Bi of the Month: Elissa Ortiz

Oct 1, 2009 | 2009 Fall - Visibility, Articles, Bi Woman of the Month

Interview by Dina Perrone

Dina: Elissa, I have known you for about six years now. But, we really became close when you lived in NYC a few years ago. What I find most amazing about you is your willingness to follow your heart. Can you please discuss how following your heart led you to NYC and then back to Arizona?

Elissa: I moved to New York for a clean break. I needed time to myself and I had a friend there, so it was a perfect opportunity at the perfect time. New York was a place I had never been to but always wanted to experience, so I moved to the East Coast. I had lived in Arizona my whole life, and I knew that New York would be a great place to go to experience something different. Living back East was both an exciting and different experience for me. When I was there I was rebuilding my self-esteem along with new experiences and new friends. Unfortunately, I was not yet done with my schooling and I knew staying there would only delay the process. I knew it was better to just get it done with instead of delaying it. Along with school there were of course family, friends and loved ones that I missed dearly. It only seemed natural to me to return to Arizona. It felt like everyone had their lives in place and I didn’t, not there anyways. In Arizona, I felt more at home.

Dina: I know that being bisexual is not always easy. I am often conflicted, confused, and even scared about coming out. Are you “out” at work or school? How has that affected you?

Elissa: I do not go around and flaunt it, but yes, I am honest with my friends and family. Family is harder to deal with because they just kind of brush it off and don’t want to know about it or even deal with it. I think the East Coast is much more out and about than the West Coast. When I lived back East it was so much easier to walk around with a girlfriend or even have a PDA. Being “out” here is much harder and people watch every move you make—I think they really have nothing better to do. People out here are very conservative compared to all the liberals on the East Coast (whom I love and miss). Although I have been completely honest with my family and have been open with them about my relationship with a woman for the past four years, they still seem to just “ignore” it. When I am around my friends it isn’t even an issue. We don’t think about it or bring it up. It is what it is and it is fine, perfectly normal. Around family is harder because I think it is harder for them to accept than it is for my friends. Honestly, the friends I have are like my family so that part is easier since I am so close to them.

Dina: You have made incredible achievements as a single mom—working full-time, going to school and buying a home. How have you included dating in this already busy schedule?

Elissa: Dating?? Ha ha! Dating with a new baby is almost impossible, babysitters are too expensive and honestly I am too tired. I had a girlfriend until just recently and we decided to go our separate ways. So, at the moment, no, I am not dating.

Dina: As a single mom of a beautiful and sweet daughter, do you think being bisexual has affected the ways you parent or who is in her life? Do you mind explaining how?

Elissa: I do not think it has affected the way I parent. Parenting to me is about raising a child with manners, morals and love, and being bisexual wouldn’t and shouldn’t affect that. As for the people in my life, I don’t think you can have enough people in your life who love you. As long as they love me and they love my daughter, I have no limits. I believe that my decisions will only broaden my daughter’s views in life and make her realize that it isn’t important if a man loves you or a woman loves you—as long as they love you.

Dina: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers of Bi Women?

Elissa: Just do what makes you happy! That is what I did, and what I am doing. Just remember there is no way you can make everyone happy, so instead just do what makes you happy—it is your life, not theirs!

Elissa and her daughter Charli live in Gilbert, Arizona.

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