After Orlando, I Came Out As Bisexual To My Conservative Father

June is Pride Month, and all over the world people are celebrating what it means to be LGBTQIA and commemorating the impact that community of individuals has had on the history of the world. As this month comes to an end, I am celebrating my first major milestone as a member of this community: I finally came out to my parents as bisexual.

Since I embarked on the journey of coming to terms with my sexuality, I would always consider coming out to my parents, but I continually avoided the subject. As a straight-presenting bisexual woman, I told myself I would only tell them about my identity if I had to, i.e. if I ever ended up in a committed relationship with another woman. I would ask myself silly questions that I wouldn’t even be considering if I was a straight person, like, “How do I know if I’m bi if I’ve never been in a relationship with a woman,” or “What if this is just a phase?” I felt like since I was discovering my sexuality so “late in the game” that maybe it was just a fabrication of my imagination. By giving in to this warped mindset, I was perpetuating the all-too-common practice of bi erasure, and I was delegitimizing my own identity.

Society notoriously questions bisexual people because we don’t fit into one cookie cutter category. We’re too straight to be gay, too gay to be straight, and as a result people tend to push us back into the closet with their disbelief or indifference. As I result, I questioned my own sense of belonging in the LGBTQIA community, even though I endlessly assured my other bi friends that their membership card was 100-percent legitimate. The support and empowering words of my bi brothers and sisters helped ease my feelings of doubt and propel me through my journey, but it wasn’t until the horrific events in Orlando that I really thought critically about my position as a member of the LGBTQIA community.

While working through my feelings about the tragedy, I read a menagerie of different articles written by my LGBTQIA brothers and sisters. One piece that truly hit home discussed the complexities of being bisexual during this time of fear, uncertainty, and devastation. Her words were just what I needed to read, and they gave meaning to the conflict that I was feeling. I felt moved to write about my experiences and live my life in celebration of my identity, and I knew it was finally time to come out to my parents.

I knew my parents would always love me no matter what, and I was confident that they would be accepting of my identity, but that knowledge didn’t make the declaration any easier. There is always an element of fear when you reach that degree of vulnerability with someone, and this felt especially poignant with the two people that raised me. My dad is an extremely spiritual and political man, and being privy to how those things affected his position on issues related to LGBTQIA rights was intimidating to say the least. More than anything, though, I knew if I continued to hide in the closet there would be a large part of me that would remain a mystery to those who love me the most.

Last night we went out to dinner, and the subject of Pride came up. My parents knew that I would be attending Pride events in the Twin Cities all weekend, and they stressed that it was great I was “supporting my friends.” I saw my window—I knew it was time for them to know that I was going there to support and celebrate myself, too.

No amount of gumption or preparation could have armed me for what it would be like to sit across from my conservative father as he told me with tears in his eyes how much he loved me and supported me no matter what. How he would be there on my wedding day no matter if I was walking down the aisle to greet a man or a woman. How he wouldn’t be the man he is today without the mentorship of his openly gay former pastor. How he just wanted me to be comfortable with who I was, and that I would always be his “little bird.” Tears rolled down my face as my mom told me how lucky I am to have the “best dad in the world, for real.” And she’s right; I do.

I now feel like I can be and am truly, entirely myself in front of my parents. I feel like they now have a more complete and full understanding of who I am. I feel like a weight has floated off of my shoulders, and I can embrace the unadulterated me more than ever. I am prouder than ever to be the big-hearted, supremely stubborn, book-loving, caregiving, queer woman that I am. I encourage all of my LGBTQIA brothers and sisters to feel and harness that same amount of pride. For some, that may mean coming out to those that are important to them. For others, that may be doing something as simple as holding their partner’s hand in public. For many, that may even mean not coming out at all. The most important thing is to celebrate, love, and empower yourself and those around you to live the best, most vivacious lives they can. 

This weekend, I get to participate in my first Pride festivities as an openly bisexual woman with my community of supportive and loving friends. I hope that in these last few days of Pride and beyond you find yourselves surrounded with that same degree of love, acceptance, and community, too.

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