An avid BWQ reader herself, A. Rose Bi proudly identifies as a bisexual woman. She currently lives in New England with her lazy spirit animal, a Siberian cat named after CJ Cregg.
In addition to being an out bi woman, A. has a degree in Cognitive Science, has completed trainings for LGBTQ+ and sexual assault survivor advocacy, and has experience answering calls for an anonymous LGBTQ+ help line. She is passionate about feminism, the bi+ community, LGBTQ+ and female representation in the media, and helping others.
A. Rose Bi’s column relies on questions from readers like you! You can send any questions you might have or suspect other readers may have to the author directly at email@example.com or by posting on the Bi Women’s Quarterly facebook group. All questions are anonymous, nothing is off-limits, and anything related to upcoming issue topics is extra-encouraged!
Dear A. Rose Bi,
I’m a bi woman and I’m dating someone who presents as a man, but identifies as non-binary. When we spend time with my family, for convenience’s sake, we act and present as a cis/het couple, but that’s not who we are. I love my family and I think they’ll be supportive, but I can’t be sure. How do I decide when to tell them? Do I even need to tell them?
Tired of Passing
Dear Tired of Passing,
I think this is something that so many people in the bi+ (and nonbinary) community can relate to on some level. When we date other-gendered partners, people assume we’re straight and when we date same-gendered partners, people assume we’re lesbians. *Shakes fist at the heavens*
Whether to come out to your family about your own identity as a bi woman is a decision only you can make. However, when you add disclosing your partner’s gender identity as well, it becomes a decision for the two of you. Since we’re talking about your family, as long as your partner is okay with it, it is ultimately your decision to let the cat out of the bag.
Given all that, I think the questions you want to ask yourself for more clarity are:
“Is it important to me for my family to know this part of who I am?”
“Do I feel like I am hiding something from my family? If so, does it bother me?”
“Is it possible to come out to some family members and not others?”
Armed with that info, I think you’ll feel surer about your decision. What I want you to remember through all of this is that as straight-passing queer women, we often feel pressure to come out, especially when we feel like we have a seemingly “better situation” than others (for example, you think your family will be supportive). Don’t put that pressure on yourself. If you want to come out, you should completely, one hundred percent do that. But do it for you, and in this case, your partner as well. Coming out should be about you feeling more free and more yourself in front of the people in your life and if that’s the case here, great! If not, don’t push yourself too hard just because you feel like you should.
If you decide to come out, I know you’re concerned about when. It’s hard to say without knowing your family but you have a few options. You could announce it at dinner to everyone all at once (rip the Band-Aid off); you could get your closest family members together and sit down with them to tell them; you could drop hints throughout interactions with them to see if they pick up on it, or to ease the “shock” later down the road; or you could even text or email them with whatever you’re looking to tell them. And all of these can be done by you or by you and your partner, depending on whether their inclusion is helpful or stressful.
There are a lot of options for you right now, but I don’t want that to be stress-inducing for you. Read through this edition of BWQ and see if any of the submissions ring true for you in some way, then cherry pick what works for you. Overall, I’d recommend going with your gut. You know your partner, family, and yourself better than anyone else.
A. Rose Bi