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My sister, Katrina, knew very early that she liked girls. However, when she was in the first grade she had a crush on "the popular guy" (however popular you can be when you're six), and my mother has never let that go. Katrina was in her early teens when she got with her girlfriend, and she came out to my dad.
"You're just really good friends," he told her. "There has to be some element of lust if you're together like that."
So she hid the next two relationships she had with other women. They just had "sleepovers" instead of "dates." Throughout most of her adult life, both my parents had no desire to support their daughter in her journey to be comfortable with her sexuality, and in fact probably are the cause of a lot of her struggles. My mother even divulged to me that she was "suffering from depression" in essence because Katrina liked girls.
Now that she's had a couple of boyfriends, it's no longer a point of concern. After all, she's dating someone with the correct genitalia.
While this scenario is not unheard of, when Katrina first came out to me I was shocked at how my parents reacted. Both of them are musicians and teachers, working closely with people of all colors, beliefs, sexualities, and cultures. Many of their good friends (whom my sister and I grew up with) were gay and had loving partners. Sexuality was never an issue, and we had both grown up knowing that it was just a fact that some people liked girls, some liked boys, and some liked both. Thus, when Katrina received such a negative reaction, we were flabbergasted.
This is a big part of why I have never come out to my parents. I am bisexual. I have slept with women and liked it, had crushes on women, and even contemplated dating a few. I have never let my parents or anyone else have a say in whom I choose to have relationships. It's no one else's business, and if my happiness makes you like me less well then you're not really concerned about ME as a person, are you?
There are other reasons I don't come out. My sexual preferences or orientation isn't a huge part of who I am. I am a woman, I feel and act like a woman, and I happen to have dated men my whole life. For a while, I thought I had found the person I would marry, and after that relationship ended I was fine if I ended up dying old and alone surrounded by my cats. It is not overtly obvious that I am not a heterosexual female, and so I have not had to "fight on my own behalf" as someone once put. I have always stood up for the LGBTQ community because it shouldn't matter whom we love, but simultaneously I have never felt I belonged there either.
The B in LGBTQ is for bisexuality, but there are those within the community who do not see bisexuality as a "real thing." I have been told to "choose already," or that I've just been experimenting with girls and obviously I'm hetero because I've only dated men. Sorry to disappoint, but I have a preference of gender just like you do. I can be bisexual and hetero-romantic. I can be bisexual and homo-romantic. I can be bisexual and bi-romantic. I can even be bisexual and aromantic. Whom I choose to have a relationship with has nothing to do with my sexuality.
And still, I am told I am a fraud.
Thus, early in my adult life, I decided to live by one simple rule: don't lie, but don't divulge. I am happy to be perceived as whatever I am perceived as; often it tells more about the other person than myself. Recently I was asked why I was dating my boyfriend because that person thought I was a lesbian. Others have been shocked that I had even kissed a girl because they totally thought I was straight. Others still have shrugged because they sort of figured I was bisexual. But I have never come right out and declared a label. If someone ever has the courage to ask me, I never lie. But that requires courage to ask me something deeply personal and invasive.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating whom you love and how you love. I think we should be free do whatever with whomever consensually. I, however, don't feel the need to broadcast myself. My sexuality is quiet, but it is not invisible and it is not locked up behind a steel door. I am who I am, and you are who you are. If we are both happy, I don't care about your label. I hope, in the end, you won't care about mine.