I have known for a few years that I’m bisexual but have only recently begun to tell a few people. I’ve been contemplating telling my big sister in my sorority, but the other day, I heard her tell my other sisters that she thought that there was no such thing as being bisexual. She said she thinks that bisexuals are really just gay and closeted, and most of my other sisters agreed. It ticked me off, but I didn’t say anything.
How can I explain bisexuality to my “big”? Her opinion is one that I hold highly and I want to be able to share this with her. This also brings up the issue of coming out in general because I attend a Catholic college and there are some strong opinions about sexuality here.
Ideally, the first set of people you come out to serve as a support network so that if you experience some backlash along the way, they’ll provide you a soft place to fall. Unfortunately, you got a sign that you can’t trust your big in that capacity just yet. I’d say that for now, you should take her off of the list of people you’re coming out to. It’s disappointing, but don’t worry—you can put her back on the list when the time is right.
Take heart in the fact that if and when you do come out to her, just being friends with you might be enough to change her perspective on bisexuals. Knowing someone personally is the most effective catalyst to explode stereotypes.
You could try educating your big on bisexuality without coming out to her, but that’s going to be messy. You’d have to find a way to bring it up in conversation naturally, and if she asks you point-blank whether you’re bi, you might choose to lie. It’s an option but you risk feeling bad about the dishonesty. Better to table the bi enlightenment sessions for the moment.
As you build your support network, it makes sense to start with other queers (or, even better, other bisexuals) because they will obviously support you and can empathize. When you decide to be generally “out,” you might find such compatriots within your college’s LGBT student organization. If you don’t have one because the campus is too hostile, contact Dignity—a national organization for LGBT Catholics—at www.dignityusa.org and see if they can suggest queer support groups that work with or near your college community.
Are you a bi lady in need of some good advice? Write to Tiggy Upland at email@example.com. This advice column is for entertainment purposes only. The columnist reserves the right to edit the letters for any reason. Find more Ask Tiggy on www.biresource.net.