There is a pervasive myth that coming out is easier for bisexuals than for other members of the LGBTQ community, but as this bisexual woman knows, that's simply not the case. Coming out can be difficult for anyone, but coming out as bisexual has its own challenges. Bisexuals are often not accepted by either the gay and lesbian or straight communities, are often not taken seriously, are asked ridiculous and sexually probing questions that are not asked of other people, and are often erased from the conversation completely, all of which can leave them feeling more isolated than before they came out. If one of your friends or colleagues comes out to you as bisexual, it's important to support them — part of which includes not asking questions which can be hurtful and isolating.
Coming out at work is particularly difficult because as Emma Brice told Matthew Jenkin in The Guardian, we often have to explain our sexuality twice. "You always need to come out to every person at least twice," said Brice. "They forget or your relationship changes and they express shock and surprise that you're now going out with someone whose gender is different."
I have known I was attracted to women since a relatively young age, but since I was raised in a conservative Catholic community in the Midwest, I largely kept it to myself until I was in my early 30s, when I began admitting I was attracted to both men and women and began a long-term relationship with a woman.
After that relationship ended, I was careful how I spoke about past relationships at work or with new people I met at professional conferences. I simply used terms like "my ex" instead of saying "he" or "she" or ever calling my ex by his or her name. And honestly? This kind of mental pronoun juggling is exhausting. People who knew me from my relationship with my ex-girlfriend were shocked to hear that I was once married to a man and vice versa. "But wait," they'd interject, "I thought you were a lesbian?" or, "But weren't you married to a man?" Then I have to explain bisexuality to them, which for me means I am attracted to people. Physical attraction for me comes after a person has already turned me on intellectually, and that person can be someone of any gender.
If you want to support your bisexual friends and colleagues, here are three things not to say when they come out to you.