This guest post series is all about queer people talking about their relationship with queer books, whether they saw themselves represented in them or not. If you would like to write a guest post for me, the rules and info on how to contact me are on this post.
Today’s post is by Hollie, one of the very first bloggers I followed specifically because she talked about queer themes. Her post puts into words some stuff I’ve felt for a while and I didn’t know how to express, so I’m particularly grateful to have read it and to now be able to share it with everybody!
The first time I came out, it was to my (then) bisexual boyfriend.
He was out to most of the school, and nobody really cared. He had dated boys and girls in the past, and then he was dating me. When I came out to him as bisexual, he was super supportive. Of course he was. It felt scary to say I’m bisexual even to a fellow bisexual who, at the time, loved me very much.
After that, it was still pretty smooth sailing. I came out to my mum in the car and she asked me what it meant. After I told her, she told me that she loved me and that she would relay the information on to my dad. The next time I came out was the second day of my first year at uni. One of the other girls in my dorm, now one of my best friends, shouted “me too!” and high-fived me.
However, I’ve often labelled my experience coming out as ‘quiet acceptance’. As a bisexual, it’s very easy for people to dismiss that part of me – that I like people who identify as girls as well as people who identify as boys because hey, I can happily have banter with my parents about finding a husband and giving them grandchildren. I can genuinely drool over male celebrities with my straight, female friends. I can chat with my one bisexual friend (who is currently planning her wedding to a man) about love and marriage traditions. I don’t feel like I’m faking it, but it’s the ‘quiet acceptance’ that often makes me doubt the people around me and how they feel about me.
Honestly, there are not a lot of characters I relate to, whether they’re women, depressed, or bisexual, I find it difficult to truly see myself in characters. And hey, that doesn’t mean I want less bisexual female characters; I love reading about them and some of my favourite characters are bisexual men and women.
I’ve never felt my situation was understood until I read Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. Autoboyography is, in short, about two boys who fall in love during a creative writing class. One boy is bisexual and one is coming to terms with the fact that he’s gay. Tanner is our main character, and he’s out as bisexual to his family. He’s recently moved to Utah, and while he was completely out to all his friends back in San Francisco, he’s not yet made that move in Utah.
Why? Because his mum doesn’t think it’s a good idea.
When I first read this, my heart sunk. Tanner’s parents accepted him, but to me (and to Tanner), it was quiet acceptance. While he had their verbal acceptance and even their pride, wearing rainbow flag aprons and collecting gay pride bumper stickers, there is always a part of him that worries what his parents might think if he actually came home with a boy. It’s the same with his friends; he may not be out to them, but he fears what might happen if he was. I am out to my friends and to my parents, but to be honest, I rarely mention it, because it’s not really that easy to bring up unless I really push for it to be talked about which, come on, who likes talking about their queerness surrounded by a bunch of straight people? I’ve also had instances when my folks have asked that I don’t bring up my sexuality in front of grandparents. A part of me knows it’s because they probably won’t be accepting and so my parents want to protect me, the same way Tanner’s mum does. But the other part is wondering is it because my folks don’t want it to be a whole thing? Would it be a nuisance? So I end up not wanting to talk about it at all in front of them, not even the boy-attraction parts.
While I was jumping for joy at seeing a bisexual character actually experiencing this quiet acceptance that I feel, it made me feel kinda sad. It made me reflect on my experiences, and how quiet acceptance is not full acceptance. I will always have that worry about how people would react if I started dating a girl. Would my parents not take our relationship seriously? Would my friends not want to talk about her or even invite her to parties/days out even though their boyfriends would be there? It’s just a bridge I’m gonna have to cross when I come to it I guess. For now, the only pro-active thing I feel like I should do is get more queer friends because let’s be honest, would I feel this way if I had more than one queer friend?
But I want to say thank you to Autoboyography and to Christina and Lauren (I know! They’re two people!) for understanding bisexual struggles so intrinsically, and not falling into the many stereotypes that bisexuality unfortunately has.