Bi MeFi Man concerned about coming out to immediate family
May 4, 2012 5:53 AM   Subscribe

How do I tell my family I'm bisexual?

Needless to say, this is a bit complex.

I'm a 28 year-old man living over 1700 miles from his family. This will most likely be conducted over the telephone, not in person.

First, I'll start with how I came to identify as bisexual. Next, I will give a little bit of background for each of my family members. Lastly, I will pose some questions which I hope some of you can help me answer, based on the information in this post. However, if any of you have questions for me, I have set up for anonymous correspondence. However, please try not to email answers unless you also post them in this thread, as I hope my situation might benefit another soul out there who is grappling with similar issues.

I have always been attracted to men, and throughout my life I've responded to that attraction in different ways. Never in a negative way. But never really in an active way, either. Until January of this year, when I finally came across the right person on this gigantic planet who embodied a myriad of the qualities my attraction seems to search for. One night he and I got busy- busier than any of my previous homosexual experiences. It was oral sex, but hot, passionate oral sex is still sex none the less. Up to that point in my life, I had identified as straight. But a poor straight man I would have become, as such a homosexual experience as that is something I like, repeatedly. In February, I came out to a close friend and eventually most everyone in my present life. Most of them aren't surprised.

However, I think my family would be surprised. I have lived far across the country from them since I was 18, and it was only after moving out of the house at that age that I began my homosexual experiences. They have met every girl I've ever seriously dated, they have never met the guys (or girls) I've fooled around with. Two years ago, I began volunteering for the local Pride Parade, and they were confused as to why. So I really can't imagine they'll see this coming.

That said, I'm mostly concerned about explaining myself to my father. He is 73, and last February he went under the knife for a triple bypass and had a couple valves flushed. It was preventative, and he is back to his old self now, but at the time it was terrifying. I found out when I received a phone call from my parents about 6 hours before he was scheduled for surgery. Then it was three and a half days of silence. I couldn't get in touch with them, and I understood why that was, but I couldn't help but desire to connect with my family. Most desperately, I vowed that they would know me for who I am before any one of us (of which there are 5) go. Part of our identity as a person is our sexual identity, and this they must know. I want to explain to my father why I am coming out to him, but I don't even know where to begin. He's never been outwardly homophobic, but I've never really seen him in a conversation that's related to anything LGBT.

However, I do know where I want to begin as far as which family member I will call, first. My younger sister is a very down-to-earth person, and I think would be the most accepting of the family. What I mean to say is that she wouldn't make me feel like I had to explain myself. She will probably just note this newly revealed fact about my life and carry on as we were.

From there I will probably tell my brother. However, we rarely actually talk on the phone. How do I begin a conversation that will largely consist of coming out to someone I should really catch up to, first?

I don't know why, but I get the feeling that the relationships between my family and I will be forever altered. I do know that there really is no way to tell how they'll react until they're given the opportunity, but is there any way to ease the worry and make sure I'm heard through the swell of confusion this is likely to cause?


tl;dr: I am worried that the only constant relationships in my life, that of me and my family (and especially my parents), will drastically change and set my world in a spin.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How do you tell your family that you are bisexual? The same way that you tell them that you are straight. You wait until you are in a serious, long term relationship and then you invite them to meet your partner.

If you make a big deal out of this (which it seems like you want to) then you will stress your family out needlessly.

Yes, this is huge for you, life changing. It's not that big of a thing for everyone around you. Your parents will be sad because yes, they probably wanted grandchildren, but otherwise, if you are cool about it, most everyone else will be also, in their own time.
posted by myselfasme at 6:09 AM on May 4, 2012 [15 favorites]

If you feel that "they must know" then I guess they must know. But it sounds to me as if you're not close enough to any of them (except your sister) to actually need to come out.

I think society makes much too much of this "bi" thing (where I come from it's perfectly OK to be gay, but don't try to be a bi guy. Bi gals, however, are OK). Your family if bound to over-react.

I'm not saying hide things from them -- but much like you don't really want to know what your parents got up to in the bedroom in their day, they probably don't really want to know what you get up to.

Bottom line is I agree that your relationship will most likely never be the same, so unless you feel very strongly about it, don't.
posted by wrm at 6:10 AM on May 4, 2012

Cross that bridge when you have to. That is, when you date a guy and want to introduce him to your family.
posted by Tarumba at 6:15 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

"I vowed that they would know me for who I am before any one of us (of which there are 5) go."

That resonated with me. I think you need to share your thoughts from this paragraph with your family if you decide to come out in the way that you describe.

Coming out is unique to everyone-some people prefer the approach stated above while others prefer to have a conversation specifically about this. This is up to you. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There is only the right way for you.

With that being said, I think that your family will have enough time to get to know you and this component of your identity without having to do this soon. If you can, wait until you find a partner that you want to introduce to your family first.

I think speculating about how each person will react is only going to terrify you. You never truly know how someone will respond until after everything's said and done. People can surprise you like that.

Many people also struggle with new information about their loved ones because they perceive others as static. So, if your family members do react negatively then give them time to process this information. After all, it took you quite some time to figure out this component of your identity.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
posted by livinglearning at 6:24 AM on May 4, 2012

from your description this dates to january of this year. why don't you wait until you've processed it yourself before you try explaining it to other people? what's the hurry? also, if you're not that close with your family, how about just calling them up to shoot the breeze first? frankly your plan does not sound like such a hot idea.
posted by facetious at 6:26 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

It will probably be fine. Don't make a big deal about it. Furthermore, your parents need to know about your love life, not your sex life, so it might make more sense to wait to introduce them to a romantic partner.

If you're going to make a point of telling people, just start with the youngest people in your family and work your way up to the oldest.

Alternately, you could just update your Facebook status, which I how I did it.
posted by modernserf at 6:34 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I agree with the above posters. The only reason people need to know about your sexual orientation is for social/family/relationship reasons, meaning, you have a partner whose status they need to understand and respect. If you know for near-certain at some point that all your future partners are likely to be same-sex then yeah, you could give family and friends a heads-up pre-partnering, but otherwise why get everyone all worked up over something that probably will never have anything to do with them?

Being bi is slightly more complicated than being gay. Many bisexuals choose a side, so to speak, and their attraction to the other gender becomes more theoretical, or perhaps a side-dish of sexual activity that isn't ever going to spill over into introducing the side-dish to mom and dad or bringing him/her to Christmas dinner.

I feel like revealing sexual proclivities that are not necessary for social/relationship purposes is a little TMI. Just like you don't need to describe to Mom, Dad and Sis that you and your significant other are really into anal or enjoy dressing up in costumes for sex, or that feet really turn you on, they also don't need to know that you find guys really hot unless you're actually in a relationship with one.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:36 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Furthermore, your parents need to know about your love life, not your sex life, so it might make more sense to wait to introduce them to a romantic partner.

Oh, this is a much clearer and more succinct version of what I was trying to say.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:40 AM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

If you feel that being bi is "what you are" versus "what you do" than it makes complete sense to come out to your family. You want them to know who you are, not who they think you are. So, tell them with love in your heart and a deep understanding that change is hard for people. You are asking them to come to know a different you, in a sense. Something it has taken you some time to understand/accept about yourself. Be generous that it might take them some time for them as well.
posted by Pineapplicious at 6:45 AM on May 4, 2012

The only time that your sex life is your parents' business is when someone to whom you're partnered is going to join the family.
posted by theraflu at 6:57 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can see both sides of what people are saying here. You feel like you're hiding something important about yourself from your family. But on the other hand, if it's not something that's going to come up naturally in conversation or with you bringing a guy home for Christmas or whatever, it's entirely possible that they don't really need to know.

I think you kind of missed an opportunity to come out when your family wondered why you were volunteering for Pride - can you just come right out and say, "I volunteer at Pride because I'm bisexual - I've never talked about it with you guys because I never felt like it was something you needed to know about, but I don't want to feel like I'm hiding anything from you either"?

Easy for me to say! I know!
posted by mskyle at 7:02 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh dear. I disagree with many previous responders. So I'll give my two cents.

I believe you get to decide what you want to share with your family. YOU. If you feel that you want to come out to your family, absolutely do it. Obs, you don't need to share sexual details. No one needs to do that with their folks. However, saying that you are happy because you finally have keyed in on who you are is fine. Being bisexual is NOT just about who you have sex with....but that you are open to sharing your life with individuals of either gender. And that you are attracted to both males and females and that they you wanted them to know that. And that in the future, your significant other may be female or male. And you wanted to let them know now that you are bisexual. You understand it may be disconcerning but it was important that they know who you are.

Starting with siblings is good. They can be more understanding and can help gauge the response of parents. You can also work on your wording and it gets easier, as I'm sure you know from outing yourself to friends. Remember that there may be some initial harsh reactions, or shock. Take heart that time tends to calm things down. If you can remember to respond with calmness and love, it will make it easier to come together later.

It will absolutely affect your relationship. I will say that almost every LGBT person I know (self included) has had their relationship shift. Some don't have relationships with their parents any more but many others have stronger relationships after the transitional period. Dan Savage (podcast, writer, LGBT activist, sex column, etc) often suggests giving family a year to adjust and if they are still having a hard time adjusting having a stern conversation about judgment and acceptance. Everyone, IMHO, deserves to share who they are with their family if they choose to and I support your desire to do so. Certainly straight people get to. I wish you well and good luck.
posted by Kitty Cornered at 7:09 AM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

You feel like you're hiding something important about yourself from your family. But on the other hand, if it's not something that's going to come up naturally in conversation or with you bringing a guy home for Christmas or whatever, it's entirely possible that they don't really need to know.

What mskyle says makes a lot of sense to me. I think you need to work through this first. Nobody here can anticipate how your family will react and what circumstances will make it easier for them. I came out to my parents before I had met someone because I knew that, as hurt as they were going to be, it would be worse if they thought I had been hiding a relationship as well. And actually, it didn't go so well. I felt the need to be honest very strongly, but in the end they just weren't the kind of people to welcome this news in any way or at any time.

I like the sound of your younger sister. I'd encourage you to come out to her first as you plan, and discuss with her if, how and when to raise it with the rest of your family. Good luck.
posted by londonmark at 7:17 AM on May 4, 2012

It is needlessly complicated with being bi. I am sure if you were gay the MeFi world wouldn't tell you to keep your sex life to yourself and wait until you have a romantic partner to introduce. But, because you are bi and bisexuality is this alien sexuality keep it to yourself.

Just tell them. They can react however they like and you have no control over it. Call your sister and tell her. Call your mother, call your father. The news will circulate after that. Be open to questions and give then time to say hurtful things and later retract then.

It sounds like there is a lot of anxiety around this, as there is for almost every queer person. But do show your family that you love them enough to be show them who you are. If you don't, do it for your niece or nephew who may come out as bi in the future. The number one thing that stops homophobes from being homophobes is knowing someone who is queer. So pay it forward and make this world slightly better for future queers to come.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:19 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I want to clarify - when I say "maybe they don't need to know," I believe that you have every right to tell your family if that's what you want to do. I just think you also have every right not to tell them if you feel like that makes more sense for you. It sounds like you want to tell them, and it sounds like you think they wouldn't be too horrified about it, so if you can tell them in a low-key way, that seems like it would be perfect. Start with your sister!

Anecdote time: a friend of mine (female) identified as bi and was dating girls pretty much exclusively for a couple of years before coming out to her family, and she only came out to her family when she started dating the girl she ended up marrying. This friend had good reason to believe that her family would *not* take it well. (They didn't.)

I thought that keeping it a secret was a terrible idea at the time (not that it was any of my business). But it all worked out OK. She isn't close with her family, but she wasn't close with them before, either. They came to the wedding. It was a perfectly acceptable decision on her part to not tell them earlier.

I guess at some point you're going to feel like you *need* to tell them for one reason or another, and maybe you're at that point now. It's just you can't really go to your father and say "I had hot passionate oral sex with another man and it was awesome!" Well, unless your father is really different from my father.
posted by mskyle at 8:02 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think you would be posting this question if it did not feel important to you to share this part of yourself (I don't like the word disclose - it's society that has made it hidden/positioned heterosexism on you/all of us). So I tend to disagree with folks above who said "wait to share it until you're dating someone." That to me implies that you are only bi, only queer, only etc. when you are "actively engaging" in being sexual with "like" folks - my queerness, and perhaps your bi-ness (I cannot speak for you) is way beyond what my bits look like and what the bits of the person I am getting it on with look like.

I also acknowledge and honor how challenging it can be to share who you are in a world were people (because of their own fear, shame, insecurities, ultimately) will not accept a whole/complete/honest you. It can be incredibly emotionally challenging. You can lose people that you love. I still have problems with my grandparents around this issue - even though they comprise 1/2 of the 4 people who really were my only family growing up.

But being open about who I am, the worlds that I navigate through, has been healing - even with the loss of relationship on a true/deep level with them - because it has allowed me to live my life with greater internal integrity. It is painful to hear them always say, "when will you bring a man home?" over and over again. Painful when they tell my partner, "if you're such a good friend, why can't you find her a husband?" And even more challenging that they cannot witness the happiness in my life. But you know what? I have incredible happiness in my life by being who I am. And their fear, bias, etc. cannot change that.

You do not have to share anything about your identity with your family. You get to always choose to do so and I am not about to tell you to "do" or "not do" anything. I just had to jump in and say yes, this is challenging. But life is challenging. Living an honest life is even more challenging. But I think it can be worth it, despite the real risks that come alone with that decision.

I would start out with someone (your sister) who you think will be more supportive. Having an ally in this journey can be invaluable. I also agree that, and I do think that this is sad, many "LGBTQ" folks have strong chosen families - even when their "I joined this crew without choice" families are not supportive. Oh, and you do not have to talk about sex with your family to give them this information. I agree with Kitty Cornered above.
posted by anya32 at 8:34 AM on May 4, 2012

Your parents will be sad because yes, they probably wanted grandchildren

Please note that bi-sexuals, homosexuals, and heterosexuals alike are all perfectly capable of creating domestic situations centered around children, biological or otherwise. Your sexual orientation does not in any way change your options for a family, just the obstacles you might face getting there.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:36 AM on May 4, 2012 [13 favorites]

The only reason people need to know about your sexual orientation is for social/family/relationship reasons, meaning, you have a partner whose status they need to understand and respect.

Whew, that's really not the only reason. It sure wasn't mine. I needed my parents to stop making assumptions about my sexual orientation because it felt like lying, and it felt like I was keeping a door shut between us - at least with my mom, as my dad and I had always been less close. But when he found out (kind of accidentally, since I hadn't had a chance to tell him yet), it was a big relief.

Parents already "know" the sexual orientation of their kids, if by "know" you mean "assume they're straight."
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't think your family has a 'right' to know, but equally your desire to tell them is valid and seems important to you.

Agree with above posters who say your little sister would be the best first step. To help you make the other calls, perhaps write down a script for the actual 'disclosure' (for lack of a better word, because nothing about being bi is, or should be, shameful).

E.g. 'Hey, [brother], look, I know we haven't talked nearly as much as should have recently, and I'd love to meet up soon and rectify that. However, I'm actually calling because I want you to know that I am bisexual. I know this is coming out of the blue, but I want to be completely honest about myself around my family.'

However, I dropped in to answer with this piece of advice: remember to tell your sister that the rest of the family does not know yet. I found out my brother was bisexual when I was 12, and I accidentally told my mum, assuming she already knew. It was totally fine, my brother forgave me and my parents were neither surprised nor upset, but I sure felt guilty about it for a long, long time.
posted by dumdidumdum at 9:02 AM on May 4, 2012

You are kinda my mom. I think I've always known my mom was bisexual, but coming out to the rest of the family was difficult because she knew that not only would they be surprised, but that they might possibly be less accepting. To be honest, although none of them would say that they are homophobic, homosexuality/bisxuality/any other kind of sexuality than heterosexuality makes them somewhat uncomfortable and there was a lot of "this is just a phase" talk, which is incredibly frustrating for a grown woman in her 40s who eventually was married to another woman to hear. I also think that the way that my mother handled it with the rest of the family didn't help - she didn't really address it until she was in a fairly serious relationship so she was kind of lying by omission for a while, and that hurt my grandmother in particular, quite a lot. She also tried to force people to accept her choices before they were ready or whether or not they agreed with them, which just created tension.

Related to the last point, what actually changed the relationships between my mom and everyone else the most had everything to do with her choice in partners and much less to do with her sexuality. It wasn't that these were women, it's that these were BAD people (for her). My mom's personality and lifestyle changed quickly and dramatically and it irrevocably altered relationships, especially with me. I think that this is something that many people fear when they have a family member come out to them - that this person is going to be different from the person they knew and loved, in a way that they can't understand or that is hurtful. And you can't guarantee that won't happen.

So, I can't really ease your mind that it will go as you hope, but I can say that from my experience with my mom, you might want to have some sort of script of the things you absolutely must be heard on. And get your sister's advice on how to handle this, if appropriate.
posted by sm1tten at 9:03 AM on May 4, 2012

Gah, I'm torn between some really practical considerations here. While I totally accept and agree with all the posters who are saying that your family is on a need-to-know basis concerning your sexual orientation, and that you currently don't have what I'd term "actionable intelligence" to share with them, I can tell that you have a need to share this with them. And where Coming Out is concerned, the right of the individual to self-express (or not) in the manner and time of their choosing is paramount. You should tell your family. You should start with your sister, who will immediately tell your parents, even if you swear her to secrecy. Why? Because they already know. They already probably speculate about it. They already probably comb your Facebook page looking for hints that you're dating a guy. I come from a family with five kids too, and I know how this grapevine works.

Two years ago, I began volunteering for the local Pride Parade, and they were confused as to why. So I really can't imagine they'll see this coming.

Oh anon, someday you're going to look back on that sentence and realize how adorably hilarious it is. Hon, you've already come out to your family. Unless you specifically said, "I'm a straight ally and I believe in equal rights for everyone," your telling them that you were volunteering at Pride was as good as an admission that you're not straight. They'll certainly have been confused, having met your previous girlfriends. But in this day and age? Anything goes - and whether they like it or not, they'll have come to appreciate the fact that old assumptions have gone the way of the dodo.

Sure, you're worried. And who wouldn't be? Everyone is when they come out. (And many rightly so.) Give them time, and give them the leeway to say things that might hurt a bit. Remember that parents are uniquely able to push our buttons. They're just people. And people have faults. One fault for a lot of straight parents is just not being able to grok the whole homosexual thing. But many of them have secretly struggled with it themselves, and react out of shame and guilt. Remember that no matter how they react - it is NOT about you. It is about them. Even if they react with unconditional support and love, that's not really about you - that says much more about them as people.

As for the how you do this thing? Same way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Tell your sister. A positive or neutral response will be a shot in the arm to help you move forward. Don't swear her to secrecy, more secrets aren't what you need in your life. But it is fair to tell her that you would prefer to tell your parents, that you respect your relationship with them and that you'd prefer that they not hear this from someone else.

Godspeed, anon. You're going to do great.
posted by jph at 9:06 AM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Oh, and even if you just need someone to freak out with and digitally hold your hand, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by jph at 9:07 AM on May 4, 2012

1) Please do not wait until you have a long-term romantic male partner to tell your family. He does not deserve to be put in that situation. Your relationship with this future partner does not need the extra pressure of your coming out. Also, it limits your chances of finding a serious relationship. When I was single, I would have never dated someone who was not out to their parents.

2) I agree with other posters that once you told your family you were volunteering for Pride they most likely got a clue. I would handle your coming out by starting with the siblings you think will be most accepting and working your way up from there. However, do not delay in moving from one family member to another. Even if you ask one not to share with another, the longer you wait, the more likely the ones you have come out to will tell the other ones. Finally, and this may be hard, the reactions may surprise you. Some who you thought would be accepting may reject you, and some who you thought would have difficulty might be indifferent or totally accepting. There is no way to predict someone else's reaction.
posted by hworth at 10:03 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

["grow up" and "wtf" comments considered harmful for community discussion. Comment if you can be helpful otherwise keep moving. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:11 AM on May 4, 2012

For my money, you should ignore all of this advice not to tell your parents. And anyway, that's not the question you're asking, is it? You want to know "how" not "if." But just to reaffirm, it sounds like you've been thinking about this for a long time, it's a big part of your life, and you want to be out. Congratulations! Tell them! Some people may be bi only in the bedroom, but it sounds like that's not you. Who you date (not sleep with, date) is information about your social, as well as sexual, life.

This is a total off-the-top-of-my-head-bullshit-theory, but I think maybe we can divide families into three groups:
1. Families who are PSYCHED to have a gay kid! No need to worry about these families, they will be thrilled. (Not sure if these really exist, but they should.)
2. Families who are really, truly troubled by the news that they have a gay kid. In fact, if you come out, they might disown you. If you're bi, you might want to withhold that from these families until you are engaged or otherwise sure that you won't be able to avoid telling them throughout the rest of your life, like mskyle's friend.
3. Families who are neither for nor against. They probably have generally positive or neutral views about LGBTQ folks, but you can't be sure how they'll react to having one in the family. There might be some tough times at first. But it does seem likely to come out alright--you think that once they adjust, they'll be accepting.

It sounds like your family is #3. I believe that in this case, if you're comfortable with coming out early (ie, maybe before you have found a serious partner) that it's a good idea. This way, they have their adjustment period now. The the stress that will cause for you won't cause stress in a serious romantic relationship--that can be a really hard situation. My family is like this, and I'm really glad that they'd already been in the know for a year or two before I told them about my serious girlfriend. I didn't have to stress about telling them about HER, I could happily share my new relationship and knew that they would be okay. You sound serious about dating men in the future (maybe you are getting serious with Mr. January?) and I think you should definitely tell them now, so they will be prepared to be happy for you when you do get serious with a man. (On previous, hworth makes the point I've been heading for but not quite hitting. It is good for your chances at getting into a relationship, AND good for that future relationship for you to be out to your family.)

I think you should make use of your history of Pride volunteerism to help you bring this up. It's hard on the phone, and this might help you to feel less pressure. You can call your brother to catch up, and when he asks what you're up to... "Oh, well, I'm volunteering for Pride again this year. I'm really glad I volunteered a couple of years ago... actually, I wanted to tell you that I'm going to start identifying as bisexual. I don't have a boyfriend right now, but this is something I've been thinking about a lot in the past few years, and now that I'm comfortable with it I wanted to share it with the family. Sister already knows, and I'm planning to tell Parents, too. Let me know if you have any questions." Or something like that. You might want to make all of these calls in the same relatively small period of time, so your family can talk amongst themselves about it.

And yeah, be prepared for some tough times maybe, but it will likely settle in a year or so, and it sounds like your sister at least will be supportive, which will really help. Good luck! It's a tough thing to do, but you will be glad you did it! It's nice out here. :)
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2012

Whew, that's really not the only reason. It sure wasn't mine. I needed my parents to stop making assumptions about my sexual orientation because it felt like lying, and it felt like I was keeping a door shut between us

I guess I don't understand this because my experience was totally different. I'm bi-ish, at one time completely thought of myself as bi, and while I was never ashamed of it or even really cared what my family thought about my love life, I never told them because it never felt like there was anything to tell. I'm not going to tell my mom or dad anything that amounts to "I have these sexual/romantic desires..."

Now, had I ever seriously dated a woman, or knew that I planned to date women and might get serious with one, then yeah, I would have told them.

I personally don't feel any need to discuss my most intimate feelings, dreams and desires with my family in order to feel close to them, but apparently YMMV.

As a parent I would have no problem whatsoever if my daughter told me she was gay or was bi and planning to date women in the near future. But I would not be comfortable discussing what amounts to "I like to have sex with girls sometimes" if it's not likely to culminate in my being introduced to a romantic partner. But I guess I should not state so confidently what the OP should or shouldn't do. Obviously there are people who feel differently.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:38 AM on May 4, 2012

Honestly, speaking as a bi person, I feel like I have to come out to my family again every time I am newly single, in the dating pool, dating someone seriously, and so on. Every time there's a change in genders of the person I'm dating, my family & friends are confused because bisexuality is just a phase, right? The six years I spent married to a woman is just a passing phase now that I'm divorced and dating a man. Blaghh. It doesn't matter that I've been pretty consistent about labeling myself "bisexual" since I was in college. Many people just don't seem to get it (both straight and gay people, for the record).

It was important to me to come out to my parents while I was single because I loved them and we'd always talked about my social life. I absolutely understand what you're saying about keeping a door closed. That's why they call it the closet! So tell them if that's what you want, because it is important to you that they know.

Be prepared for them to be weird about it for awhile, but try to allow them to ask strange questions and keep it friendly. I like Dan Savage's rule about giving them a year and then having a serious discussion about tolerance.

But do tell them. The relief after you've said it aloud to them will be amazing, even exhilarating. Really!
posted by aabbbiee at 3:10 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm really surprised at the number of responses you've gotten from people who think being honest about your bisexuality doesn't matter unless you're in a same-sex relationship. UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT... (and, more to the, point, unclear on the question :)).

I do agree with the responses that suggest getting back in good touch with the family members you're less close with -- building up a connection as an interim step. I also agree with jph that they might be less surprised than you think. Most of all, I see you strongly feel the need to be open. And naturally, the disconnection you feel with some of your family might ease in certain ways, once your relationship with your family isn't colored by a secret that weighs on your mind as much as this clearly does.
posted by kalapierson at 10:58 PM on May 4, 2012

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