Growing up, I didn’t feel like a minority, or at least not for being Black. I grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens, and most, if not all, of my classmates were Black/Latinx. While I didn’t necessarily experience racial tensions daily, I did feel a lot of tension around me as a feminine, Black boy.
As a kid, I’d head on over to friends’ houses, and their parents would look at me a certain way, or not want their son or daughter to associate with me. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I was always polite and said, “Good morning.”
I was constantly asked why I talked like a girl by other kids, which led me to hate my voice for the longest time. I can also remember being called the F-word from as early as five years old, and that lasted through high school.
I learned early on I had to be independent. Even when there were big problems I couldn’t handle on my own, I had to figure it out. The few times I did reach out to family in order to be defended or advocated for, it seldom came. So from an early age, I knew I was different and couldn’t rely on anyone other than myself.
I always had an attraction to boys and girls. So I never really had a big “aha” moment or revelation that I can remember. I first called myself bisexual to one of my best friends when I was ten. Still, I didn’t really have a traditional “coming out” moment because most people had just assumed I was gay. As I got older, I started hanging out with gay men, and in those spaces, I was able to simply blend in. For the most part, I was fine with that.
But then there would be moments where I felt extremely uncomfortable, like when bisexual jokes started up, and people would speak about bi men in a derogatory way. They’d say shit like all bi men are secretly gay and cheaters, and they reveled in the challenge of trying to take a bisexual man away from the woman he was with. A part of learning to honor myself was to stand up and say, “That’s not cool. You know, I’m actually bi.”
In a way, that was me coming out. But it was less about letting people know about my potential to be attracted to two or more genders and more about standing up for the bi community. It’s like, stop dumping your frustrations and insecurities on us.
So many people think of bi men as being this mysterious figure. They think of us as being very masculine and deceptive and are upset when we show up as that or as anything else. We’re complex human beings. I hoped by saying, Hey, I’m actually this thing, it would help people in my life not automatically associate negative stereotypes with bi men.
This all plays into why I created the hashtag #BisexualMenSpeak on Twitter in 2018, which encourages bi men and masc-identified people to share their own experiences with being bi. The hashtag shows how diverse a community we are. But I could only start the hashtag after beginning the internal work of unlearning biphobia. At that point, I had a clearer sense of who I am and what’s important to me.
In the past two years, I have and continue to use #BisexualMenSpeak to have complicated discussions that go beyond “Bisexuality 101.” We talk on everything from friends and family members’ conditional acceptance depending on the gender of your current partner, bisexual men’s investment in misogyny, and how racism shapes the biphobic Black bisexual experience for men.
This virtual space also became a place where we could feel seen, heard, and respected. I didn’t feel like there were many digital spaces like this, so I felt compelled to create one myself. I’ve actually written down some of the reflections I’ve done with #BisexualMenSpeak and have turned it into a manuscript. I’m shopping around for a literary agent right now. (So agents, hit me up!)
Of course, this week is Bisexual Awareness Week, and there is one final thing I want to touch on. Right now, there’s a push for everyone in the LGBTQ community to come out, especially bisexual men, since often, we aren’t completely out about our identity. If you feel it’s safe and you want to, you should. If you think it’ll make your life better, then do it. But I don’t believe that bisexual men, and Black bisexual men, in particular, have to disclose our bisexuality.
People don’t seem to realize that disclosing is incredibly personal, and the world doesn’t make it safe for us to be bisexual. There is so much stigma for bi men, especially for Black bi men, due to racism. We can experience violence, discrimination, and harassment after coming out. So when I hear people who aren’t bisexual demanding that bi men come out, I don’t think it’s right, especially when neither the people demanding you to come out nor the world at large are equipped to be supportive and are relentlessly antagonistic towards your bisexuality.
So you do you. The important thing is that you feel comfortable with being bisexual and that you’ve done the work to unlearn all the biphobic falsehoods society has taught us to believe about ourselves. If coming out helps you with that, then do it, but if not, you don’t owe anybody anything.
And just remember, being bisexual doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you, and it doesn’t mean you’ll never be happy. Being bisexual is all about possibility, and it takes a certain bravery to be open to the endless possibilities of life and love.
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