When I was in middle school, I became fascinated with a girl in my class. It wasn’t exactly a crush, just a mild interest. I didn’t understand what bisexuality was at that age. I ignored it until near the end of my freshman year of high school. At that point, I developed a crush on a friend, who was also a girl. I got over it quickly, but I had no idea what was going on.
By then, I understood more about bisexuality. I still liked boys, but I also liked girls. The problem was how people might take it if I told them. I had a conservative family, and they didn’t understand that kind of thing. What would they think? What would my friends think? I ended up feeling small and insignificant. For a long time, it felt like I was trapped in a bubble and I couldn’t do anything about it.
Eventually, I couldn’t keep it a secret anymore. I came out to my parents and sister during the October of my sophomore year after several months of sexual confusion. To my surprise, they took it well. They didn’t care who I liked as long as I was happy. I wanted to come out to my friends, but I didn’t know how I was going to do that just yet.
My school’s semi-formal was rolling around. About a month prior to this, I told my friend Tess that I was asking one of our guy friends, Mark, to the dance. If he said no, then I’d ask someone in my English class whom I liked named Rose. I didn’t tell Tess Rose’s name, or that I wanted to date Rose, out of embarrassment.
I asked Mark, but I later found out that he would be out of town the weekend of the dance. I decided I might as well ask Rose to go with me. I’d take the opportunity to come out to my friends after that. Unfortunately, Rose said no because she didn’t like dances.
Yep. No better feeling than being rejected by your first actual crush.
I eventually got over it, and I still had my friend group to go with, so I didn’t think too much of it after a few days.
A few days before the dance, Tess texted me asking who I was planning on taking. Tess knew that I had asked someone I liked, but I had failed to tell her that it was Rose, and that she had said no.
This was a huge “oh, crap” moment on my part. I wasn’t out to Tess yet, or any of my other friends, and she didn’t know that I liked a girl. She also mentioned before that her father was a pastor and that both of her parents were conservative. I had no idea how she would react if I told her.
I guess I could have lied and told her that I’d asked a boy, but I didn’t for two reasons. The first being that I didn’t like lying, especially to someone so close to me. The second reason was that, in the heat of the moment, my mind went completely blank. I wouldn’t have been able to tell a lie if I tried.
I finally told her that I asked Rose, horrified by what her reaction might be. A few minutes later, she still hadn’t responded, and I started bursting into tears. I was utterly convinced that I had just lost one of my best friends. Tess finally responded by apologizing that Rose had said no. In turn, I frantically apologized for potentially freaking her out. She was confused by this, and after several minutes of trying to figure out what to say, I decided to throw in the towel. I told her that I had liked Rose for a while and that I was afraid to tell anyone else.
Tess ended up taking it well. She messaged me back, saying that no matter whom I liked, it wouldn’t change how she thought of me. I felt a huge weight being lifted from my back. It felt so good to be open with a friend about such a big part of myself. I then clarified with her that I was bisexual, worried about what she might say. She responded by assuring me that she wasn’t weirded out by this revelation.
When I didn’t respond, Tess said, “Don’t be afraid, I’m not going to judge you.”
I stared at the message and started crying again. Not because I was still sad, but because Tess had been so accepting. She was the first of my friends that I had come out to, and I was so glad that I finally got it off my chest with her. When I saw her the next day, I was happy to find that she still thought of me the same way she always had. I could feel the bubble starting to dissipate around me.
A few months later, my mother’s sister and brother in law came to visit us. During the last night of their visit, I decided to come out to my Aunt Sarah.
The first thing Sarah said to me was, “I’m just going to be praying that you’re not.”
My heart dropped into my stomach. This was exactly what I was afraid of. How dare she say something so atrocious and expect me to be okay with it? More so, how could a member of my family be so in denial about me?
Sarah came up to my room a few hours later and tried to explain herself. When I offered to come out to my uncle, she warned me not to. The gist of her explanation was that my uncle had been suffering from depression for years, and if he knew that I was bi, I would only make it worse. She then went on to compare that with my dad’s depression, as if she were blaming me for it.
I eventually felt my old fear of the world crawling up my back. The bubble came back and it was smaller than ever. I kept quiet for a long time after that night.
At the start of junior year, I was encouraged by my mom to join my school’s gay-straight alliance. Eventually, I ended up being able to be more open about myself around those people. Thankfully, I was able to regain a bit of comfort with myself, and gained a bit of courage to come out to a few people.
In March during that year, I decided to take one of my friends, Chloe, to the very same semi-formal that I had asked Rose to the year prior – Rose had since moved. Chloe went to my school during my sophomore year, but transferred to a performing arts school for our junior year. She had wanted to go to the dance the year before, but she wasn’t able to. She was also having boy trouble at the time, and I figured she could use some girl time.
Tess was there as well, with her boyfriend, Andrew. Tess must have seen Chloe and me together and thought, “Hmm, are they dating?”
She asked a mutual friend if that was the case. I assume Tess had asked our friend without giving my specific sexuality away. This friend asked Chloe, who explained to her that we weren’t dating, and that she was straight.
Chloe and our friend must have thought it was funny, and in hindsight, it actually was. Truth be told, I suspected that people might think that we were dating, but I didn’t care.
Chloe and I were both tired from dancing so we decided to step outside. I took the opportunity to come out to her. I assured her that I was still the same person I always was, and told her that I was bisexual. Chloe ended up being completely accepting about it. I’d tried to come out to her before, but she was more religious at the time and I held myself back. She has since converted from Mormon to agnostic, and she was much more open-minded about it.
As time passes, I’m taking my time telling people about who I am. The bubble is slowly getting bigger as I’m becoming more and more comfortable with myself. More people in my life know about me by now: some of my close friends, family friends, the kids in gay-straight alliance, and a handful of girls on my lacrosse team. They were all okay with me and I’m taking opportunities to break out of my shell, if and when I can. Eventually, there won’t be any more bubble. Just my own space.