love

The Closet

It’s time to clear up something. I’m not straight.

I get why you might think I’m straight. I’m in a hetero-normative relationship, I’m a cis woman, my husband is a cis man and this October, we will have been married for three years. You may have been my friend for the last six or seven years and never known a time when I haven’t been with my husband. It’s cool, I get it. It’s not like I go around waving a P-Flag.

Okay, well, SOMETIMES I do. My husband and I spent our first anniversary marching in Washington DC for equal rights for everyone, but you might have thought we were just supporters. That’s cool. But it’s not tattooed on my forehead or anything. So I want to say that I get it. I understand why you might think I’m straight and really, it’s my fault for not letting you know, for allowing you to assume based on available evidence.

But I’m not straight. I like the term queer but I’m happy with bisexual as well. I’ve been called a freak and as long as you mean it in a positive and not pejorative way, it’s fine with me.

The thing is, it is very easy to blend into hetero-normative culture, very easy to disappear. Even friends who known me for a very long time refer to the relationship before my husband as the last man I had a relationship with, even though I had a girlfriend between my husband and the last man I dated. It’s as if, to them, that woman didn’t count. As if we never existed, as if that weren’t real.

But it was real. All of the women I was with were real and my history doesn’t disappear because of my current status. What I am doesn’t change. But it’s my responsibility to let you know, because if you look at me, you’re going to assume based on what you see now, which is reasonable.Which is why I have to come out of the closet. Again. And Again. And why I’ll have to come out for the rest of my life. Because it’s not obvious, but it’s important that you know.

Some people might argue that I’m with my husband now, and that since we’re monogamous, why even bother coming out of the closet? What’s the point, if I’m not dating right now? The point is that politicians like to claim people like me and my husband, married people, as supporters against equal rights. They like to claim that because we are married we want to deny that right to other people. They like to think that because we appear to be heterosexual, we are on their side.But the truth is, we aren’t heterosexual, and even if we were, we would still be on the side of equality. Getting married did not change our viewpoint or our orientation.

When my husband and I took vows to each other, we did not swear away our sexuality. We did not become magically straight in front of our family and friends.

I lost friends when I came out the first time. One woman told me that she couldn’t talk to me anymore, because she was afraid I’d hit on her and take advantage of her. At that point, we had been friends for four years.  Another friend I lost when I got engaged to my husband. He called my engagement a “bisexual-beard-of-a-wedding” because he couldn’t understand how we could be attracted to men and women.

But for every friendship lost, there were deeper, more honest friendships to be gained. Coming out allowed me to cultivate a group of friends who cared for me as I am, not as they wanted me to be. Friends who accepted me as I am, and lovers who wanted all of me, who understood me. But I’ve gotten complacent. It’s easy to become complacent, to allow people to believe the easy, more acceptable thing. But it’s not true, and it’s not honest. In the end, it leads to the kind of friends that would turn on you if they knew who you really were, and that’s not friendship at all.

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