5 Reasons Why I Never Want to Pass As Straight Again

On November 28, 2011, I was out as a bisexual to my wife, my family and a handful of my closest friends.

On November 29, 2011, I was outed as a bisexual and former adult actor on primetime TV to approximately 53,000 viewers.

The fact that a high school teacher had previously starred in a couple of adult films was presented as scandalous. The fact that the films in question showed me having sex with another man only added to the salaciousness of the scandal.

I don't think that prior to the news story, it ever occurred to anyone in my professional sphere to question my sexual orientation. Since my coworkers only knew me as a happily married man, they'd erroneously assumed I was straight. For my part, I didn't think my sexual orientation was my colleagues' business, so I didn't bring it up. In short, for years, I never publicly challenged my straight persona.

Granted, it's unnerving to be judged in the court of public opinion. But what this whole experience taught me was that it's more unnerving not to be yourself. So here's why I never want to pass as straight again:

  1. Passing can cause constant stress. In hindsight, maybe the reason I allowed myself to pass was an intuitive knowledge that bisexual men aren't well accepted in our society. Research shows that only 8 percent of LGBT adults agree there's a lot of acceptance for bisexual men. Interestingly, however, a 2013 study by the Centre for Studies on Human Stress and the University of Montréal showed that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who are out experience lower cortisol levels and fewer symptoms of burnout, anxiety and depression than those who are closeted. Though it took me a long time to overcome my traumatic experience, I eventually realized how hard I'd subconsciously been working to hide part of me in public. With the never-forgetting Internet having made my private life everybody's business, I had no other option left than to be out all the time. Once I accepted that, I felt stronger, more relaxed and empowered to stand up for myself.

  • The bisexual community accepts me for who I am. When I was first outed, misconceptions were rife. People who'd never met me felt justified in labeling me in a way that fit their perceptions. I was stigmatized a sex addict. I was accused of being "gay for pay." I was told to stop lying to myself and leave my wife. It wasn't until I connected with long-time bi activist and then President of the Bisexual Resource Center, Ellyn Ruthstrom, as well as the bisexual community in Boston, that I found a place where I could be myself. There, I was accepted for who I was because people understood bisexuality. Now, four years later, I'm honored to be a part of our community, and that's why I'll always proudly wear the tri-colors on my sleeve.
  • Bisexual men need more visibility. The number of bisexual men who are out is small. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, only 12 percent of bisexual men are out to the most important people in their lives, compared to 33 percent of bisexual women, 71 percent of lesbian women and 77 percent of gay men. Now that I'm out, I'm committed to using my position for good. I hope other bi+ men can take strength from my story. I believe that the more bisexual men are open about their sexual orientation, the easier it will be for others to come out and hopefully lead more authentic, fulfilling lives.
  • I'm dedicated to helping non-bisexuals understand and accept bisexuality. Over the years, a number of people have started conversations with me about bisexuality. Regardless of their orientations, these people -- many of whom initially either denied the existence of bisexuality or believed misconceptions about bi+ individuals -- felt at ease to ask me questions and listen to my answers. It would be overly optimistic to say that all of them changed their opinions, but quite a few did develop a deeper understanding of bisexuality and bi+ people. And that keeps me motivated to educate others about my community.
  • My position as a bi activist has allowed me to have conversations with others who've been stigmatized. Nothing prepared me for the degree of stigmatization and ostracization I initially encountered after I was outed. Yet working through the pain, healing my stigma and repairing my identity has allowed me to meet others who've been through their own stigmatizing and traumatic experiences. Every one of those people has strengthened my resolve to challenge and heal stigma.
  • I still encounter prejudice because of my bisexuality. And I won't lie: it hurts every time it happens. But I strongly believe as I stand up and claim my space as a male bisexual every day, the chances of others being able to live their lives out -- both personally and professionally -- will increase in the days, months and years to come.

    Also on HuffPost: