Why I Am Out As Bisexual On Social Media But Still Mostly Closeted In Real Life

The hardest part of being a queer person is the journey of self-awareness and understanding what desire or lack of desire means. As my best friend said, “When you are coming out, the first person you come out to— is yourself.”

Coming out is a personal choice, and people of the LGBTQIA community have varied stories to share. Being queer is not easy anywhere in the world, be it the most progressive country or the most orthodox regimes— being a rainbow sheep is hard. 

The hardest part of being a queer person is the journey of self-awareness and understanding what desire or lack of desire means. As my best friend said, “When you are coming out, the first person you come out to— is yourself.”

Eleven years ago, my freshly out of school transparent light bulb of consciousness turned into a rainbow disco ball! After surfing the internet for a couple of months, it dawned on me that when I wanted to befriend women and know men romantically, I behaved the same.

Distinguishing between friendship and crushes is troublesome

A fumbling fool flapping their hands in infatuation, but one I called crush and other friendship. In reality, both were crushes and my perception was shaped by heteronormativity.

Hence, when I understood I am on bi-to-pan spectrum, 18-year-old me marched to my mother and declared, I loved my girl-friends [Girls I had worked hard to be friends with] like girls like their boyfriends.

Till this day, my mom has been unable to wrap her mind around bisexuality, and I am partially to be blamed for explaining it poorly.

She understands queer relationship and terms— lesbians, gays, transgender. She can see things from the binary lenses of a cisgender person when there are solid, non-overlapping categories. 

So how does a mother categorize their child who is not exactly gender conforming and claims to like all people irrespective what’s between their legs?

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My mother chooses to tune it all out. To her my queerness is like a non-essential academic acclamation, another feather in my hat which she loves, but doesn’t know what to do with it.

Expecting acceptance will disappoint you

In my youthful enthusiasm, I had informed of my discovery to my sister, brother-in-law and my extended family. While my sibling and her spouse— don’t care as long as I was happy, my extended family proved to be quite homophobic. 

My cousins from different bloodlines thought— it was a phase, attention grabbing mambo-jumbo, new pick-me method, desperation to be different, etc.  Some relatives even used my queerness to insult my mom when we had a property dispute.

My close friends were confused and concerned. A few ex-friends immediately jumped onto the fetish wagon. And I cut ties with friends, cousins, classmates over the next few months because of this grand revelation. 

An important lesson was learned

These reactions were nowhere near the atrocities other LBGTQIA people face in this country. I belong to the privileged middle-class slot, so being disowned or physically brutalized was never my fear.

Yet, coming out of a closet I didn’t know I was in, was an experience that taught me a key lesson— stop opening the door of the closet for anyone or everyone that knocks.

And I stopped talking about being bi in real life, until I had to— most of the time, it was to curb unwanted attention or to assert my rights.

If you want friends, digital world is the place to find them

My quest to seek out queer friends to get advice and share my sexuality anguish shifted online. Over the last decade, I have made friends with LGBTQIA people from different parts of India and abroad. I have met a few of them, worked with them, hooked up with them and cried to them when people have rejected me based on prejudice.

On my twitter, tumblr and occasionally on facebook, I am the loudest mouthpiece of queerness in my friend circle. My bisexuality thrived on my digitally out persona. In non-virtual, ‘real’ life, my queerness hangs like the mere certificate of participation behind my mind.  

I can have regular conversation with real life friends, but I can’t stop dreading in my queerness. Talks of wanting marriage, children, future financial family goals, all seem so alien to me.

And the more I operate on these bifurcated identities of the digitally out queer and the passive-non-reactive queer in real life, the tougher it gets. I ended up talking about this issue to my friends who are in a straight-passing relationship and married.

Living bifurcated lives is exhausting

My first friend married young, to a person who respected her bi identity, when she was 19. She, too, practices the digitally out and real life passive-non-reactive queer method to navigate her social life. Her colleagues and extended family are deliberately kept in the dark because explaining things gets harder.

Her parents believe it was marriage that ‘cured’ her of ‘strange ailments’. They expect that a child will ‘completely heal’ her. Her colleagues think a child is must because that’s what ‘regular people’ do, and they are fifteen years too late.

And now her extended family has joined the baby wagon. My friend is tempted to come out socially as child free queer person to her relatives and co-workers. 

But most of our mutual internet friends have advised her against doing so, because things get complicated, and the lives surrounding us are dragged into the drama. 

Similarly, I have another friend who is non-binary and in a straight passing relationship. While their parents have understood their non-marriage stance, their colleagues and relatives think it is silly to be in a relationship and not officiate it because— what if their partner leaves them in twenty years?

The primary concern is, what will become of my friend, if they find themselves single and there is no legal way to get compensation for the time and emotions invested. 

I can understand the heterosexual impulse to tie things down to a document because the future in uncertain. The urge to leave behind a legacy of ashes because everything is an investment is so widespread; but I can’t relate to the urge.

Practitioners of heteronormativity do things with future in mind, but without a sense of preservation. Us queers, [not a generalization] we just are glad to make it from one week to the other. To us the present is the most important; yes a marriage certificate is great, but everybody should be allowed to marry! 

After a few years of living alone, in a different city, my social life and digitally out life had almost merged. I was the happiest for a while getting to live as a queer person, both in reality and online.

Gossiping uncle and aunties poke their noses everywhere

Due to unavoidable reasons I moved back home a couple of months back, and ever since then my queer self has again moved back to the digital attic. 

I run into gossip aunties who are concerned about my unmarried state, and retired uncles are calling up my semi-progressive but homophobic father to arrange my marriage because I am getting old. 

My desire to blare my queerness to the public is growing by the minute. 

Then I think about my ailing parents and whatever broken pieces of social life they have and go to vent to twitter. On twitter, I have countless other people who understand my frustration. 

They, too, have to live with bifurcated identities, putting the gayer and freer version into the digital wardrobe while their less gay personas are left to function in this heterosexual world.

The advice I get is unanimous, don’t try to explain your queerness to people who cannot stop poking nose in your life. I think I agree.

Image Source: Instaphotos and Postmodern Studio, free on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Aritra Paul

Editor at Women's Web. She/They. 30. Bi. Bookworm. Comic book connoisseur. read more...

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