7 January 2008

I am bisexual and I want to know if I should tell my friends and other people at school

Well, I am a Bisexual male , which is very rare as I have realized. There are bisexual females at my school, but I am a guy and they don’t know what I endure everyday (I also don’t know them personally). My friends give me a hard time about it, they argue with me sometimes and make “Bi Jokes”. I want to be openly Bi, but it won’t be easy since I am 13 and in middle school. I have a single parent (my mother) who tells me I better not ever come out saying I am gay. When I watch Tila Tequila (a bisexual) she calls her a freak. I am going to tell a lot of people when I get back to school (besides the other 9 who already know). This little secret has spread around the school and I will confirm this. I need to know what you think!

JP Duc

Hi Devin,

Thanks for your question.

First, because you state that being a male bisexual is uncommon or rare, I would like to reassure you by confirming that there is actually many men who are bisexual.

What we have to remember is that the terms ‘bisexual’, ‘homosexual’ are just that: terms, i.e. they are words to help categorize individuals concerning their sexual preference. Because being in the non-heterosexual category puts you in a minor segment of the population with different sexual preferences, it may feel or be seen as something wrong, bad or immoral. It is certainly difficult for some heterosexual individuals to understand or even accept this. It will take your mother some time before accepting your sexual orientation.

There is no question that what a teen is going through can seem overwhelming at times. Puberty occurs between the ages of 11 and 18, and this includes major hormonal changes, sexual development, and sexual identity development. Because other teen boys are going through those processes of sexual development and sexual identity the phenomenon of joining or being part of the major societal structure of sexual orientation ‘heterosexuality’ is of utmost importance to adolescent boys.

Media messages, popular culture, family, religion, cultural directions and beliefs can induce adolescent boys to think they have to be tough, not to cry, and excel at sports. Adolescents will also wear clothing and have attitudes that mirror popular male icons. Male adolescents even go as far as treating those who don’t fit the “manly” mould as being different and so they exclude those others by bullying them, ridiculizing them, rejecting them, and making them feel isolated. This social peer pressure is very hard on teens.

No doubt the teenager’s life period is short-lived and only lasts about 8 years, but in terms of lasting impact in one’s life, it is the utmost importance. What you are saying, Devin, about coming out as being tough at age 13 is absolutely true. At 12-13 years of age, you are starting high school, a period that ends usually around 18-19 years of age. A high school is like a microcosm (a replica in miniature) of the real world. It is supposed to be just a learning establishment but it takes up such a large proportion of a teen’s life that it can feel as if it is all that their life is about!

What I have suggested to other high school students is that they find activities and friends that fit them better outside of the school environment; for example, get involved with a community organization, an organized athletic or artistic activity you are interested. The idea behind this is that all your social circle and friendships will not revolve around or only within your school. You will also be able to get social inputs from other places than just your school environment. You want to avoid basing your entire social context around your peers at your school. Many students have been ostracized and have become easy targets for bullies because their entire social network and peer support (all the people they know) come from a limited pool of students. These teens had no other peer contact; and this especially applies to young adults who don’t have siblings or family such as cousins of the same age.

Use your judgment to determine who you can and cannot trust as friends at your school: watch what they do and don’t do to support you, and ask yourself if they are fair and kind or just rumor and gossip mills. You are better off having a small strong pool of friends you can be honest with, than a large pool of acquaintances you cannot trust.

The decision to reveal or divulge your sexual orientation at school is really up to you. The decision can be based on how comfortable you feel about making your sexual orientation public, and on whether you feel safe or not from verbal or physical abuse and from potential bullies. This decision should also depend partly on the type of support you could get from school staff. Some schools now have clear guidelines zero-tolerance policies towards bullying and physical violence. If you are a victim of verbal or physical harassment, carefully note down and keep a hidden record at home of everything that is happening and the exact dates, times, and people involved. You can then give investigators and the school director a photocopy of these notes.

In conclusion, try making trusted friends at school but also outside of school such as from cultural, youth, community or sport organizations. To vary your activities, you can participate in special events at school and/or volunteer, i.e. help serve lunch to younger kids or act as a tutor. Build solid friendships; try to stay away from gossip and rumours. Get balanced information and do not believe everything you hear from friends and older teens. Get smart! Read, analyze, seek information, and get this information from trusted adults, doctors, neighbours, teachers, school counsellors, media news and even then use your judgment to determine what is right and wrong.

High school is usually a difficult period for most people but use some of the techniques above and find others to get you through it, because it is only a period in your life: it does not last forever! And yes, as an adult it does become easier, and it is up to you to make good choices to get there. Also a final point about your sexual orientation (actually mentioned on this website): your sexual orientation may change or evolve as you get older, and you could become more or less interested in women and/or men. Sexuality is fluid and can vary over the course of a lifetime.

I truly hope all the above information will help you make an informed and mature decision. Please contact us again if you have other questions,

JP, for Alterheros