A few months ago I came out publicly about being bisexual during a podcast. The podcast caught many of my closest friends by surprise… yet it was something that was a part of who I was since childhood.
I was around 24 when I first experimented with a man. I was so reluctant to engage in such actions.
I can remember how nervous I was to this day. I thought for sure if I fooled around with a man it would mean I was gay, and that scared the shit out of me.
I grew up in a Catholic Eastern European household. Being gay is something that would have posed problems for our family.
I remember the time my sister invited her gay friend to her wedding and my dad refused to have him there. How would he feel about the possibility of his own son being gay?
For this and other social stigmas, I always felt it was best if my interactions with men were kept private. There was no upside to letting anyone know.
I hid the fact that I was bisexual until the shame and secrecy were too much. The anxiety and depression leading a double life became unbearable.
Since coming forward, I’ve come to a lot of realizations and have had many conversations about this with my family, close friends, and even distant friends who have reached out to praise my courage.
I’ve come to understand that living in shame of my sexuality, was no way to live.
I hope this post may shine some light on this issue for other bisexual men, and for anyone else living with guilt or shame, regardless what you are struggling with.
1 – Admitting it didn’t make me less of a man
Social norms condition us to believe that a man is someone who marries a woman, has children and provides for his family.
When you grow up believing a man is only supposed to have a relationship with a woman, it can make you question your masculinity when you realize your desires are different.
I started asking myself what was wrong with me? Why do I have these feelings? A man isn’t supposed to be attracted to another man, so why am I?
These thoughts were highly destructive. Anytime I explored or hooked up with a man, I would feel an intense sense of shame afterwards.
Coming forward seemed like an admittance of guilt. Admitting that there was something wrong with me. Admitting that I was less of man.
It took me a long time to learn that who I shared my bed with didn’t make me any more or less of a man. Who anyone shares their bed with doesn’t make them more or less of anything.
2 – Giving up on how others “perceived” my personal image
Coming forward meant that I would have to trust others with my deepest darkest secret, but I had no idea how they would react. This scared the shit out of me.
I’ve always tried hard to control and influence how people thought of me. I was a textbook people pleaser. Ask anyone who knows me, I come across as a kind, laid back, easy going guy.
This image was created because I wanted to maximize the amount of people that liked me. So I created an image that was easily likable and didn’t ruffle any feathers.
Telling everyone I was bisexual petrified me because I had spent my whole life creating a perfect cookie cutter image of a likable guy and now I was giving everyone ammunition to turn their back on me. I was terrified.
The only way I was able to muster up the courage to come forward was to stop giving a fuck.
I had come to a place in my life where I accepted who I was sexually. Now friends and acquaintances had a choice, to accept me as I was, or turn their backs and walk away.
3 – Trusting that my family would support me
I was born in Eastern Europe. In a country where not that long ago, heterosexuals would go to the pride parades and beat up the gays.
My father had firm traditional beliefs that a family consisted of a man and a woman. He would preach again and again how a heterosexual family structure is the backbone of society and the key to raising healthy children.
Whenever I would talk to my aunts or uncles back in Poland, they would ask me if I had a girlfriend yet. Whenever I would talk to my grandma, she’d ask, “When are you getting married so that I can come to your wedding?” She’d always follow that up with, “You know, I’m not going to live forever.”
How do you tell your 82-year-old grandma that you’re wrestling with your sexual identity and don’t know if you’re going to marry a man or woman? She would have been devastated.
Getting past this was not easy. Talking with my mom, sister and dad required a lot of courage and trust. Trust in unconditional love. Trusting they would be there for me when I opened up.
4 – Recognizing there was an upside in coming forward
In my mind, I had divided the reaction of people into three groups: family, friends, and girls I was dating. I didn’t see much upside in telling people.
I figured my female friends would be okay with it as it wouldn’t impact them directly, but I was confident that my guy friends would not respond positively to it.
I grew up playing sports, and most of the male friends in my life are jocks. It’s been my experience that jocks are not known for being open and receptive to the LGBT community. Living in secrecy and silence was easier than jeopardizing my friendships.
When it came to telling the girls I was dating I was petrified. In my head, I thought there is no way any girl would find this aspect of me attractive. I didn’t want to risk those relationships either.
In the world we live in, a girl being bisexual is way more socially acceptable than a guy being bisexual. Think about two girls making out at a bar versus two guys making out. What kind of response would each scenario illicit?
Since coming forward, I’ve had the exact opposite experience. I’ve started dating girls who value how open, honest and comfortable I am with my sexuality. They’ve praised my courage and have shared how they find me even more attractive now.
Coming forward through challenging conversations with friends and family has provided me with a greater level of depth in my relationships. Resulting in more trust, love and authenticity between us.
5 – Accepting that I was bisexual
I hated this side of me. I kept this part of me a secret because I thought if I told my family and friends that they wouldn’t care or love me anymore. This may seem harsh, but it was true.
When you neglect a part of your psyche, you deprive yourself of unconditional love. You accept parts of yourself but not your whole self. This created immense pain.
For me, these pains surfaced as depression and anxiety. The deeper I got into living my double life, the greater my depression and anxiety swings were. They became crippling to the point where I started using drugs, alcohol or sex to escape from my reality.
This pain existed because I didn’t want to accept this part of me. I felt if I swept it under the rug enough times it would go away but it never did. It only kept coming back.
When we push parts of ourselves aside that we dislike or trying to avoid, we neglect ourselves the love and space to heal.
6 – There is no shame in being you
Coming out has been an intensely beautiful experience for me. Not a single friend has turned their back. Instead, people have admired my bravery. I received tons of messages and phone calls with support, acceptance, and love.
Opening up to the world with my pain was not easy. It required having a lot of difficult conversations with family and close friends, but it was necessary to start the healing process.
The most important thing I have learned from this whole experience is that there is no shame in being you. Mark Twain once said,
“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
For so long, I made up so many stories about what my relationships with men meant, how friends or family would view me “if they knew.”
In the end, they were just that, stories. Stories that lived inside my head. Stories that had no basis in reality, but that deeply impacted my life for many years.
It took me a long time to have enough strength and confidence in myself to share this message. It took a long time for me to view my bisexuality as a blessing.
So regardless of where you stand with yourself emotionally or physically, remember there is no shame in being you.
The moment you stop apologizing for being confused, crazy, weird, or anything of that nature and embrace you for being f*cking awesome. It’s the moment when everyone else will embrace you just the way you are.
Here to support,