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The first person I came out to as bisexual, my best friend at the time, said something along the lines of “ew gross” and never spoke to me again. It absolutely crushed 18 year old me who had just discovered her bisexuality. My best friend’s response sent me back into closet crying. At the time I didn’t know any other bisexuals and my area didn’t have any sort of bisexual social or support group. I felt disgusting, dirty, wrong, and alone and no one supporting me or telling me otherwise.
My other friends were wonderfully receptive to my coming out once I built up the courage to come out to them more than a year later, but my ultra conservative family was not. I grew up being constantly barraged with hate towards everything gay and bisexual. I got the message that gays and bisexuals were sick, broken, wrong, and even deserved to die. I came out once I was safely across the country from them in the hopes that learning their daughter was one of those bisexuals would change their viewpoint. It didn’t.
My family took my coming out as bisexual as a confession that I was sick and a sex addict. I didn’t have the resources or ability to explain through my shock and pain that bisexuality has nothing to do with promiscuity.
I came out four years ago and nothing has gotten better with my family since. I rarely see or speak to my family because it feels like they only love and accept a part of me while hating and condemning another. I have worked hard to accept who I am and refuse to go backwards. Right now, that means limited contact with my family. I hope someday that changes, but I am no longer waiting for their acceptance. What they think of me no longer has anything to do with the way I see myself.
A lot of times intolerance comes from a place of ignorance and education can help people become more tolerant and empathetic to other’s struggles. Most people don’t understand bisexuality and see bisexuality as all the negative misconceptions surrounding it rather than what it is- a valid and real sexual orientation.
Providing resources such as this, this, and this can help people learn what bisexuality truly is, learn to be more understanding, and support the person coming out as bisexual. Sometimes it is hard to get people to read the resources, but all you can do is provide these resources. Make sure the person you are coming out to knows it would mean a lot to you for them to look these resources over.
2.Give Them Time
Many people don’t respond well when people first come out as bisexual. Their knee- jerk reactions can range from strange to cruel. Thankfully, many of these people come around. They calm down enough to ask questions and try to learn and listen. Often, in the end, their love for the person coming out as bisexual matters more than their bigotry.
Taking a step back from someone who doesn’t respond well to your coming out as bisexual is important for both of you. For them, it is important to process the information, learn about bisexuality, and not say something they will regret. For you, it is important to remove yourself from a possibly hurtful situation and get support from people who do support your sexual orientation in the meantime.
Not everyone comes around. I don’t want to provide false hope here. However, enough people do that it is worth giving someone a few weeks, sometimes months before accepting that they won’t be in your corner. I have even heard of people, usually parents, coming around after years and years of being bigoted and unsupportive. It is at least fun to imagine as a possibility.
3.Get Support Elsewhere
Having someone respond poorly to your coming out can be a really hard thing to process. For some of us, like it did for me, it throws us back into the closet to hide from further rejection. It is important to seek support from someone else in these situations, whether it is family, friends, or a mental health professional who understands and supports bisexuals. Seeking help from a mental professional is especially important if the person you are coming out to reacts in an abusive way.
4.Reach Out to the Bisexual Community
I have only met a lucky few bisexuals that have had amazing, wonderful responses from every single person they have come out to. Most people in the bisexual community have experienced the harsh rejection of our coming out going badly- to differing degrees. Therefore, most people in the bisexual community will understand what you are going through.
Being a part of the bisexual community after a bad coming out helps to make you feel like you aren’t going through a hard time alone. Being a part of the community also helps you remember that your sexual orientation is valid and that being bisexual does not mean there is anything wrong with you.
At a certain point of a loved one not accepting your sexual orientation, you have to move on. Accept that the person you came out to isn’t going to be positive or supportive of your sexual orientation anytime soon. You don’t have to give up hope that they someday will change or cut them out of your life completely, but you can’t wait around for them to be supportive forever.
Only you can decide what this means to you- whether you need to remove them from your life completely for your mental health or whether you can stand having someone in your life that doesn’t accept a part of you. Either way, at a certain point you can no longer wait for them to come around or you will be hurt over and over again. You can’t rely on their opinion of you for any of your self- worth.