6 June 2003

I'm still scared about being bisexual, how can I come out to people ?

Dear AlterHeros,
I’m still scared about being bi and how can I come out to people?

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Dear Linda,

You’ve asked a very interesting and very relevant question.  Everyone reacts to the discovery of their sexual orientation in a very personal manner.  Following the first instance of attraction towards someone of the same gender, a first glance, the first kiss, or the first sexual encounter, one can experience a certain feeling of disorder.  Some people are more accommodating to the idea of being homosexual or bisexual, more so than others.  But for some, this discovery causes real a feeling of faintness, concern, anguish… It is difficult to give a precise reason behind what causes this fear because there are as many possible explanations for it as there are people who discover their homosexuality or bisexuality. Homosexuality and bisexuality are forms of desire, therefore personal, and any formulation of a general rule in this field is hazardous, but we can think of heteronormativity as the root of these uncomfortable situations.

Nevertheless, we can try to understand this fear, because by living in this Western society, we all, more or less, confront the same types of obstacles, with respect to the recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans rights, and factors that affect the acceptance of oneself as a homosexual, bisexual, or trans individual. In other circumstances, in a society that would be more accepting, it is possible that the LGBT orientations and identities would be considered a legitimate form of sexual desire in love. It is the presence of these obstacles which, in my opinion, often makes it difficult for those that discover their homosexuality or bisexuality to accept their reality. These are the obstacles that often illicit, within us, a sense of fear even fright – but not to be heterosexual (i.e. to be attracted to a person of another gender), as it is the case for many people.

To be brief, I would say that, in general, the unknown creates or illicits fear. That which attracts us to people of the same gender in situations where we have nothing to hold on to, a situation often not well explained. To dispel our childhood fears, our parents told us stories, painted monsters which haunted us and which we are afraid of, reassured us about things that worried us. But rarely did we and do we ever learn that it is ok for someone to be homosexual or bisexual, that it is possible to be attracted to boys or girls or non-binary people or all of the above, and that it is ok to discover or experiment with an attraction for someone of the same gender.

One does not speak about homosexuality and bisexuality because people because it is more often than not regarded as deviant behaviour, a perversion, which is not entitled to be recognized or talked about, for example, in school sex education classes. But why this relentless effort to regard gay and bisexual people as sexual deviants ?

For instance, if one is afraid to talk about homosexuality (in the school environment, within the family, between friends…), it is then homosexuality itself which creates the fear. It is too often feared and considered a disease, something contagious, which would likely infect the youth if one talked to them about it…  We consider it dangerous to speak of anything other than heterosexuality. Homosexuality, considered frightening because little is known about it, remains confined to the circle of the unknown.  But if it remains ignored, it will continue to be feared !

If someone discovers their true sexual orientation, be it homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, etc., one sometimes instructs him/her to remain silent…  A silence full of consequences, a very unpleasant fear which I’ve talked about, anguish related to buried secrets which one does not speak of but which are filled with pressing danger.

Fear of being homosexual or bisexual takes on different forms and is sometimes accompanied by sentiments of solitude and genuine distress :

  • fear of oneself, to be abnormal, accompanied by a dislike or hatred of oneself…
  • fear of the reaction of others towards you (friends, family, classmates, teachers, colleagues at work…) which results in isolation, hiding, to be ashamed of oneself, and often leads to one living a double life, while secretly living his/her homosexuality or bisexuality…
  • fear of a lack of understanding and rejection by those close to you, fear of losing those which one loves, cares for…
  • Fear of making others suffer:  if one does not talk about homosexuality then it must be evil… One wonders then if the truth will make one’s parents suffer, if one is worthy to be loved…  Fear of disappointing others…
  • Fear of the future:  the hopes, dreams, and projects we set out for life are more or less conditioned by the heterosexual model: to have a wife/a husband, children, a beautiful house…  When one discovers that he/she is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, he/she anticipates future problems, which is quite normal, since nobody told him/her about anything else but a heterosexual orientation or model to follow.
  • Fear of not being able to be happy, not to be able to find a soulmate, to spending the rest of your life alone…

In all cases, I imagine that this fear is directly related to the ignorance towards understanding what it is to be homosexual, bisexual, or different.  If those that discovered what draws them to others of the same gender had learned about homosexuality and bisexuality in a manner other than how it is usually conveyed (with prejudice) or by the silence which surrounds the subject, this fear, with its multiple facets, would not lead to the intense anguish that is sometimes associated with it nowadays.

With regards to how you can come out to other people and tell them about your bisexuality, I suggest you read our responses to questions about the same topic that we have previously answered for others. In addition, I suggest reading some articles in our Coming Out section, and the Questioning – Orientation folder, which may help answer any other questions you yourself may have as well as help you dispel any wrong ideas others may have regarding homosexuality. In addition, reading some of the personal stories of others that came out may prove useful – by learning about other’s experiences, you’ll know more about who you are, what stage in the coming out process you are at,  and what to expect when do you come out. Some of these stories can be found of our website.

I hope I’ve answered your question. If you have other questions, does not hesitate to reach out to us.

Team AlterHéros