I found myself wading through a muck of doubt when I first started writing this blog post.
I didn’t fully come into my queerness until this past year, when I turned thirty. And before that, I lived as a straight, cis woman. I’m married to a man, and even though lots of people who know me know that I am bi+, it’s not an aspect of myself that’s very visible. So, what right did I have to speak on behalf or directly to the LGBTQIA+ community?
I know that “passing” as straight comes with its own set of privileges and advantages. No one really ever knew or needed to know that I’m bi+, and that has likely saved me from discrimination and unkindness in the past, at the very least (I guess the cat’s out of the bag now, though).
But, alongside the very real safety that comes from flying under the radar, there’s a kind of erasure.
Realizing that I was bi+ felt like an awakening, like the light shifting in the room, like I’d discovered a new color, one that other people had been seeing all along.
It was moving. On the inside, I felt like I was a piece of glass, heated to molten, fluid and strong, and dazzlingly bright. I felt transformed. But, of course, nothing about my outward appearance or lifestyle changed.
When I knew that I wasn’t strictly straight, my husband was the first person I told (he smiled and said “I know,” and we laughed). But, when it came to telling other people, I asked myself: Does it even matter? It doesn’t change anything about me or my relationship to that person. Why open that can of worms?
But, despite these doubting voices in my head, I started coming out to people, usually suddenly and without warning. The words “I’m bi+” would tumble out of my mouth during phone calls with far-flung friends, or during our weekly girl’s happy hour. I was like a Coming Out Jack-in-the-Box.
Between social engagements, I would tell myself that it didn’t matter if I told people that I was bi+ or not. But, two sips into my pale ale, I’d find myself telling people. I took this as a sign that maybe being more visible as a queer person, something I had repeatedly tried to talk myself out of, was important to me.
I started looking forward to PRIDE 2020. I longed to talk to other queer people, to feel proud of this thing that used to make me feel shameful and insecure, and, most importantly, to feel seen.
Unfortunately, my desire to jump head-first into the queer community sprang up just as the deadly COVID-19 pandemic did. My local PRIDE events, along with most others across the country, have been cancelled.
It was my first opportunity to openly revel in my Bi+ness with other members of the LGBTQ+ community, and fully live my rainbow fantasy, and it had been lost.
Of course, I agree that it would be unsafe for these events to go on as scheduled and I know that my story about missing PRIDE isn’t unique. This is what makes PRIDE so vital.
Taking a moment to validate queerness and to celebrate a part of ourselves that has, in the past, been something that invited shame from others can be incredibly empowering. It can even save lives. The more visible queerness becomes, the more the stigma and discrimination that LGBTQIA+ people face can be cut down at the root.
But, sadly, here we are in 2020, and most of our in-person PRIDE events are no-go. Who knows when we’ll be able to get together in all of our rainbow glory again? And, without this fun and festive reminder that we as queer people have rights, how could I avoid slipping back into my doubts that my bi+-ness mattered to me?
Thankfully, there are a few things in our modern age that help me feel connected to my bi+ness during quarantine, or should I say… queerantine?
Whenever I start to feel a little erased, I throw on “Gettin’ Bi,” a Bi anthem from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that proudly proclaims, “Cause bi’s legit/Whether you’re a he or a she/We might be a perfect fit.” I blast this 80’s-inspired jam and dance like I would on the streets during PRIDE, but in my living room instead.
And, when I feel like I need to connect more with other LGBTQIA+ people, I turn to Instagram, where accounts like @biplusvisibility, @queerappalachia, and @lgbt_history teach me about my history as a member of the queer community and help me feel seen. It’s a relief to see myself reflected, even in some small way, on my social media feed.
My husband and I are even looking into buying our own rainbow flag to put up for the month of June. Or, maybe we’ll keep it up all year. It’s just one of the many ways we as queer people are able to say I see you, and, without in-person PRIDE events this year, that visibility is more important than ever.