Born this way

Conflicting Bias

“I have to tell you something.”

A fearful pause. 

“I am bisexual.”

Cold, deathly silence. 

“This is not what we need to hear right now.” 

Something in you is crushed when a fundamental part of your identity is rejected by those closest to you.  There is a sense of betrayal, guilt and overwhelming loneliness when you realize your fantasy for acceptance is just that: a fantasy. 

I became a very active member of my Baptist church beginning in fourth grade. The community aspect of the church made me feel I had a place where I belonged, and the idea of a greater power looking out for me gave me hope as I began to move uncertainly into puberty. The church was the perfect place for me; I had friends I could put on Christian plays with, classes I enjoyed and many volunteer opportunities that made me feel I was giving back. 

When I realized I was more excited than everyone else to see the pretty girl in Sunday School, I immediately refused to accept it. 

Because I was also attracted to the opposite gender, it was easy to pretend that my bisexual realization had never happened, and that things were exactly the same as they were before. Of course, deep down I felt the cold reality of my attraction to women, and I buried it under feelings of disgust and fear. I was terrified of betraying my faith; of going to hell and leaving my family behind. It took a year of internal reflection to understand that I had nothing to be ashamed of, and I had the right to love people just like everyone else. 

As a result of my acceptance, I began to distance myself from the church. I only attended on Sundays with the rest of my family, and tried to subtly avoid it as much as possible. Growing confident in my identity, I began to turn to close family members to risk the truth. 

The first person I ever told was my grandmother. Though she had advocated for LGBT rights in the 70s, I still feared the potential disappointment of not turning out “normal.” My worries were unrealized, as she affirmed her love and support for me, promising me as I cried that she would never leave me. 

After telling my grandmother, I turned to an old close friend to see how my admission would affect my social life. She admitted to not understanding my preferences, but she told me she loved me and would always support me. I felt over the moon: I was supported and loved, and I was building the courage to tell my parents. 

Except I did not get the chance to. 

While spending the day with my mom, she received a text from my friend’s mom, telling her about my sexuality. I was devastated. My chance to tell her myself had been taken from me. We both stood in awkward silence when she told me she loved me. I was grateful for her support, but nothing could mend the heartbreak of having such an important moment stolen. 

Despite my devastation, I was determined to power through and be unapologetically open about my identity. The one thing standing in my way was the relationship I had with my father. While I loved him dearly, I knew of his reputation of homophobia, to the point where people warned me about it when I initially came out to them. 

Around a year after I had been outed to my mom, I pulled my dad and stepmom aside and told them I needed to tell them something. After a few moments of stuttering, I finally managed to spit out my confession: “I am bisexual.” There was an uncomfortable pause, before they told me to go upstairs, not ready to deal with the conversation. 

We spoke a bit that night, but since then, the topic had stayed largely taboo. Out of respect for their authority, I did not tell any of my siblings about my identity, not wanting to cause further family conflict, though it did not prevent some from figuring it out on their own. One Christmas, I was cornered by my aunt and given an hour long lecture about the importance of Christianity and the sinful nature of homosexuality. Merry Christmas. 

My resentment festered about their treatment for years. I would avoid conversations, or visiting their house, or generally spending one-on-one time with my father out of a complete feeling of betrayal. Overcome with emotion, I did not realize how deep the hurt ran until my friend pointed out I hold just as much hate as my dad did. 

On a phone call with my friend, a member of the Catholic church, he gently reminded me I had my own prejudice against the church and Christians in general, noting that I had made several snide comments throughout our friendship about religion and its fallacies. Appalled, I denied these accusations, but they would not leave my mind. I reached out to a few friends who practiced Christianity and talked a lot with them about their experiences, and their relationship with the LGBT community. Part of me struggled to let go of the pain my church had caused with their lectures about “a man belonging with a woman.” However, I feel moving on is a personal decision everyone should eventually make, and although I can dislike the church that hurt me, I refuse to continue to hate the religion they happened to be associated with.

Since coming out, my father and I have grown a bit closer, to the point where he was willing to meet my girlfriend. We still struggle significantly with communication, but our progress is still evident. Though there may be hurt on all sides, I feel as though my family has grown exponentially, and there is only more growth and love in our future with acceptance of each other.