Liz (she/her) identifies as biromantic and demisexual. In today’s Coming Out post, she shares how internalizing the cultural narrative that coming out is dependent upon dating someone delayed sharing her identities with others and shares the extremely relatable coming out strategy of “did you see what I posted about on Twitter?”
Identifying as Biromantic and Demisexual
Currently, I identify as a woman who is biromantic and demisexual. Depending on who I’m talking to, I tend to describe myself as either ‘bi’ or ‘queer’, because it is less of a mouthful and because I don’t generally feel like explaining the ace spectrum to casual acquaintances.
I’ve always felt pretty solid in my gender identity. I’ve reflected on it a lot more in the last decade or so when a close friend came out as non-binary and my circle of acquaintances on the Internet and beyond reflected a wider spectrum of trans and nonbinary identities, but at the end of the day, I’m comfortable saying I’m cis.
The bi part of my identity has been more or less a constant since I was like thirteen and I just kind of looked around and was like “oh, girls are pretty”.
Labeling myself as demisexual has been a new development! When I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of crushes and I always assumed it would just start happening eventually. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become clear that if I do experience sexual attraction, it’s definitely only if I know someone fairly well! It also doesn’t happen very often, and at the end of the day…I don’t really mind! Being in a relationship isn’t something that drives me, I’m not actively looking to date and I think in the future, there’s definitely a chance I might move more towards just describing myself as asexual instead of demisexual.
I think there is definitely room for future change. Especially in the last decade, I’ve felt that my knowledge of myself is always deepening and that I’m always undergoing change. Up until recently, I haven’t really identified as someone on the ace spectrum and thinking more about that aspect of myself has made me more and more aware of the ways that trying to find a hard, forever label might not really be feasible for me.
I grew up in a family that was very loving, but very bad at communicating. Since I’m not generally in a relationship, it’s not a topic that comes up a lot. Altogether, I am out to anyone who asks me, I have participated in public Pride events, and I have bisexual flag swag and a lavender graduation diploma prominently displayed. Most of my online presences are under my real name and I definitely yell about LGBTQA things there. I’ve discussed how my queer identity has affected my experiences in both work and school settings. So, at the end of the day, I would say that I am fairly out to anyone who is paying attention or has been around me, but I don’t tend to ‘come out’ to people in conversations.
I never really thought ‘being out’ was being something that would happen to me just the once, so it felt more like I was ready to be out to certain people at certain times. Coming out for me started when I was in middle school and realized I was bi. Then I spent the rest of high school getting more and more stressed about when I was magically going to start dating someone, despite never taking action to ask anyone out. Dating someone was supposed to magically trigger my coming out, because the only way I understood the process of coming out was because you had to explain why you were dating someone who wasn’t of the opposite sex. I hadn’t really considered the concept of asexuality at this point, so I spent a lot of time getting more and more anxious that I hadn’t come out yet and how do I even have that conversation without the useful prop of a romantic relationship?
When I decided on out-of-state college, I made a promise to myself that I would be active and visible in LGBTQA activities and would tell anyone who asked I was queer, because living with the constant background anxiety of “when are you going to check off the coming out box” wasn’t a comfortable place to be. My school had a well-developed student and faculty run LGBTQA center on campus, and it became a way for me to build my queerness into my public identity. I was in parades, I decorated my dorm with a pride flag, and I made it a point that my new college friends knew I was participating in activities and answered their questions when they asked.
For my family, the process was a lot less smooth, because again…I love my family and they love me. We are bad communicators. I think I’ve only actually had a coming out conversation with two of them. I distinctly remember awkwardly coming out to my sister over a breakfast when I was home for a break, but when we talked about it later, she remembers the conversation but not the coming out, which…honestly, I would believe I just mumbled something about it and moved on, so whoops!
I pulled a similar stunt with my mom AFTER college. She was up late because of reactions to chemo drugs, we were watching Raven Symone on the View reruns and my mom was like “oh, so is Raven Symone bi?” and I completely out of nowhere was like “haha no, Raven is a lesbian, I’M bi though”. My only excuse for this delivery is that this is the way that all important information is related within my family, including serious illnesses, births, and deaths.
I’ve still not had a 1:1 conversation with my dad or my brother about my sexuality. That being said, I have actively referred to crushing on women and have the aforementioned Pride swag. Also, my brother has access to my Tumblr and Twitter, and I just tend to assume he has picked up on me occasionally talking about the bisexuality of it all on those platforms.
I really wish that I had untangled the idea between my personal identity and external relationships sooner. I had that incredibly wrong concept that coming out needed to be related to me being with someone and it doesn’t! It really has nothing to do with that. I could have come out at any time and in a lot of ways, I regret not at least coming out to my family when I was still in high school. I am so fiercely jealous every time another good LGBTQA storyline happens on TV or in movies, because it feels like if I had had more references as a kid, I would have saved myself a lot of stress.
Liz’s Advice on Coming Out
I know I just talked about regretting not coming out sooner, but I think it’s also really important to know that coming out is something you can decide to do literally at any point in your life and in whatever way you want. My biggest problem was imagining that coming out had to be like the climax to a movie, with a big soundtrack and be a huge moment and that scared me because I am not the kind of person who likes to be the center of attention like that. I just want people to know that if you are a talking person, then it’s great to talk to people about yourself and your identity, but if you’re not, it’s honestly fine to send a text! Send an email! Send a weird subtweet on Twitter and then talk to your brother about it later like “do you get it, did you see what I did there?” Be yourself in whatever way feels good in the moment, and it’s okay to decide that right now, I feel best if I am out to my friends but not at work. Or on your campus but not at home. You have to make the choices that make you feel better about yourself and not worry about if it’s the right way or time to do it.
If you live in British Columbia and would like support understanding your identity or sharing that identity with others, Tricia McGarrah is a queer-identified Registered Clinical Counsellor who offers online sessions to adults.