Savage Love Letter of the Day: She Knows She's Bi Now—But Does Anyone Else Need To Know?

Comments

1
Agree. Don't let people keep thinking you are something you are not. You, and the people you encounter will benefit incredibly from your being exactly, and truly who you are at all times. I'm really glad you're all happy. Many times these letters are about how unhappy everyone is.
2
Definitely keep on eating pussy. But if you come out as bi, it can affect your relationship with your gf.
3
when I came out, it was a non issue. My wife prefers not to.
4
I'm all for her coming out, but if anyone asks "when did you first know for sure?" she's going to have to either lie, or come out as non-monogamous as well.
5
I'd like to point out that saying "I'm bisexual" does NOT mean you then have to disclose intimate details about your marriage, your FWBs, or your sex life at all. If someone says "I'm straight" they don't expect to be grilled about how that plays out in their private lives, and the same is true of you're bisexual, lesbian, gay or any other erotic/associative type.

An old friend taught me my favorite way to deflect unwanted quizzing - he'd say "Now, now - that would be telling!" and move on to something else.
6
Totally agree.
It's pretty hard to imagine someone saying, "Just us straight gals!" with a, er, straight face, though.
7
@5: yeah.

WHO you are is, ideally, part of your public persona for all the reasons Dan listed.

What you are doing in bed, however, is not part of normal, polite conversation. And if someone starts an interrogation: "When did you know, who did you first sleep with?" respond by (1) pointing out that they wouldn't ask that same question of someone progressing to be straight and therefore (2) to STFU.

OTOH, if someone is genuinely wondering about your journey, you could leave out the names and dates and explain that you mostly knew long before you acted on it. And trying the other gender (you needn't specify) left you sure.
8
That THEY should STFU if they push for sordid details. Not that you need to.
9
Dan, Dan. I go out with my female friends routinely. No one's ever said something like ""It's so much fun to get together—just us straight gals!" In fact, if someone uses the word "gals," I'm inclined to assume they're a square dance caller.
10
@9, I'd imagine this is probably at least somewhat a problem for bi guys. Guys (white, american, etc) tend to bond by being assholes to each other, often over implied homosexuality and the related, even-more implied humiliation. I've noticed at least where I live that this is getting better, but it's still common.
11
Oh, dear, social monogamy again. Social nonmonogamy would seem far less pernicious.
12
Wow. This is so close to being my life I thought I sleepwrote it. (Except for the part about being in a FWB relationship with a hot, married lady. You lucky dog, you.) I have slowly come out to friends and coworkers, and even been open about the circumstances of my semi-open marriage. It was far easier and more comfortable than I thought it would be, and it is SO relieving not having to worry about my coworkers catching me out on a date with a woman and freaking out about me cheating on my husband. I kinda just rolled it out as sorta, "Oh, you didn't know I was bi? Well I am." As if it was just a part of my life that never came up before this moment. Even the uptight people I thought would give me shit about it have been nothing but supportive and unconcerned. This could be you, LW. I wish you all the same good luck I've had as you try and let people know about the real you. And don't worry about the dumb people who might react badly. They're not worth your time.
13
Man, I wish my GF would have a FWB relationship with a hot lady.
14
Two remarks:

(1) I found the remark that she hadn't at first "had the opportunity to really put theory into practice" very odd. I'm a hetero dude and I've never had any homosexual experiences, but I have the utmost confidence in saying that even if I tried it I still wouldn't enjoy it. Don't most people know their own sexuality long before they've had any "practice" (i.e., romantic/sexual experiences)?

(2) As a hetero dude married to a bi gal, I think my wife chose the perfect time and manner to come out as bi. Unless you have the perfect conversational opportunity, where it's a natural and relevant response to something somebody else said, you can wait until National Coming Out Day and make an announcement on Facebook at that time. Because if there's one appropriate forum for spontaneously talking about oneself, it's FB.
15
As a bi woman in my late 40's, predominantly in heteronormative relationships, I tend to say "I date both men and women" when it comes up, I also am a yearly FB poster on both coming out day and bisexual awareness day.
I don't think anyone's ever asked me when it started (in my 20's) but it's true it gets marginalized by straight and gay people usually until I say I've had LTR's with both men and women. For whatever reason, that seems to be the validation I'm not just "curious"
16
I am bi but I am not really out. Some of my family knows. My husband knows. I feel ambiguous about it. I haven't had a girl friend in twelve years. I worry about my kids.
17
@14, I think the idea of "putting theory into practice" is really common among bi women. I can't think of a time when I've casually come out as bi that someone hasn't asked prying questions about how can I really know if I haven't tried it. A lot of people think that you just CAN'T be bi, you have to be either gay or straight. The Kinsey scale really really ought to be taught in sex ed (along with birth control, consent, gender identity, pleasure...)
18
I'm still waiting for a cute identifier that doesn't contain the word 'sexual.' Gay = homosexual, can we bisexuals have something similar... Merry? Frolicsome? Zippy? Mirthful?!
19
Any etiquette for what to do if (or how to avoid) you come out as bi to someone and they either
1) think you're hitting on them when you really aren't and don't want to
2) forget and you have to come out again later? (My own husband forgot.)
Because as someone else who could have written this letter minus the FWB (and minus being confused, I've known I'm bi since before puberty), that's been a lot of my experience. That or if I say a real person is hot then disapproving shock, am I cheating??? (I'm not.) I feel like I must be coming out wrong, or something. It's hard to find the perfect conversational opportunity where one of these doesn't happen because it's so natural.
21
@17 I actually haven't gotten the "how do you know if you didn't try". (I guess that comes of mostly coming out to friends, many of who are also bi or from interest groups where LGBTQ is fairly common.) But I answered a similar question with I've had crushes on guys and girls about equally. That answer seemed to be accepted fine, but did not stop the next question of "so how much experience have you had with the same sex".
22
@20 I actually know one person like that, a lady who is bi but only ever dated women, and is common law married to another bi woman at this point. Didn't write to Savage Love though!

I know some other people who are bi in ss relationships but they've also dated os before, so that doesn't count to you, right?
23
More married people should definitely come out as bisexual.
24
I dunno. As a bi woman whose been in a relationship with another woman for almost 30 years, I agree with Dan.

BUT I am uncomfortable telling anyone they need to come out especially for political reasons. It's a personal and to some degree private thing that can't be forced or rushed. It's a hard enough to come out in the best of circumstances and even harder when you're older and the people in your life already have a fixed definition of who you are.
25
@5 Hardly the same thing. Talk of apples and oranges! Who announces at dinner " last night when me and my husband /bf were having straight sex" bit of a non story. Now said same dinner you casually drop" So me and Jen the other night....." may get a bit of a different reaction. Unless of course there was pegging with hubby and that could take a whole other turn.
26
"Us straight galls" Who actually says.
27
wine-o @2: In what way will it affect their relationship? Do you mean that GF won't be able to remain closeted either? Bi women have straight female friends. Coming out won't out the GF. PDAs might.

Schmacky @4: No she won't. I am similar to LW in that I felt attraction for girls and boys from a very young age, but I falsely convinced myself that I wouldn't "know for sure" until I actually had sex with a woman, which didn't happen for me until I was 26. In retrospect, I knew for sure from the first crush I had on a girl. LW can honestly say she knew for sure in high school.

Long-time @14: See above. Particularly in a society where bisexuality is both frowned upon and eroticised, at least when you're female, that part of you that's in denial suggests that maybe you just want to seem cool or edgy, maybe eating pussy is actually disgusting, and won't you feel stupid if you take the bold step of coming out and then discover pussy is disgusting.
These are not thoughts that heterosexuals ever really have to deal with, since no one is going to condemn your sexuality.

And what Lucy and Beansprout said.

Nadge @18: Bi? Queer? Twice as happy? :)

Sargon @20: I also know bisexuals in same-sex relationships, marriages even. (I argue that even when monogamous, they aren't "gay" relationships because one of the people is not "gay." They are "same-sex relationships.")

Tab @25: Sadly, one element of biphobia is that people interpret your talking about your orientation as talking about your sex life. Gay or lesbian is who you are, but bisexual is who you do. Agree with Dan that this attitude needs to change, and fewer people being ashamed of it is a good start.
28
But yeah, no one doubts that a straight person can "know for sure" before losing their virginity. LW can make this point if anyone is rude enough to press for details of her sex life.
29
I'm a little perplexed about this need to "come out" and make some kind of splashy announcement to the world about your sexual orientation. As others have said, I'm not placing tacky posts on Facebook or signs in my front yard, "Hey! Fucked a girl last night! I'm straight as an arrow!" I do get the argument that being openly gay or bi or whatever contributes to people starting to view it as normal, so if that's your agenda, go for it. Other than that, just start posting photos and showing up at events with your girlfriend/boyfriend/whateverfriend and people will get the idea...ohhh, TLTL apparently likes girls too (a photo with hubby included with girlfriend is a subtle clue to people that he's in on it, too.) If they are nosy/rude/friendly-curious enough to ask about it, just treat it like any other normal part of your life. Yeah, I like girls. I like raquetball too.
30
Did anyone else read Dan's screen-grab arguments and conclude: So, aside from the questionable health statistics, bi's don't really have any reason to come out?

• People now know bisexuality exists. Acknowledging we live in a bizarre age when proven facts are now only temporarily true (at last check, the Earth is flat, evolution is just an 'opinion', and ignorance is strength), the bisexual cat is out of the bag. Meow.

• Bisexuals are less concerned with bisexuality being "part of who they are" homosexuals.

• Bi's on the whole don't really feel discriminated against or threatened. Meanwhile, staying closeted has its perks.

So why should bi's really care who knows it? Personally, I still find discussing sex a no-go topic in the professional world and in polite conversation, and I don't hang out socially with bro-types who's interests are limited to hooting about awesome sports and infantile comments about boobies and poop. So there's really no reason for me to ever 'express' myself publicly about my own private desires. I suppose if I ever decided to have an actual active sex life, that might be another matter, but for me, it's not an issue.

Dan's answer sort of backfired for me. Unless there is a political agenda—and of course there is, but Dan tried to make this not about politics—why don't we just assume that people have all sorts of sexual attractions, which are private, and leave it at that?

The answer is that it is political. We're still living in caveman times. While there are islands intelligence throughout the world, there are many powerful and socially regressive backwaters like the United Red States, Russia, much of Africa and the Middle East. Actually, the majority of the world still follows archaic tribal traditions intolerant of social change. We progressives may be working toward an era when sexual tastes are nobody's business but our own, but we're not there yet. And politically speaking, there's a lot more backsliding that can occur, especially in the US. We've lately seen settled matters like abortion law and scientific theory re-opened, and bedrock principles like privacy, social security, and labor laws are being actively undermined. If you want to see how far we can fall if political wins are not constantly defended, just look at the past. So for the good of a progressive society, LGT's need to be out, and the B's need to join them.

So in the end, perhaps Dan's answer actually didn't backfire. Fancy that.
31
I'd be more interested in you coming out of the non-monogamy closet. That would help far more people. Does "socially monogamous" mean something other than "lying about having an open marriage." That confused me.
32
It's easier for a woman to be known as bisexual. No one's going to accuse her of being a self-deluding lesbian if she has a husband and presents as conventionally femme. She doesn't need to worry about it too much.
34
Very few straight people come out as straight.

Son-- except on a need to know basis -- why should anyone else want to announce sexual preference?

Politicians announce it, which I think is understandable so they are not trapped later by right-wing idiots.

But otherwise, except in terms of fishing for more sex, why announce anything?
35
Straight people come out as straight all the time, even though they’re already considered straight by default.
36
Thanks, Alison! Also, how strange to need a label for that.
37
On another note, although I don't think it's that big a deal for a woman to declare her bisexuality, as I said, I question the circumstances that would make 'coming out' seem natural or necessary here. People have already taken Dan to task for the unlikeliness of his hypothetical scenario - 'just us straight gals', etc., but this raises the larger question - when exactly would her "coming out" not seem forced or inappropriate?

Think about it: she's a straight-identified married woman, and her relationship with her FWB is, by her own description, comfortable and affectionate, but still essentially sexual and not romantic. So how is talking about it not simply discussing her sex life?

If she were bisexual to the degree that she could potentially fall in love with and marry a woman - if she were "bi-romantic", as it were, that might be one thing. But she's not. I think she's obligated to stand up for bisexual rights, and defend bisexuality if someone is slagging on it, but I honestly don't see the obligation to 'out' herself as bisexual if she doesn't want to. 'Bisexual erasure' or not, I don't think that anyone in her position should feel compelled to either stay in or leave the 'bisexual closet', just make the choice that feels best to them.
38
Dan's advice is totally wrong.

TLTL: Anyone who goes out of their way to mention the details of their sex life to others generally are also huge fucking assholes. Here's the things that you can mention: you have sex. I don't want to hear what positions, with whom, if you got off, any of that. That goes for any straight sex too. Jesus. Unless you are cool with hearing someone else tell you about how they masturbate and what their fantasies are, I'd keep it in the can unless it's explicitly asked of you, but don't go out of your way.

39
Alison.
And unless a straight person comes out straight ( for some good reason such as are you just going to bed with me,) why would anyone care?

Just going to ask asking someone about their sexual preference seems a bit inappropriate, why would they mention it? Obviously there's lots of exceptions but In most cases it's TMI.

We don't want a society in which people are expected to announce their sexual preference.
40
Straight is the default setting. You don't have to come out as straight because the culture essentially outs you as straight—you are presumed to be straight, treated as if you're straight, and if you are straight... it feels like you never came out or had to come out and like you never made "a big deal" about your sexual orientation.

"So, hey, why do the gays and lesbians and bis make such a big deal about theirs?" some straight people (the not-very-bright ones) wonder.

Queers have to come out—we have to out ourselves—because otherwise that default setting (which is always and everywhere straight) shoves into the closet. If everyone assumed you were gay unless you said you were straight... straight people would out themselves constantly.

Finally, it would be better, some argue, if no one made any assumptions about anyone else's sexual orientation. But the overwhelming majority is straight. So the assumption isn't an irrational one, it's correct almost all of the time, and consequently people will go on making it. So the onus is on us queers to be out. And the onus is on you straights not to be obtuse about why we have to say, "I'm gay/lesbian/bi."

Sheesh.
41
Sigh.

Top hit for “straight people don’t flaunt it.”
https://outinleftfieldblog.wordpress.com…
42
I read the Psychology Today interview with Christopher Ryan that Alison Cummins linked to @33 and can only sigh. Ryan doesn't appear to know the distinction between infer and imply, and sadly, apparently neither do the editors at the journal.
Ryan is consistently difficult to read. If the "monogamy-isn't-natural" movement has to have a spokesman, I wish it were someone else.
43
@9: I've come to the recent conclusion that "gal" is the perfect casual term for women, the twin of "guy". it's not diminutive (girl) or insulting (dame, broad), or sexist (lady). I find the gender-neutral use of "you guys" for women ridiculous.

but I call square dances on weekends so maybe that's just me.
44
@Max Solomon (whose most recent comment Slog has inexplicably labeled # 0, right after my comment @42), "gal" just seems hokey to me. I don't get offended, and I don't think it sexist, though it does have a tinge--a twang--of "little lady" drawled in a John Wayne-ish way about it to me. But then again, I have no problem with the gender neutrality of "you guys." All the women I know--straight, lesbian, and bi--would probably say "girls," instead of "gals," but I can't imagine any of us saying something about a "night out with just us straight girls." In that example, it's the straight that's unlikely to be uttered perhaps more even than the "gals."

45
And in the time it took me to write and post my comment #44, Max Solomon's had already been re-numbered to 43.

Given that this woman is married to a man and is socially monogamous, I think any proactive coming out as bi would be offering TMI about her sex life. But she can be reactive. If someone makes an anti-bi, or homophobic comment, it's appropriate for her to say that as a bisexual woman, she is offended. If someone declares bisexuality to be nonexistent, she can out herself. In neither of these cases is she required to announce how she "knows for sure" she is bi, if she is currently having sex with a woman, or give any more details of her sex life. If someone makes the claim that bisexuals can't be monogamous, she can out herself as bi and decide whether she also wants to out herself as being ethically non-monogamous.
46
RE coming out as bisexual vs biromantic:

Without following up on Dan’s sources for bisexuals and health, my assumption is that the biggest issue is bisexual (not biromantic) men sneaking around without informing themselves, feeling guilty and not using basic prudence. That’s why these days sexual health interventions will target MSMs (men who have sex with men) and not gay or bisexual men: they describe their target population in terms of behaviour, not identity. There are a bunch of men out there who identify as straight and who like to suck cock sometimes. Used to be called DL or “on the downlow.”

But yeah, it makes a difference to coming out. If it’s part of your core identity it feels natural. If it’s just a private kink it feels distinctly unnatural. (Similar to a distinction between being poly and swinging. If you’re poly you want all your partners together at the Thanksgiving table with your parents and kids and sibs because they are all family, all core. If you swing, then the exact nature of your get-togethers with that other couple is none of anyone’s business and absolutely not Thanksgiving dinner conversation.)

And the thing is, if you care about bisexual health, it’s the weird, unnatural-feeling disclosure of your sex life that’s most important. Guys need to stop sneaking around having unsafe sex with other men. To do that, they need to stop feeling guilty or freaky about it. For that to happen, it needs to be normalized. Hence the importance of coming out.

If you’re bisexual but not biromantic, use Facebook to make a short post on national coming-out day. Explain if you want; don’t if you don’t.
47
Sorry Dan, but no (from a long term admirer). Minority status is often correlated with a certain degree of disenfranchisement (the minority of the moneyed aside). So it seems to me that bisexuality invisibility/erasure is just a subset of the much larger issue of "minority invisibility/erasure." In shorter words - life just isn't fair, is it? Also, the claim that bisexuality "erasure" causes harm isn't presented with evidence of a causal link, so I'm not sure why the link would be assumed. In fact, the claim that, "Only 20% of bisexuals say being bisexual is extremely or very important to their overall identity," supports the hypothesis that the correlation between bisexuality and health is not significant. Also, your answer to TLTL's question: "Does it even matter at this point?" seems to be the equivalent of: "Yes, but more so to me than to you." I think better advice would have been something along the lines of, "Congratulations on what appears to be new-found awareness of what minority status feels like. The extent to which are comfortable discussing your sexual orientation will likely vary over time and from situation to situation. For starters, you might want to practice taking a stand and speaking your mind (politely) against ignorant, intolerant, hateful, prejudiced bullshit when you see, hear, or experience it.
48
@34 - Straight people "come out" as straight all the fucking time without even realizing it. Putting a picture of their spouse or significant other up at work, or casually mentioning what they did over the weekend while using their partner's gender. It's so routine and casual that you don't think of it as "coming out" because there's no production or formal announcement involved. But if a gay guy did the same thing to someone who didn't already know, you'd consider it to be coming out just as much as them sitting you down and saying, "I have something important to tell you."
49
Thank you Dan @40, for this wonderful column and for your follow-up to the more obtuse straight people in our midst.

Including Fetish @38, who illustrates so well why it's hard for many people to say "I'm bisexual." Just equating the two words "I'm bisexual" to an in-depth, detailed discussion of one's sexual proclivities is inaccurate and insulting. "I'm bisexual" tells you nothing about who I fuck, how I fuck them, how often I fuck them, or even whether I fuck them. (There are bisexuals who have been single for a long time.) It just tells you that, as Dan states @40, if you'd previously assumed that I was the default setting of "straight," you were incorrect. And if you were thinking of saying something homophobic, you'd better think again, because there's a queer in your midst. Surprise!

Also, just because LW's FWB is an FWB, it doesn't mean she is incapable of falling in love with any woman. She may be biromantic, but also monoromantic, and already in love with one person, her husband.
50
I'm curious: how does a bisexual person with no known previous same-sex relationships who is happily married and socially monogamous, and who wishes to stay perceived as being both socially and sexually monogamous for all kind of legitimate reasons, come out as bisexual in any way other than making a Facebook statement on National Coming Out day or in response when someone says something bi-negative or bi-existence-denying or homophobic without simultaneously outing themself as being non-monogamous?

I understand why it's important that bi people be visible, but our culture is very judgmental when it comes to non-monogamy, even if it is ethical non-monogamy (which many don't see as ethical, no matter what).
51
"Don't assume too much" is good takeaway in just about every discussion unless you want the answer you want/fear.
52
@50, continued. I mean, it's not as if TLTL is going to be having dinner with her extended family at Thanksgiving and say, "By the way, you all should know that I'm bisexual." Since the family isn't going to interact with TLTL's FWB in any way where their relationship should be acknowledged, it would be awkward and seem to come out of the blue and for no point.

It's also not like TLTL is going to come in to work on Monday morning and talk about her weekend with her FWB. Presumably, she spent the weekend with members of her family; if the FWB was also there, she was likely to have been with her husband and kids, too.
"What did you do this weekend, Sarah?"
"Well, Mike and I had a barbeque with my husband-approved female friend-with-benefits and her husband on Saturday, and on Sunday we saw that new action movie. What did you do, Mitch?"


How does TLTL work her bisexuality into conversation in the way that someone dating or married to someone of the same sex would do?
53
While I do support coming out in general I would urge new comingouters to hold off a bit in case they just came out to some, feel great about it, and have the urge to shout it to rest of the world. While liberating, and I can attest to it, it can also cause some unneeded complications. Savor the initial coming out, then asses the situation for some time before going fb and the like.

In other news.... Unrelated to Dan's urging I did come out to my supervisor last week. I think he was somewhat relieved when I told him I have no intentions of showing up to work in my female persona, yet still accepting nevertheless.
"I thought you're trying to tell me something for some time, I thought you're bi."
54
@CMD: Mazel Tov!
55
@49 but ain't a more detailed explanation what LW is looking for here? She's obviously not content to sit back and wait for someone to ask her the magic words (she's been doing that for 15+ years).
56
I'm also getting the feeling that people want TLTL to come out more for political reasons than anything else. And if TLTL feels like making a political stance with her coming out, being open about being nonmonogamous is probably a more effective use of the coming out moment. Assuming that she and her FWB occasionally date, it's also more efficient for her. She can then enjoy being excited about this hot new person she's into, instead of having to go through layers of reveals to the people she knows.

That said, while it might be handy for her personally, I don't see much broader social benefit to her coming out as bi. The violently biphobic aren't going to be safe to come out to in the first place, not to mention being unlikely to share TLTL's social circles. (In fact, I'd argue that the violently biphobic are all but nonexistent. There are folks who are violently unsafe for bis to be around, but those people tend to be violently homophobic. I don't think there's anyone out there who'd be unsafe for bis but who'd give gays a pass.) Instead, most of what bis face are common stereotypes; straight women think bi men are partially closeted gays or otherwise insufficiently manly, gay men think that bi men are just looking for a little extra on the DL, and both straight men and gay women think of bi women as primarily straight but who want a little inconsequential fun with another woman. Coming out as "bisexual, homoromantic" (or to put it in plain english, "I'll fuck you, but I could never seriously date you") is unlikely to change the gay half of the perceptions one whit, and coming out as "I never have, but I have the potential to" (read: "but I could if I wanted to") is also unlikely to shift perceptions.
57
Nocute @50: Just because TLTL is both bisexual and non-monogamous doesn't mean she is required to come out about both at the same time. Again, you're conflating who someone is with who someone does. She can just say, "I don't feel comfortable hiding part of who I am anymore. I've decided to be open about being bisexual, even though I am happily married to a man." The truth, without the TMI.

I do take your point that it's hard to work your orientation into conversation when you aren't in an open same-sex relationship. I had a similar problem during my last long-term monogamous relationship with a man. I was just presumed straight, and you're right, there aren't many opportunities to bring up a same-sex relationship that doesn't exist. Maybe she could wear a "bi pride" badge or have a little bi flag at her desk. She could also start going to pride marches, or talking openly about her crushes on female celebrities (though some straight women do that too).
58
(And yes, I'm aware that TLTL is neither of the two ineffective coming out strategies mentioned above. There's a good chance that she'll be seen as one or the other if she doesn't also open up about her new relationship, and people who do fall into one of the two above camps aren't much help when they do come out.)
59
Fetish @55: I don't understand your question. TLTL is asking how she can come out as bi WITHOUT going into the details of her current non-monogamous relationships.
60
Chi @56: "I'd argue that the violently biphobic are all but nonexistent." Ha, you haven't met many militant lesbians.
61
@57: BDF, when is TLTL supposed to say "I don't feel comfortable hiding part of who I am anymore. I've decided to be open about being bisexual, even though I am happily married to a man."? Under what circumstances? At a girls' night out with her other female friends? Maybe, if they are the kinds of friends who ever discuss their sex lives. I can see that.
But at work? At a PTA meeting? With her parents at Sunday dinner? When she and her husband double-date with another couple (a different one than the one that includes her FWB) to go to the theater and then out for drink? To someone she's just met at a fund-raiser and is making small talk with?
"Hi, I'm Sarah."
"Hank, here. Hi."
"What do you do, Hank? I write educational software."
"I own a fleet of limos, and I raise ostriches on the side."
"Wow. Where'd you think of doing that? By the way, I don't feel comfortable hiding part of who I am anymore. I've decided to be open about being bisexual, even though I am happily married to a man."
"Um, that's great. Oh, I just remembered an appointment I had. Nice meeting you"
OR
(leaning in, eyes lighting up) "Really? Tell me, do you like it when your husband--or maybe another man--watches as you have sex with a woman? Can I introduce you to my girlfriend? Can you talk her into being bi with you so I can watch?"


In any of the above cases, it would be seen as a bizarre, unwarranted, inappropriate admission. And while she doesn't have to talk about what she does--while being bi is part of who she is not what she does--it is about who she does, which seems to most people like TMI.
62
BDF @ 60
Not questioning your observation, yet interested in your take on the reasons for this behavior.
63
Nocute @61: "while being bi is part of who she is not what she does--it is about who she does, which seems to most people like TMI."
Then most people are wrong. I don't know how I can put this any more clearly. "I am bi" says NOTHING about who a person may or may not be, currently, in the recent or distant past, be having sex with. If people are making assumptions, then they're being rude.
TLTL can mention that she is bi when the conversation turns to topics of a personal nature. So yes, in other words, she can come out to people she's comfortable discussing dating and relationships with generally. No one's obligated to come out mid-conversation, as you say, or to people whose personal lives she knows nothing about nor wants to. But if she wants her good friends, family members or close colleagues to know, it may never come up, so she'll just have to say it.
And you know what, most people are unlikely to be fazed. It was a real relief finding that out.
64
@BDF, I guess it's really the issue of her presumed monogamy being rectified, not the fact that the person she's having extra-marital sex with is a woman that I see as the potential concern.

I understand the liberation that would come with being honest about who you are. I get that it would be a relief realizing that most people are unfazed by bisexuality or one's bisexuality.
It's just that this is a relationship which, even though it's being undertaken with the knowledge and approval of the spouses, is kind of private and hidden.
If this couple has been operating in the world as a monogamous unit, and is going to continue to prefer to be perceived as monogamous, then outing herself as bisexual is either outing herself as non-monogamous, or seems to be just an identity statement out of the blue.
65
CMD @62:
@60 was one of my rare, tension-breaking, light-hearted remarks. But it is the case that I've noticed far more biphobia among gay people than among straight people.
Reasons being:
1. Because of the whole numbers thing, a bisexual is more likely to "leave a gay partner for" / date an opposite-sex partner next. To a hurting ex, that feels like a blow not just to you but to your entire sexuality.
2. Bisexuals, as Dan says, are able to hide in closets far more easily than GL people, and many resent us for that. We can "claim straight privilege"; we have the option of engaging in happy OS relationships. GL people see us as having choices that they don't.
3. Many gay people, before they discovered their true orientation, went through a period of wondering if they were bisexual -- which may have been a less scary thought than being gay, for the reasons in Point 2. Therefore, when someone claims to be bisexual, they project and think "You're gay, you just don't want to admit it."
4. Militant lesbians particularly hate men and think their fellow queer women have sold out to the patriarchy when they have sexual relationships with "the enemy."
5. A lot of GL people try to make a point of convincing society at large that LGBT people are "just as normal as everyone else." Gay people aren't these flamboyant drag queen types, they are buttoned-down, family oriented, church-going suburbanites who just want to get married to their monogamous partners and have kids together. Bisexuals -- particularly non-monogamous ones -- and trans people blow that "normal" image they've tried very hard to cultivate.

Standard disclaimer that these are attitudes I have witnessed among some gay people, not all, etc.
66
Nocute @64: If someone is gay, a bear, into CBT and water sports, is he obligated to tell his friends and colleagues he is gay, a bear, into CBT and water sports, or can he simply say "I'm gay"? The rest is none of their business, right?
67
@16: Actually, worrying about the kids was what made me realize that although happily monogamous and married to an incredible man, having my bisexuality be known is important. Why? Well, first, the potential genetic component. If I like girls, there's a damn good chance that one of my girls will like girls (in fact, they both do, and so does my son). I certainly don't want to put them through the stress of, "Well, mom and dad always claim to be supportive, but what if it is one of us?" Secondly, my father-in-law died suddenly and WAY too young of a heart attack. My husband takes MUCH better care of himself than his father, and god forbid history repeat itself... but if it did, my kids know that anyone new I might love, I would love regardless of genitalia. They have grown up knowing that I dated both men and women before I fell in love with their Dad, and with the mantra "It's about the heart, not the parts."

And, @60, you're totally right. The number of people who are biphobic is pretty amazing. The perception being that you just want to fuck everyone. Right--we have zero standards at all...we're just looking for a lay, constantly. We're also totally incapable of being faithful or in a happily monogamous relationship. THESE are the things I HATE about being out as bi. Thankfully, they seem to at lessen as we get older...either because people get smarter, or we stop putting ourselves in situations where we might be assaulted by ignorant idiots.

That said, outing yourself is a personal choice, but it's not as gut wrenching as it seems. Casual is the way to go. The less of a big deal it is to you, the less drama others SHOULD feel the need to cause about it. Good luck all!
68
CMD @53: Congrats on coming out at work! :)
69
@66: BDF, point well-made.

@67: badassmama, I see your point, too. But the difference between you and TLTL is that you have a same-sex relationship or some same-sex dating in your history; you can tell your kids stories from your past that feature former boyfriends or former girlfriends. You don't need to come out in a formal way. If someone asked, you could just say, "yes, I have dated both men and women; I'm bi" and be done with it. Now you are in a marriage that either is or is presumed to be monogamous. At the least, it sounds as if you're socially monogamous. You can be open about your bi identity without disclosing the way you conduct your marriage, which you might especially be recluctant to do if you aren't monogamous and you have kids.

Your past dating history is what TLTL doesn't have. She can't just tell a story about that time when she and an old ex-girlfriend ran out of gas on the first date and her dad had to come to her rescue and generously let her take his car so they could continue their date, and then walked to the gas station with the five gallon jug and back to the car himself. Her friends, her co-workers, her parents and siblings, her neighbors: all think her marriage is monogamous and TLTL wants to keep it that way. Here's what she says:
"I'm finding that I don’t really want to let people in on the private details of my marriage. So how does a socially monogamous, bi, married-to-a-dude lady without a lady-loving past to refer to, go about coming out?"
I thought she might have kids, but she doesn't mention them. She describes herself as "30 something," so she may or may not have children, but if she does, they are likely to be far too young to be aware of mommy and daddy having a separate life.

It's not the bisexuality that is confounding her; it's the nonmonogamy.
70
I'm a lot like this lady.

I've been married for 17 years. I'm monogamous. I have had very few homosexual experiences. But I am full on 100% bisexual.

For a long long time I thought it didn't matter. I'm just with my husband now. It literally doesn't matter.

But then I had a daughter. She's in middle school now and we've talked a lot, A LOT, about sexuality, about being a woman and about the burdens and wonders of being women. I sadly let many moments pass where I could have told her I was bisexual but I let my own bi-phobia get in the way. I didn't want her to think I was going to leave her dad. Or have an affair. Or bring strange women into the house. The ignorances I grew up with.

One night we were talking and I said it. I told my daughter I was bisexual. I explained that it doesn't mean I am going to leave her dad or get a girlfriend. I have no interest in such things. I'm happily fulfilled by her dad. She burst into tears! She said that she was bisexual but was too afraid to tell me because she was afraid it meant that she couldn't ever have what I have, a happy monogamous relationship.

That of course lead to long talk about what is and isn't fact about bisexuality.

I'm glad I had this talk when she was 11 and not too much later.
71
@59 BDF - sure; first off I should mention, my assumption is that this is really about an expression of american im-the-story-here culture and that LW isn't pondering a political statement. From my vantage point, she's basically fully realized her romantic and sexual desires. What's left for her? She doesn't seem to be hiding anything. What could "coming out" even mean to her? Call me a cynic, but it seems like she just wants to generate some attention and possibly put an "identity" arrow in her quiver. Alternate theories?
72
Nocute, I think I finally get your meaning. You're saying that when she says "I'm bisexual," people will automatically just hear that as "I'm having sex with a man and a woman right now." And therefore, she will have just told people that she's having sex with a man and a woman right now. Yes? But that's NOT what it means necessarily, and just because it's accurate in this case, doesn't mean she has to confirm or elaborate. Who she's having sex with isn't their business and discussing who she's having sex with isn't required for her to be out.
73
God damn it, this kind of thing (this letter, most of these comments) is WHY we bisexuals come out (when we choose to). So that people of every other orientation will see that we exist and are found in many different habitats -- that sometimes we are monogamous, sometimes not, sometimes very experienced with both sexes, sometimes not. The only way to spread that enlightening info is for more of us to come out. You have to decide whether the ease of staying in is a luxury or a trap for you personally.
74
Penny @70: Wow, what a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. You and badassmama, thank you for your stories about being out to your kids. I'm child-free and never had to think about how hard it would be to come out to my children. You two are so brave and awesome. <3

I guess I will have to think about how and when to come out to my niece and nephews, but that's a lot lower stakes. They live in a different country, for one. But I do want them to know that I'm a safe relative to come out to should they turn out to be queer, or non-monogamous, or genderqueer, or anything they might not be able to talk to their mothers about.

This is my favourite SLLOTD ever.
75
Fetish @71: Well, my theory is that it kind of sucks when everyone assumes you're straight and you aren't, and you feel like you can't say anything. It feels awkward and false. Why would you want to keep up that pretense? And also, as Dan says, more bisexuals being out helps bisexuals generally. Helps fight stereotypes, yada yada.
76
Bi-romantic? Seriously? That just reeks of bi-erasure. No, come out as bisexual with all that means for you.
77
Just realised that my comment about "mothers" @74 could be construed as sexist -- I said "mothers" meaning my own sisters, not to imply they wouldn't talk to their dads.
78
BDF-
Next questions...
1. Is the queer scene you encountered in UK different than the one you witnessed while still in the US, assuming you were indeed involved?
2. Looking into CFNM as well as feminization stuff on the internet, it seems like the better porn and literature of those come from the UK. Now I know those actors and actresses and everyone in between have all appeared on numerous Shakespearean productions since they were kids, which may explain their fine acting, but is there also an increased genuine interest?
79
PennyLady, I loved the way you came out to your daughter and how that empowered her to come out to you and the really great discussion that followed. That was a great story, and you sound like you have a lovely relationship with your daughter.

@BiDanFan, Kittymama, et. al. It's not just that in the case of this lw, "when she says "I'm bisexual," people will automatically just hear that as "I'm having sex with a man and a woman right now." And therefore, she will have just told people that she's having sex with a man and a woman right now. Yes? But that's NOT what it means necessarily, and just because it's accurate in this case, doesn't mean she has to confirm or elaborate."

Yes, being married and saying, "I'm bisexual," doesn't necessarily mean that you're currently having sex with both men and women. And you're right, BDF, that it's no one's business who she is or isn't having sex with. But TLTL makes it clear that she is a married woman who is socially monogamous and she wants people to continue with their assumption that she is sexually monogamous. I guess TLTL could make it seem as though she had women in her sexual past before she married, or that she is attracted to women but won't act on her attraction to them (or other men) while she's married to her husband.

I understand the need to undo bi-erasure, but I don't think that someone should be told to out a completely different aspect of their lives in a way that may have consequences they don't want for no practical purpose than to be a social justice warrior (thank you Mr. Ven and ciods for that term). TLTL isn't in the position of having to suppress a major part of her life by not coming out. She isn't going to bring her lover to Thanksgiving dinner. When she is invited to a coworker's wedding, she's going to attend with her husband; the fact that her coworker's invitation isn't extended to her extra-marital female lover doesn't mean that she has to go the wedding alone or pretend to be single when she's really coupled. It doesn't betray a giant part of who she is. Coming out about her bisexuality under the current circumstances wouldn't be an act done so that she could have her love recognized; it would be a purely political act; but it would be an act that because of its dependence on outing her as non-monogamous, might lead to social censure totally unrelated to the sex of her lover.

If TLTL and her husband decide to come out about being ethically non-monogamous, then sure, she can mention that her extra-marital lover is a woman. If TLTL and her husband divorce or she is widowed, she can either make a statement about her bisexuality or simply start publicly dating both men and women and people will figure it out.
80
nocutename,

I really don't get the connection you're drawing between saying she's bi (identity) and outing herself as nonmonogamous (behaviour). Do you automatically assume all bisexuals are non monogamous? Do most people? (How do you know?)

It would't occur to me to infer one from the other. I'm weird though.
81
Bad ass @ 67
“If I like girls, there's a damn good chance that one of my girls will like girls”
Not necessarily. Even if this is the case in your family it is far from certain that parents do pass the orientation torch to their off springs. In fact, some children may develop fears that this is indeed the inevitable, hence the need to wait in some cases before coming out to them.
In my case the ex asked me to wait couple more years till they kids will have a better understanding of what “my situation” is all about. It appeared to be helpful to some degree. The girls took it better, the boy was worried he will end up like dad. He didn’t.

82
@70 what a wonderful story!

I have learned so much from this discussion.
83
@77

I don't think that was sexist at all. Mothers carry the joy and burden of talking to their daughters about sexuality and their bodies and it's power and it's vulnerability. It's a special connection.
84
Nocute, I really don't know how else to explain this.
COMING.
OUT.
AS.
BI.
DOES.
NOT.
FORCE.
HER.
TO.
ALSO.
COME.
OUT.
AS.
NON-MONOGAMOUS.

She can keep that bit to herself. Like Alison says, her behaviour is no one else's business.
85
Penny @77: I was thinking of my nephews too though. Both their parents are quite conservative and their dad doesn't talk much at all!
86
BiDanFan,

You and I are bi. What seems so obvious to us as to not need saying may be less obvious to others. It's good to be reminded now and again, so I'm interested in what nocutename has to say and why and how she draws a link.
87
@69: My response was to @16, not TLTL. DarkHorse talks about past relationships and worrying about the kids. It nothing to do with the LW. Hence the tag @16. Just wanted to share my experience as a bi parent. Glad that Penny@70 shared too and that it turned out well. We always have to celebrate our parenting wins...sometimes they feel so few and far between!

A quick story about why else this can be important: our sweet 13 year old son was nervously told by his girlfriend of one year (they'd been friends for 5 years before that) that thought they should break up because she was feeling like she might be interested in girls. He told her that it was ok and he understood-that all the girls in his family were either bi or gay. She burst into tears and hugged him. Best 7th grade (ex)boyfriend in history. Still the best of pals.
88
Coming from what I'm guessing is the same place as nocutename, the question is what actual value comes from a person in a straight, monogamous marriage coming out as bi? There's no natural way to segue into it from a conversation, which basically means making a production out of something that has zero impact on your behavior.

And the issue is less about people refusing to acknowledge that bisexuals exist, so much as the stereotype that they're either partially closeted gays or attention seeking straight people. So while a person coming out as bi may raise visibility a little, if their further behavior looks 100% straight, I don't know that the visibility is worth the part where it just reinforces stereotypes.
89
I totally agree with what Dan has to say here, but as an out bi dude, there's a bit of a hitch.

"The socially monogamous, bi, married-to-a-dude lady opens her mouth and says, "I'm bisexual," as often as circumstances allow/demand"

You'd be stunned how little that happens. What you don't understand as an out gay man, is the way that you normally come out to strangers. Just think how you normally do it:

"Hi, I'm Dan, and this is my husband Terry".

Then you just kind of let them assume that you're both gay. I see it happen all the time actually, at parties and other social gatherings. Queers very rarely say "Oh hi, I'm gay, by the way." That's just socially awkward when it *does* happen anyway. Culturally, we don't really have any other way of declaring our sexuality in mixed company.

Being bi and married to someone of the opposite sex (or really, to any one person), I can't do that. If someone's sexuality comes up in conversation, then sure I try to wedge it in there, but it comes up so infrequently in straight circles. Work is especially hard for an out bi guy to come out without brining up actual sex and that "oh yeah, I've got a girlfriend and a boyfriend on the side and we all got together on the weekend and had a really good time."

Which is, um, yeah. More than a little much.
90
I have never been in a group of women that have referred to themselves as "just us straight girls". I can't imagine someone making that kind of distinction.
91
BiDanFan, Alison Cummins: This is the specific letter I'm responding to:

I’m a 30 something, married female. I had figured I was bi since high school, but had never had the opportunity to really put theory into practice. Well, about 6 months ago I met a married woman and, with the consent of both of our husbands, we hooked up. I went into it with the idea that it would be a one-off thing just for me to satisfy my curiosity about myself and my identity. Instead, we really hit it off and have been meeting up ever since. The sex is amazing, we enjoy each other’s company as friends, and she is so, so smoking hot. I lucked out big time.

My question isn’t what you might think—everyone involved is happy with our FWB situation and we’re both devoted to our husbands. The thing is, I have always felt the desire to be out about being bi, but felt I lacked the certainty or cred to do so with confidence. Now that I'm there, I'm finding that I don’t really want to let people in on the private details of my marriage. So how does a socially monogamous, bi, married-to-a-dude lady without a lady-loving past to refer to, go about coming out? Or does it even matter at this point? Should I just let people assume I’m straight and keep on keeping on eating pussy in private?


I'm not weighing in on the abstract issue of identity vs. behavior or bi-erasure.
TLTL has said clearly that she sees disclosing her bisexuality to be a matter of disclosing her non-monogamous status and she doesn't want to do that. That's all I'm referring to.
92
Having to hide any part of one's life is never a good idea. This LW has a woman as a lover, so what, she has to not go out in public with her. Or if she does, not hold hands or spontaneously kiss.
I suggest she tell those she knows are the biggest gossips,
that a) she is bi and b) she , with her husband's and the woman's husband's approval, has a female lover.
93
nocutename @91,

I read that as, "I don't want to come out by saying, 'I'm fucking my husband and a hot woman!' but I don't know how else to do it."

How else to do it is by saying, "I'm bi." She can do that when people are saying dumb things about the QUILTBAG/GSDs, or she can say it on Facebook on national coming-out day. This avoids the problem she wishes to avoid.

No?
94
@Alison Cummins: Sure, that's what she can do. I suggested this at both #s 45 and 50, and I described it as reactive rather than proactive.
95
I hate the term "eating pussy". It sounds so gross. The only thing worse is "eating you out" (popular in the late 90's). You're not eating, people, you're doing sexy stuff like licking and sucking. Eating is for cheeseburgers, get those teeth the fuck away from my vagina.
96
I dont think its ever ok to announce at work your sexual orientation. Mentioning partners is one thing "I saw a movie with so and so this weekend" or even "Im volunteering for the pride parade this year" or whatever but just explicitly stating "Dude, Im gay/straight/bi " while Im trying to peel sticky labels out of the goddamn printer for the 3rd time WTF? Thats weird. Im usually super chill about the things that come out of other peoples mouths but sexual harassment alarm bells will go off in my head. Are you hitting on me? Do YOU think IM hitting on you? Honestly unless your sexuality means you will be doing all the shitty jobs I dont want to do, I dont care.
97
@88 -- TLTL isn't in a "straight, monogamous marriage." She's in a mixed-orientation marriage. The assumption that it is a straight marriage is the problem here!
98
Just a bunch of Sheilas having a night out. No need to talk straight/ bi or other. Easy as.
99
Ms Fan @65 - I'll grant you 4 and 3, possibly 5 (though that might dip down into anti-bi prejudice rather than biphobia - remember, I go lightly on calling things homophobic). On 2 I recall you as adhering very much to the Linnet Doyle viewpoint of love and relationships; your point may be valid for bi people like yourself in that regard (I have known examples to the contrary). If it were not after 2 am, I'd likely be tempted to start a lengthy conversation about 1, which is a considerably more complex point than is often presented.

My main observations are that much of B and L/G hitting each other with clubs is, if not an outright straight contrivance, then something the Wainthropps see as a benefit to themselves, and rejoice in its continuance accordingly - and that your (and my, for that matter) not wanting children is likely worth exploring for how big a difference it makes.
100
Venn @99: Thanks for weighing in. I agree that there are more bi allies among the GL community than biphobes (an umbrella term I use to mean "having anti-bi attitudes"). I was just offering some examples of anti-bi attitudes that are specific to people who don't have the straight privilege.

Ghost @96: I guess this is why they invented National Coming Out Day.

Nocute @91: So if TLTL's question is "How do I go about coming out without revealing the details of my private life?" the answer is "You say you're bi and don't provide further details about your private life."
And no, "coming out" or "being out" does not require that every person you interact with for two seconds of your life has to know. How many colleagues or acquaintances or neighbours do you know whose sexual orientation you have absolutely no idea about? Yes, Coming Out Day and when bi-/homophobic comments are made in conversation. But she can also attempt to steer the conversation. "Did you see 'Carol'? I thought it was a lovely movie. There aren't enough depictions of married bisexuals."

Chi @88: "While a person coming out as bi may raise visibility a little, if their further behavior looks 100% straight, I don't know that the visibility is worth the part where it just reinforces stereotypes." -- Actually, "bisexual and in a [to all appearances] monogamous marriage" contradicts the stereotype. That's why she should come out. Re-read @73.
101
The elephant in the room is, of course, that what is really going on here is not bi-erasure: it's poly-erasure. After all, the disclosure that one is bisexual might be titillating and fun, but the disclosure that one has romantic/sexual liaisons beyond one's state-sanctioned marriage would raise eyebrows etc. I see this echoed in a lot of the comments: bi-disclosure is important but "it's no one's business who you sleep with." Which is true, EXCEPT for the fact that you're still relegating to the shadows the ladyfriend, who is ALSO a human being.