Monday afternoon, I did what I thought I’d never officially do. Or at least until I got out of journalism.
Until Monday, I only had two secrets left, and one of them wasn’t mine. My sister Theresa told me something when she effectively was on her deathbed, and that secret dies with me because I made a promise to her.
As for the other one, it only recently started gnawing at me. It was in part because it was the only thing left unsaid. I mean, if you’ve read this from the start, I’ve gone into great detail about discovering that the person who molested me when I was a child was serving a life term in a Florida prison (once my third secret), my college partying, getting food poisoning, my yearslong quest to win back the woman who is now my wife, being in such distress because of the conditions of my first journalism job that I had a minor mental heath crisis and then my really big mental health crisis in 2012.
Now that I’ve clumsily ripped off that bandage, it seems ridiculous in retrospect, especially for one of my reasons to leave it unsaid.
One of the reasons that I never officially told anyone that I was bisexual was because I knew I had to deal with the crap that came with being a Black journalist and I didn’t want to be the bisexual Black journalist. Unless I dated a dude and had to then constantly go through the whole spiel of “no, I’m not gay.”
I’ll wait while you all pause for a second and read that previous paragraph again.
Anyway, I’ve known ever since I went through puberty, so this is year 25. Until about 11th grade, I went through varying degrees of denial. I told a select few people in high school and then added it to the list of things I just would not talk about, like my political views, because of my choice of career.
And then I fell in love with a girl and decided it wasn’t really necessary to say anything because I wasn’t going to mess around with anyone else while I was dating her.
Here’s a good place to pull out an aside!
- Bisexuals exist. There’s a B in LGBT+, and it doesn’t stand for bacon. Bisexual erasure is a major problem. I’ll get back to this further down, but that was a deciding factor for this announcement. I’m in a heteronormative relationship, and that does not mean that I was just going through a phase.
- It doesn’t mean that I’m indecisive. As long as she puts up with this and all the other reasons I’m a weirdo, we’re in this for the long haul.
- Bisexuality doesn’t mean you’re hypersexual. I don’t want to “experiment.” I don’t want a threesome, and I don’t want anyone on the side. Bi people are fully capable of finding the one person they want and sticking to them. I found someone, and I want to stick with her for as long as she’ll have me. All those Medium posts or whatever from people “mourning” a part of their identity that they “lost” once they entered into what outwardly looks like a monogamous straight relationship just miss being promiscuous just like all the other gay and straight people who have no business trying to give someone monogamy when they know they’re incapable of it.
And that more or less brings us back here. Because I was in a heteronormative relationship, it morphed into me not mentioning it unless a very pointed question was asked. Surprisingly, it rarely happened despite me having a purple velvet blazer, a shimmery grey blazer, a rose-print sweater and other interesting shirts and shoes over the years.
I erased myself, and it felt increasingly burdensome as bi people gained more exposure among media beyond the stereotypes that reinforced the erasure.
And Monday happened at the convergence of a story that isn’t mine to tell and Twitter being pretty heavy handed with Bi-Visibility Day. I should have had some discussion first and probably should have made a version of this post, but on my work Twitter, I said something along the lines of “If my wardrobe never tipped you off, guess what?” And then, on Facebook, I said I’m nearly 40 and no longer care about your opinion and then posted a GIF of Detective Rosa Diaz from the 100th episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Another contributing factor was that I think I missed the window of bringing this all up earlier. It took me a few years to see an LGBT reporter who was “the LGBT reporter.” But I was so deep into my whole I don’t need to say anything unless I get serious with a boy that I remained silent.
I got pretty close to not caring and blurting it out in the summer of 2011, but Tropical Storm Lee struck the Hopewell News and delayed my departure to North Carolina. My plan was to get a comfortable enough distance away from everyone so that I didn’t have to deal with any blow back. Because, you know, with the whole erasure thing, I didn’t know how anyone was going to react.
I was afraid then. I was afraid in the seconds leading up to me nearly being crass online about this. I’m still afraid. There’s a handful of people on Facebook I excluded. I’ve noticed that I’ve periodically checked my number of friends to see if it’s gone down. I’ve winced at incoming calls and texts from friends and family. I briefly thought one of my closest friends blocked my number. (I was told through his roommate’s phone that his cell was just out of commission.) I’m waiting for all of the assumptions that are going to come, along with me being the Black editor of a publication that literally just emblazoned “truth, community, equity” on shirts.
But, overall, I don’t feel any different. I mean, you know everything else. I don’t have Christmas lights I was waiting to wear after this. I already was being myself. I might be a bit more vocal about some LGBT+ issues and call out bisexual erasure like racism, but that’s about it.
Anyway, here’s the Wikipedia entry on bisexual erasure. If you want more scholarly works, there are footnotes at the end.