Things I'm tired of hearing after coming out as bisexual
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). Some 1 in 4 people in the UK will be affected by a mental health issue each year, with anxiety and depression being the most common problems. All this week, JOE will be publishing a series of stories, videos, and personal accounts to engage with and widen the discussion about men's mental health in the UK today.
Hi there, my name is Kevin and I like dogs, watching football and sometimes I want to (and then do) kiss other guys.
As a teenager and young adult, I struggled to accept myself because I realised that I am part of a very exclusive club - I am a bisexual man.
I became very insecure and was sure that everybody knew I was a freak, but were all waiting for the opportune moment to laugh at me all at once. It was a very bad point in my life, during which I considered suicide frequently.
Thankfully, I am now openly bisexual and comfortable enough with myself to have spoken about my sexuality on national radio in both the UK and Ireland, as well as writing it for you to see now.
But while I'm happy to have come out, there are a few little annoyances about it now. Once people find out I am bisexual, they tend to get a bit inquisitive, and I find myself answering the same kinds of questions over and over.
So next time I am at a party and someone brings it up, I will simply hand them my phone with this article loaded up and explain to them that this is my FAQ about being bisexual. Here are the things I'm sick of hearing when people find out I'm bi.
1. "No you're not."
Yes, I am.
2. "Are you sure?"
Yes, I'm pretty sure. That's the fun thing about being me, that I get to define these things for myself just like you get to define your own sexuality too.
3. "When did you decide to be bisexual?"
I never decided anything, I just realised. Same way you realised you were straight/gay/bi/asexual. But if you're asking when I knew, I guess I'd say that I always did.
I didn't fully accept it for a very long time, but I think I was around 16 or 17 when I started to embrace it. About three years later, I came out to family and friends.
4. "I would never have guessed/This explains a lot."
It's funny how often I hear one of these two conflicting statements. For some people, I don't fit the mould of what they expect a not-straight person to look like, while for others I'm a textbook example. It's funny how stereotypes can be so flexible.
5. "But you like sports!"
I have a wide array of interests. In fact, the first man I ever had a crush on was Alex Manninger when he filled in for David Seaman during Arsenal's run to the league and cup double of 1997/98.
The rosy-cheeked Austrian prince kept a club-record six clean sheets in a row and looked damn good while doing it.
6. "Why do you need to put a label on it?"
I'd rather not have to, to be honest, but in today's society it is unfortunately necessary.
7. "I never came out as straight, so why do you need to come out as bisexual?"
As a young teenager, I had no idea what bisexuality was. As I got older, I thought that bisexuality was just a phase and something I would grow out of. But I never did, so I think it's important to be open and honest about it so that it will hopefully help people to go through those stages faster than I did.
I remember lying in bed crying all night because I thought there was something wrong with me. I would go to school having not slept for two days because I was so unhappy. If I can stop that happening for even one person who reads this, then I'll consider this article a success.
8. "You're just saying this so it'll be easier to come out as a gay down the line."
This one is strangely common, and never really made any sense to me. If I wanted to come out as gay, I would have come out as gay. It would actually be a lot less confusing.
9. "Are you sure you're not gay?"
Yes, I'm really sure. There's nothing wrong with being gay, but when we label bisexual men as gay (see: Mercury, Freddie) we make it more difficult for young men to come to terms with their sexuality and lead a happy and healthy life.
I'm attracted to people of all genders. It makes waiting for a bus much more entertaining.
10. "Is this why you like Marina and the Diamonds so much?"
I honestly don't know how to answer this question because I can't imagine anyone not liking Marina and the Diamonds.
But no, my musical preferences are not tied to my sexual preferences any more than my support for Arsenal is tied to my fondness for houmous.
11. "Does this mean you wank to guys?"
My masturbatory habits are between me and the dude in a trench coat at the top of the Google Chrome Incognito browser, thank you very much.
12. "Do you think I'm hot?"
I can't see you, but you're reading JOE so I'd say there's a good chance that you are incredibly attractive.
13. "What would your parents say?"
They've both been very supportive throughout my coming out and last year when I returned to Ireland to vote to legalise same-sex marriage.
14. "You're so lucky/greedy. You must have sex all the time."
Contrary to popular belief, bisexual people are actually what scientists refer to as "humans", just like most people you know. I still work 40 hours a week and waste my weekends screaming at millionaires to kick a ball better than differently dressed millionaires.
My point is, I have other commitments in my life beyond orgies.
15. "I think everyone's a bit bisexual."
Your sexuality is up for you to define, no one else. If you think you're a bit bisexual, then great. Some people aren't. For me, it's not a 50/50 split. I am more attracted to women than men.
I think we're starting to understand sexuality these days as less of a binary (straight or gay) and more of a spectrum, with 100% straight and 100% gay at either ends. Most of us fall somewhere between the two.
16. "How do I help a friend who has come out to me?"
Now this is a question I'll never tire of answering, because it's so important and so simple. If someone comes out to you in any capacity (as bisexual, as gay, as transgender) your main job is easy, just listen to what they have to say and support them completely.
You're not going to know exactly what they're going through, but showing them you care could save their life.