June is Pride Month.
The sound of a heart breaking is a deafening silence. When you’re in the presence of someone experiencing pure emotional anguish, you can feel their pain. It radiates, filling every corner of space with a quiet so intense, so impermeable, that you hold your breath. You fear that the sound of your exhale will pierce through, and overwhelm the sufferer, swallowing them whole.
Coming out to my husband was that moment for me. We’d gotten in a fight. I was wrong. He was justified. “So, what?” he ’d thundered. “Do you like girls?!”
My response hung in the air with the damaging potential of a guillotine, waiting to sever what little love it seemed we had left. It was a very painful moment in our relationship. The admission came around the seven-year mark and placed us squarely at rock bottom. Everything we’d built up until that point came crashing down, and I was left in the emotional rubble, his heart in one hand and my newly uncovered sexuality in the other.
Saying that out loud was very difficult for me for a very long time. Realizing that I am attracted to both men and women was a hard path to travel, especially as someone in a long-term relationship.
However, coming out to my husband (then-boyfriend) as bisexual made me realize that who you are in a relationship is only one part of the very complex matter of sexual identity.
Being an LGBTQ individual is not about how well you are able to hide, although it may seem that way when you start sorting through all the emotions you’re experiencing. For me, I had to learn to give up the facade. I grew up in a Southern Baptist household, the child of immigrants. I was taught that being gay was not only a sin, but a familial shame. My parents gossiped loudly, tutt-tutting over friends whose children had “embarrassed” them by bringing home same-sex partners. My fear of disappointing my parents was suffocating.
In a lot of ways, it was the pressure of keeping up the charade that caused it to fall apart. I struggled to be the person I thought I was supposed to be. When I was 21 years old, I spiraled, and I had to come clean.
Coming out is terrifying. It’s not accepting your sexuality that is difficult, at least not for me. It’s the honesty that’s hard. It’s looking someone you love in the eye and saying, “I’m different and I hope that doesn’t change how you feel about me.”
Honesty, by nature, makes you vulnerable, and there is no greater vulnerability than being a minority who identifies as LGBTQ in a society dominated by straight white men. It’s fucking scary to admit that who you are could not be farther from who society wants you to be.
When we first met, my husband said to me. “Always be honest. I can be hurt by what you said, and some things might change, but at the end of the day, I will always respect you for telling me the truth, no matter how I feel about it.”
Setting that precedent early on gave me the courage to come out, even though it was ill-timed. I had to be fully aware that my admission might come with consequences. We weren’t married at the time; I was positive he would leave. I thank God every day that he did not.
Being bisexual in a heteronormative relationship has its ups and downs, but in the end, we’ve survived. Ironically, he didn’t take issue with my sexuality. I was afraid that he would leave me because I was “gay.” His biggest issue was the fact that I had lied to him for years about who I truly was. I didn’t trust him, or the strength of our relationship enough to tell him that I was bisexual.
If I had been honest from the beginning, he would have loved me anyway because being a bisexual woman of color is part of who I am.
It took the complete dismantling of our relationship for me to realize that. The thing about hitting rock bottom, though, is that there is no greater place to start building a new foundation. Taking so long to come out to my husband put us in a dark place. If I’m being completely honest, I wouldn’t recommend anyone get into any relationship without being fully transparent with themselves and their partner about their sexuality from the beginning. My situation was and is unique, but by hiding my identity, I hurt people in my coming out process. I wish I’d taken a different route, even though it was okay in the end.
My advice to others is to stop hiding and start embracing your identity, especially during Pride Month. Facing your fears sometimes means facing yourself and your loved ones by speaking your truth. Being honest is the biggest step on the road to self-discovery, but remember it is your discovery to make. Not everyone is like my husband — some people would have ended the relationship right then and there. Others would have tried to exploit my bisexuality for their own fantasies. In my marriage, I’m blessed enough to have never experienced either of those things.
There have definitely been perks though. We’re closer than ever. I’m more honest with him, sometimes maybe a little too honest. We talk about sex. A lot. And candidly. We compare our celebrity “hall pass” lists, and laugh at the fact that there’s a little bit of overlap. Now that I’m not in the closet, I’m free to truly be myself. Coming out to my husband liberated me. He accepted me when I was at my most vulnerable, which taught me to love and accept myself, a gift I can never repay him for.
LGBTQ Pride is a lot of things, but mostly, it’s the affirmation that you have the right to be proud of yourself, no matter what. I’m a bisexual woman, married to a heterosexual man. That is my truth and I’m proud of it.