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Author Topic: Is it okay to come out as something that you aren't?
Burdened with glorious booty
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I know that the immediate answer to that above question is usually no, but hear me out a moment.

I hate the idea of covering up who I am, and I want to be out and proud as bi (and most likely genderqueer). On the other hand, however, in having discussions with relatives about LGBT issues, my mum (who I haven't come out to yet, although I think she might have guessed by now) tell me to not try and talk to my grandparents about bisexuality since "They wouldn't understand it." On top of that, my parents are only just getting their heads around the fact that bi people exist as well, and while my mum is accepting of trans people, my dad isn't all that okay with the idea, and neither of them would understand the concept of being genderqueer.

So, if I want to date a woman and come out to my wider family, then I might have to lie and say that I'm a lesbian. I know for a fact that my family are okay with gay men and lesbian women, especially considering that I have relatives who are gay and they're loved all the same. I hate the idea of doing that, but I'd still want to explain myself in a way that they would understand, and this might be the only way possible (as for being genderqueer - I could tell people I'm a crossdresser instead, if they ask).

I hate the idea of having to do that, but it might make things easier for me, and it might prevent a lot of hardship and misunderstanding. Is it wrong of me to be considering this, or should I find another way?

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Ta-da!

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Heather
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I think with something like this -- and I agree with you, it's complex - it's really mostly about what you feel okay with.

I'd remind yourself that it's not your fault that there is big stigma and misinformation around bisexuality. You didn't make that, and you can't undo that just by coming out as bisexual, either. You also have to live with it, and, IMO, I think it's okay to misrepresent in ways that don't have the capacity to harm anyone for your own safety and comfort in situations like this.

So, how do YOU feel about this as an option compared with other alternatives?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Burdened with glorious booty
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I would say that I don't like it as an option. If I do ever go ahead with it, then it would mostly be to tell my grandparents that I'm a lesbian, and everyone else that I'm bi - I do love them, and I want to be as honest with everyone as I can, but the idea of being misunderstood is an awful one to me as well. But then, the idea of never being at all open with them about it upsets me too. My sister is bi as well, but due to being engaged to a man, it isn't really discussed at all, and I don't think some of our relatives know about it - meanwhile, it might HAVE to be an issue for me if I ever end up in a same-sex relationship. So I don't like the idea of it, but I think I almost see it as a necessary evil, because I can't bear to upset/disappoint/confuse these people.

I think what gets me about this is that part of the reason this stigma against bi people exists is because of different gay/lesbian people saying that they're bi before coming out as gay - so because I dislike that stereotype so much, doing the opposite seems hypocritical to me, especially since I shouldn't be judging people for doing that (I'm sure everyone who does that has their own valid reasons for doing so - why should I complain?).

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Ta-da!

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Heather
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You know, I don't know how many gay/lesbian people have actually said that. My longtime impression and experience is that's far more something straight people say ABOUT gay, lesbian and bisexual people. So, I wouldn't fixate on that, both because my impression is that's not based in most people's realities but also because that doesn't really help you very much, you know?

I wonder, if you don't like this option, if a better alternative might be to talk with your sister, and you can BOTH talk to your parents about bisexuality?

I'd also say that chances are there's not going to be any avoiding upset or confusion, whether you say you're lesbian or bisexual. And of course, it time, you will probably want to tell your actual truth anyway, so it's probably worth thinking about how many times you really want to come out to people difficult to come out to, you know?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Burdened with glorious booty
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Being fair, I have heard gay people say that before - usually, as "Now, that person MIGHT be bi, but I came out as bi before coming out as gay just to test the waters, so they might not be." I think it's exaggerated as a stereotype, definitely, but I have definitely heard people claiming to have done this. I'm not going to focus on it, though.

Every time we try and talk about these things - usually in a non-personal sense - we get told that even if the opinions of our parents/grandparents are slightly awful, it's just how they grew up and we can't change their minds. With my mum, it's been a VERY slow process in getting her away from thinking "bi people are just greedy sluts" to "I guess they aren't greedy sluts...but I still don't get it." And she kept holding that former opinion even after my sister tried coming out. So sometimes, talking to them can be like talking to a brick wall. Still, they do tell us that "We'll be happy whatever you choose to do," so they wouldn't be bad about it...I just hate the idea of my parents finding it difficult/impossible to understand me. Same goes with everyone else.

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Ta-da!

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Heather
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Huh. Maybe that's generational?

(And boy, I feel like I should have been more greedy now! [Razz] )

I'm not sure that your parents are going to understand you no matter how you slice it, at least not right away, and not without spending some real time, over time really listening to and hearing your life experiences and those of others who are LGBTQ. I don't say that to make you feel more stuck or bummed, but rather to say that if that's what what you tell them is hinging on, and you would feel better in some ways just being truthful, I don't think telling them you're lesbian is likely to result in any more understanding than telling them you are bisexual is.

Really, people understanding another orientation, one they're not, one no one they have been close to is, is never going to be something instant. Just like any other radical difference in who we are or what our lives are like, understanding is always going to take effort, time and lot of mutual, open communication.

Can I check in with you about how the timing right now feels to you, period, about coming out to your folks? Does this feel like a good time to you, and like a time when you feel ready, and suspect at least one of them is also ready to really hear you and provide some acceptance?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Burdened with glorious booty
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Maybe. Again, I don't think as many people do it as the stereotype suggests, but still (although I also heard a study showed that equal amounts of people came out as gay/lesbian first, and as bisexual later on? it's interesting either way).

I do understand where you're coming from, yeah. With my folks, I keep not being able to find the right time, but at the same time, I feel like I should have come out to them ages ago. I finally admitted it to myself a year ago, and yet I haven't said anything to them about it. I know I don't have to come out if I don't want to, but I also don't want to have to treat coming out as something I should only do if I absolutely have to, either. And they both still assert that they'd be okay with anything I do (even if they don't understand, although I'd want understanding from them too). So I'm not sure about the timing, really.

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Ta-da!

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