The Bisexual Index

Coming Out As Bisexual

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Telling people that you are bisexual can seem a big step, but for many it's a way to become comfortable with your sexuality and to stop feeling like you're "hiding".

But should you come out? And if you decide you should, who should you come out to, and how should you do it?

The first person you need to come out to, and perhaps the only person you really have to come out to, is yourself. Are you bisexual? When you come out to yourself it can be quite enlightening - being honest about who you are and who you're attracted. It can feel like taking a load off of your shoulders. Take your time, look at what you feel and what feels right for you. There is no rush!

Fred - "When I was a teenager and came out to my parents and older sister, they said they already knew I was bi. That's been a bit of a theme for me, actually. I've had a second phase of coming out bi, since my marriage ended, as some people who first knew me as 'a person married to a man' assumed I was heterosexual. Nobody seems particularly surprised to discover that I'm bi, though!"

If you've done that, and you feel you do want to come out to others, then you need to pick your moment. You don't have to do it the very next day if you don't want to. Some people find it's easier to come out as bisexual after first attending a bisexual event and hearing how other people have done it. There's a list of local groups on our Bi in the UK page.

Mood matters too: if you solemnly say "I have something very important to tell you, I think you had better sit down" then they'll be assuming it's something horrendous, and that can put people in the wrong frame of mind! We suggest not making your sexuality seem to be some sort of doom-laden revelation - instead it's often best just to casually mention it when the other person is relaxed and in a good mood.

Some people won't see why you want to tell them, or would prefer not to have a conversation that is directly about sexualities. Perhaps instead of taking a deep breath and "I'm bisexual!" you could come out by mentioning you'd been to a bisexual event, really like the way a film handled the bisexuality of a character, or comment that a celebrity coming out as bi struck a nerve?

Jason - "When I went to my first BiCon I took the whole week off of work and I'd spent the first half visiting my parents. My Mum was asking why I couldn't stay both weekends - so I said I was off to BiCon. She asked what BiCon was, and when I explained it was a conference for bisexuals she asked why on earth I wanted to go. So I told her - I'm bisexual. At that point the guard blew the whistle, so I closed the carriage-door window and the train pulled away. Timing is everything!"

Be prepared for awkward, or strange questions. Be ready to calmly answer these with simple short answers. Put yourself in their shoes - they may be surprised at first and not seem as supportive as they really are, just due to the shock. If they are confused as to the differences between lesbian, gay and bi, then you might get questions you weren't expecting, such as "but don't you want to get married one day?" but do take these questions seriously - they're undoubtedly heartfelt.

Remember to keep reassuring them that you're certain, that this isn't a change that you've suddenly decided to make to your life just now. You're still the same person they knew all along, just one that's being more open with them about a part of your life. When you come out to someone, you are saying to them "I trust you, so I'm going to be more honest with you. This is me."

Jacqui - "I have to come out a couple times a month. A lot of people seems to think that people who look like me can't be Queer in any way. A lot of people seem to think that I'll laugh along with their homo/bi/trans phobic jokes, or worse still, collaborate with the poor treatment aimed at queer folk."

Incidentally, you don't have to come out to everyone. Many bisexuals don't tell all of their relatives, or their co-workers. Who you come out to is up to you, and really you don't have to come out at all, except perhaps to yourself. If you're thinking about coming out to someone you're financially dependant on, like a boss or parent, and you think they might be homophobic or biphobic then please think carefully about how to do it, and whether you need to.

B - "I was outed at the Catholic school where I taught RE without anyone telling me. That pissed me off. I was told that I went on about my sexuality too much after I mentioned my wife/homophobia a couple of times, so now I use the third person plural to talk about wife at school & college. I asked one of my class teachers if she'd figured my partner was a wife, and she said she did. Others might know as well, but I don't relish the idea of being discussed so I'm keeping quiet from my end."

Some people will always take longer to come round to the news, but with these patience and consistency will usually win out. If you want to work up the courage to tell someone you think will find this difficult to hear, try some easier coming out conversations first - friends who you know will be sympathetic, or people you know are also bisexual.

Is it different coming out as bisexual? You may find that people had previously assumed you were gay or lesbian, based on the clues they'd picked up - so be prepared to explain the difference! In fact some people come out twice, first as lesbian or gay and then later as bisexual - being clear about what you now feel can ease other people's concerns.

Of course, if you are casual and matter of fact about your sexuality and you don't make it seem like a big deal, then it's quite likely that you won't need to come out to some people. They'll hear it through the grapevine. Being out and happy about your sexuality will reassure people, and many may never feel the need to bring it up with you. Maybe you'll be the person that others come out to!

Anon - "At university I've found a group of girls that I really like - most of them are around my age but one is 18. While the others were at the bar she came out as bisexual to me. She'd had really bad reactions at school and was really worried about coming out, in fact she kept apologising after she'd told me despite the fact that she knew I was also bi. I feel really happy that she felt comfortable enough to tell me."

Ultimately the only person who can decide if it's right for you to come out is you. It's your call, your information and your life, so you decide when to come out, or if to come out.

But don't just take our advice, there's a wealth of info about coming out as LGBT on the internet. We especially recommend the RH Reality Check or the Both Directions booklet from BCN.

Good luck!

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