Growing up in a Southern Baptist then converted Christian home, expressing oneself was out of the question. The life begun to be built was equally singular and exhausting. When my family emigrated from Texas to Arizona in 1990, its misogynistic culture followed. My father wished for my older brothers and I “great happiness” and “success” but defined by only a singular route: sports. Without knowing better, I fell into a dictatorship-like lifestyle: Anything outside of football was deemed invalid, unworthy, a “woman’s” sport. Admittedly, these thoughts were drilled into my mind with an almost brainwashed effect. As I took on a “man’s responsibility” as my father put it, the more a need for resistance rose from the pit of my stomach. Standing around other freshly turned teenaged “men,” found my mind wandering into unfamiliar, confusing territory. Within, there was a higher attraction for the opposite gender, but this was different. When these feelings were expressed to my then girlfriend, quickly I realized it was a mistake. Deemed as “unclean” and “possessed,” I was relentlessly bullied for the remainder of my school years, and inevitably attempted suicide on multiple occasions.
As my life turned into a living, breathing hell ― I was held back one school year due to the mental, emotional, and physical pain experienced ― my grades suffered and performance plummeted rapidly. When I turned 18 years old, mid-way through junior year of high school, I told myself an escape was sorely needed. Should attempting suicide not be enough, there was the United States Army recruiter who visited my high school that same month. Soon after, I dropped out and acquired my general education degree, allowing me to enter the United States Army.
“This will be my escape,” I told myself.
'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' had yet to be banned and hiding my subtle secondary attraction to the same gender was paramount to my existence.
During this time, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy had yet to be banned and hiding my subtle secondary attraction to the same gender was paramount to my existence. Still, now, there were more questions than answers for who or what I was, trying to understand these feelings. Everything still felt foreign. Fast-forward three years, I found myself amongst a great group of service members who cared not for who you were, if you did your job as expected.
It wasn’t until one year after my service ended when my wife and I married after three years together. It wasn’t till this time when my confidence for speaking out arrived as well. Quickly I learned there was no reason to hide this fact about myself, for those previous three years for she too was bisexual. Through this surprising news, I found a sense of high confidence, however. It was shortly after when I realized that elation would cost me greatly.
Shortly following my coming out to friends and family, the more I understood their position on gender and sexuality, respectively. Much to my disgust, communication all but ceased to exist. It is only through my wife and friends made through online support forums and local community outreach programs that I’ve retained a sense of pride for overcoming one of my greatest hurdles: fear. While my mother has managed to stay in touch still, the rest of my family has cut off all ties and communication alike. Sadly, the same can be said for these supposed friends whom I’ve known for 15 years.
My story is no different from many others out there. My story is by no means unique. And therein lies the problem. While we may come from similar circumstances, trek through the same if not greater or lesser levels of adversity, we are still granted blessings of friendship through both allies and like-minds. Whether facing these challenges or if you find yourself in a positive, comfortable relationship, we come from the same communities, and we are our own family.
As we grow more into ourselves, as we learn to better understand our feelings, the more we understand the abomination that is bi-erasure. Erasure comes in all forms but more commonly within the LGBT community. Yet, how can we all fight for equal rights for LGBT individuals if we, like the heterosexual population, denounce the very existence of one another? We become no better than the individuals who spread hate, fear, and prejudice against all other individuals deemed “unclean” or “possessed.”
Bisexuality is a very real sexuality, proven by science as much as all others. And by that fact, bisexuals, like myself, are valid. Whether you’re a growing teenager or perhaps a full-grown adult, it matters not. You will rise, and you will fall. With the strength of the bisexual and other communities, and allies alike, we inevitably find strength in ourselves to keep moving forward. So, don’t be afraid to express who you are. Please, do not by afraid to share your story. It was through someone else’s story where I found my strength to keep moving forward – it saved my life. Sharing yours will someday save someone else’s life.
“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.” – Chinese Proverb