Saturday, 14 September 2013

Tell me it gets better

I watch a lot of Youtube, it's part of my daily life. Today, one of my regular shows (shep689) recommended a coming out video, which I dutifully clicked to and watched.

It has invoked such a depressing reaction that I need to reach out for some support, guys. It was a young, Australian gay man telling his story. After going through the part about coming out to friends, mother, college, father, the gay man in the video starts using the phrase 'it gets better', and for the first time of hearing that (having heard it many times before, of course) I realised that it actually applied to me.

I don't feel like I'm in a place with my sexuality to testify to the fact; one thing stands in my way - my parents. For over half my life, the only people who understood me were my parents. Apart from two exceptions, it took me until 16years old to find other people who completely got me, totally took me for who I was and loved me for it.

Now I'm here; I know who I am and I love myself. It all makes sense to me and I know my place in this world as a queer, bisexual, cisgendered woman, with mostly-feminine-but tendency-towards-some-masculine self-expression. I have surrounded myself with people who I care for deeply who also know me and love me on this level.

But now, my parents don't understand. And they seem to think that because their world is cisgendered heterosexual, they have no need to see me as anything but a blip in that world. And I've never been a blip in their world before! They've always shifted their world around me to include exactly who I am as a totally integrated part of that world (it's the same with my brother, I'm not being egotistical, I'm pointing out this is their way of parenting, and I've always thought them great parents) but I don't feel integrated any more.

It hurts. It's upsetting. It doesn't feel right. As much as I don't think they mean it to be, it is a rejection. I suppose it is made worse that I'm not just living a bisexual life, I am engaging with my sexuality beyond romance (ie this blog, being head of the LGBT society, going to pride, etc). But that's not the part that hurts. I would get them leaving me to go about all that without them engaging with it, the same as they leave my brother to his fitness regime, diet and MMA (mixed martial arts - also known as ultimate fighting) training.

It's the fact that I get the impression they think it shouldn't change how I live my life at all, that they see it as a weird thing, as if it isn't normal for who I am. That's it - I would understand bisexuality being weird to them because they don't know it, but they treat it as if it should be weird to me as well, making it a blip. Every other thing that I do, that I am, they accept as normal, whether it's unpopular, not average, unmainstream - to them, I am perfectly normal watching Disney films, going into a career in theatre, being close friends with a church community that it on average 40 years older than me, because that's who I am; but my sexuality being not-majority - that is apparently a strange thing for me to be doing, as it they expect me to stop at some point.

Thinking about it, I think they would react different to me being a lesbian. Lesbian is more normal to them, it's unusual by dint of being minority, but I think they would embrace me being lesbian. Bisexual is being weird for the sake of being weird. That's the impression I get. I've gone past the line of things I do that are weird that they can accept as just being me, and now it's-

I don't know. I don't want to think that they think that ultimately I'm experimenting, rebelling, trying too hard, essentially identifying as bisexual simply to be different rather than it being fact. But they behaviour and their attitude seriously worries me to the point of suspecting that they might.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable in feeling rejected and betrayed. My relationship with them has been, on their side, a constant love of who I am and proactive welcoming of whatever unlike-the-majority characteristic I have shared with them. And the feeling that they just tolerate my bisexuality, that they don't understand how fundamental it is to who I am, that they don't feel like they need to understand more - you can't treat your child's sexual/romantic orientation the same as their interest in doing a sport.

And talking of my brother's MMA, it's a good way to show how my parents treat me bisexuality, because it's pretty much the same, which, now I realise it, appalls me. To my parents, my brother wanting to be a professional MMA fighter is something he does with like minded people, that makes him happy, and they accept that he sees it as something that fits him to do. They will support him in what he chooses to do now, without knowing more than a rudimentary amount about what he does.

Now, you might ask, Esme, why do you want your parents to know more than a rudimentary amount about your bisexuality? That implies you expect them to want to know all about your romantic life. But that's not what I mean. They treat my bisexuality as if they don't and can't know more than a rudimentary amount about what it is in life - they don't understand that it is in fact the same concept as my brother's heterosexuality, in terms of how parents understand their children's sexuality ie. to them, they assume a deep understanding of the social structures and norms that make up my brother's sexuality, and they assume only a rudimentary understanding of those things that make up mine, when it fact, because the only difference with mine is a wider gender pool of possible partners, they can understand it as the same as before they knew about they extra possibilities of partners.

But they don't see it as deep, valuable, and ingrained like my brother's heterosexuality; it's almost like they think I'm pretending, just to be edgy.

Urgh, you see why this video made me depressed? I still struggle with my parents - they don't take me sexuality seriously. And it doesn't feel like it's getting better. It upsets me that they also don't understand why I'm upset by their attitude - they think they're being accepting and loving, but they're doing it a distance, treating it like a fucking phase, a trend that will pass, and therefore does not need to be considered something to be integrated, it is a blip, inconsequential. But it's the characteristic that defines how I go about finding that one someone to combine with to make one life together til death - not inconsequential!

Communication. Tell them how I feel. Yes, yes. But these are my parents - I'm not the responsible one in the relationship, I'm the child, and the parent-child relationship is heavily biased towards the parents' responsibility in relationship maintenance. Yet I also keep stum to maintain their happiness, because they would feel guilty that they're failing on the "how to deal with your child coming out as bi" score. Endless circles.

Do the circles have an end? Will it get better?

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