This month, Skittles goes black and white, McDonalds tastes the rainbow, and the signature flag adds two new colors all in celebration of Pride. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t until two years ago), June is the month we celebrate the LGBTQ community because it’s the anniversary of when the Stonewall riots took place back in 1969.
Ashamedly, I never took much time to comprehend the magnitude and importance of Pride Month for the community until I was suddenly part of it. So in celebration this year, I wanted to share some personal things about my identity and experience since becoming part of the “B” in LGBTQ.
- No, I didn’t always “know I was gay”. To be completely blunt, I realize I wasn’t straight once I fell in love with a person who doesn’t have a penis. She’s the most remarkable human being I’ve ever met, so why would I pass that up?
- I’ve never loved labels, but I choose to identify as bisexual because I realized my capacity to love wasn’t limited by body parts. I shied away from labeling myself until I understood the importance of being proud of standing under the LGBTQ umbrella.
- I grew up Christian, but have always struggled with the faith’s tendency to follow self interpreted rules and regulations for what’s right or wrong.
- Since I came out, I’ve slowly embarked on a deeper exploration into every aspect of who I am, both spiritually and sexually. To be honest, right now I don’t know what my religion is, but here are the things I do know: I believe in love. I believe in tolerance. I believe that there is more than what exists right now in this life on this earth. I believe animals have beautiful souls. I believe nature heals. I believe in a god that doesn’t have requirements, only the capacity of goodness, creation, and empathy. I believe Jesus taught people how to love more deeply and openly.
- To all of my female friends I’ve seen naked, kissed, lived with, or all of the above, the answer is no. No, just because I am bisexual doesn’t mean I was attracted to you all of those years.
- I’ve never been dishonest to anyone about my sexuality. Who I know myself as at every point in my life is exactly who I have presented myself to be.
- Those of you who have loved ones who have always known they were gay or transgender were not being dishonest to you before they came out either. It’s called “coming out” for a reason. The process is complicated and difficult and requires and comfort level with oneself and one’s body that can take years to reach.
- It’s 2017, and in many ways our society has come along way. However, don’t assume that because you or so many around you are tolerance that other aren’t still hateful to the LGBTQ community. It’s 2017, and I get looks from bystanders when I hold my wife’s hand in public spaces. But guess what? It only makes me hold onto her harder.
- If you’re an ally, speak up. Don’t presume that your loved ones assume that you’re proud of them, or love them for who they are if you haven’t told them since they came out. I have made those assumptions and discovered later that I was wrong, and that’s way more devastating than finding out up front. So I no longer make those assumptions. If you’re not outspoken in your support of the LGBTQ community, of my relationship, of my marriage, then I’m forced to wonder. It hurts to badly to assume you’re on my side and then be blindsided to realize you’re not.
- The importance of having close relationships with other members of the LGBTQ community cannot be overstated. Neither can the importance of having LGBTQ representation in music, movies, and television. As a bisexual, I now feel lost when I turn on the television and see storylines I can no longer relate to. Sure, I’ve dated men, but I’m married to a woman. I want to see women who are like me. I never realized how annoying it would become to cross out the word “groom” and write the word “bride” for my partner’s name every time I filled out paperwork for my wedding. If you’re frustrated by seeing things change to become “PC” and inclusive, chances are you’re not nearly as frustrated as those who never feel included.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you’re wondering if I’ve changed, or skeptical about whether or not you ever really knew me, the response is both yes and no. I have changed, but only in the ways that have made me a better, more loving, open human being. Now I flinch when someone asks a woman they don’t know who her husband is after she says she’s married. What if she’s married to another woman?
So if becoming more conscious of the conclusions I jump to when speaking to or about others means I’ve changed, then I’m proud of those changes. I didn’t just start listening obsessively to Tegan and Sara and binge watching The L Word because that’s what all the lesbians do. I listen to them the lyrics and the stories resonate, and isn’t that why they’re made?
The self recognition of being bisexual has made me a better person, not a different one, and that’s why I all of a sudden plaster my Facebook page with rainbows. I’m proud to me. So whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian bisexual, queer, questioning, transgender, gender fluid, asexual, or anything else along the spectrum, be proud of it. Celebrate it. Celebrate yourself and celebrate those you love who are unafraid to be who they are. Be an ally. Celebrate Pride.