for pity's sake. We're all set to have the first legal same-sex marriages in Wales & England. Are your extended family going to be invited to a wedding where the gender of your spouse is revealed with a big shout of "SURPRISE! She's marrying a GURL!"?

    Some people will just learn anyway from internet profiles. If you're on Facebook and have clicked Like on BCN, BiCon and B Is Not For Invisi-Bi-Lity, sooner or later family members on facebook will notice, and it'll happen at random and with no idea which of them have clocked you. Dearly though he might want to block the information by making it some kind of family secret, the world just doesn't work that way any more.

    I get it being awkward for him. "Our EsmeT is bisexual you know" is a bit out of the usual circle of conversation perhaps, but doing BiStuff like going to BiCon or speaking at a Bi Visibility Day event or suchlike can give that a bit of a blunted edge.

    The same goes for you in coming out to people too, as I've probably burbled before. I am a bit fond of talking about bi spaces as ways of coming out in a less confrontational way.

    So yeah. Grrr. But it's how the world works in his head, you're probably stuck with it: it's a question of how far you'll go in deliberately or inadvertently circumventing him and so letting the wider family know by other means...

  2. Being bi isn't just your “sexuality”. OK, let's remove sex completely — being bi isn't just about romance either. It's about your *identity*.

    It's got nothing to do with your (or other people's) underpants-regions, or any embarrassingly sweet love letters you may or may not have sent or received. This is who you are.

    It's just as much use trying to pretend you're not vegetarian or Christian or a Trekkie or teetotal or a [your-favourite-football-club-here] supporter.

    (Also, what Jen says. Jen is clever. Listen to Jen.)