Ask A Queer Chick: Spoke Too Soon
Hi everyone! Praise be to Queen Latifah, it’s finally April. I was kind of afraid we were just going to have to do March over again until we got it right. It’s nice to have proof that time is still moving (slowly, slowly, painfully slowly) in a direction that vaguely approximates forward.
I feel strange about continuing to write this column under our current circumstances, but none of our hearts have a pause button. We have to keep figuring shit out together, no matter how wild things get in the outside world. It’s especially important to nourish our connections at a time when the LGBTQ community is scattered and, in many cases, physically isolated. Reach out if you need support, and remember that we’re going through this together, even though we can’t touch.
I accidentally came out to my class at school by introducing myself and my friend quickly going “and she’s bisexual” to the whole class. I’ve mentioned to my close friends that I’m interested in girls and would consider myself bicurious, but I’m in a straight relationship and have no interest in breaking up. I love my boyfriend dearly. After my friend told my whole class, I feel embarrassed that I even said anything because I'm not 100% sure. I have kissed girls and enjoyed it, but I don’t think I felt comfortable with my friend outing me like she did. Does it matter that I’m bisexual if I’m dating a boy? If I’m not bisexual, how do I go about telling people that I’m not? I feel so embarrassed.
Oh my goodness, I am so sorry that happened. Your friend is the one who should be embarrassed, since she’s the one who made the thoughtless, insensitive, and utterly inappropriate decision to out you. I know this wasn’t the point of your letter, but I hope you’ve expressed to her how deeply unwelcome that action was. She owes you, at the very least, a heartfelt apology. And everyone owes it to everyone not to make announcements about another person’s orientation. Let me explain this the way I explain hitting to my toddler: We don’t out people. Outing hurts.
You have done nothing wrong and need not for even a moment explain yourself. It’s okay to be open to the idea of dating a girl while currently being happy dating a boy; it’s okay to think you might be bisexual but feel no urgency to explore it. It was in no way presumptuous or premature to share your curiosity with your friends, and it doesn’t obligate you to justify your orientation to a room full of people. It doesn’t sound like your possible bisexuality is causing you much angst on its own, and I’m so frustrated on your behalf that this is something you’re being pushed to deal with by someone else’s terrible behavior.
Apart from addressing the serious boundary violation by your friend, though, I don’t think you can or should do much about this. Your sexuality is your business. If you conclude that you’re not actually bisexual, that’s between you and whoever you might wish to date. You don’t have to retract your friend’s unwanted coming-out on your behalf. If your classmates have sense, they should understand that she spoke out of turn and not take it as a definitive statement about you. But for those (hopefully few) who take her words to heart, going out of your way to correct them will probably just result in more frustration and awkwardness. (I am reminded of the time in tenth grade when a friend of mine, in a well-intentioned attempt to quash a rumor, announced to a classroom full of people that “Lindsay Miller is NOT PREGNANT!” Would you believe that didn’t actually help?)
Remember that you are not responsible for, nor do you control, what other people think about you. Throughout your life people will develop misconceptions, some benign and some hurtful, and it will always suck to be misunderstood, but you just can’t spend all your time and energy correcting them. It is a difficult practice to let other people be wrong, but the more you can embrace it, the less stressful your life will be.
I’m 25 years old and have been with my boyfriend since I was 18. Our relationship has never been easy. My boyfriend suffers from severe body dysmorphia and struggles with depression. I’m busy all the time with school and work. Our sex life has always been a problem for me. We have good sex maybe once or twice a year and often go 3 or 4 months without any. I find myself masturbating nearly everyday to make up for it.
A year ago my friend who is an out lesbian came to visit me and we got drunk on the river. We’ve always had a deep connection and I can’t say I’ve never thought about her in that way. We didn’t get too far and we decided to act as though it didn’t happen, since we were both in relationships at the time. It was incredible, though. I haven’t felt that way in ages.
Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more suffocated. My boyfriend and I fight a lot but we have so many good times as well. He’s my best friend, and I don’t want to lose him. I feel like I’m bisexual but I don’t know. I haven’t really tried anything and I was so young when we first got together. I love him and I can see myself marrying him but I wonder if I’ll ever be truly content and happy. He’s had a lot of family issues and he puts a lot of pressure on me to be his therapist almost. I feel like if I break up with him it will crush him and I could lose the one person I really love in my life. But, I feel like if I continue to force this I’m just lying to myself.
Do I wait until our lives have calmed down a bit and I can tell if this is really going to work? What if I leave him and never find anything as good? I’m terrified of the uncertainty, besides the fact that my father will completely disown me. What if he tries to kill himself if I break up with him? I’m not scared of being with a woman but I don’t know the first thing about being single and I’m bad at being alone.
The good news--really, the best news I can give you, and the news most of us need right now--is that you can get better at being alone. It’s just like any skill: the more you practice, the easier it gets. And sweetheart, I think you need to start practicing.
Your current situation is not working for you. You’re unsatisfied and stifled and resentful; you’ve cheated once, and you will again, unless you make some big changes. Nothing is keeping you in place but fear: fear of loneliness, fear of hurting your boyfriend. You make vague rhetorical gestures toward “good times” together, but the bad times are much clearer and more specific, which means they’re larger in your mind. You are deeply unhappy in this relationship, and the longer you stay, the more likely you are to bring everything crashing down around you. You cannot be your boyfriend’s therapist; you cannot be his bulwark against suffering.
You talk about waiting for life to calm down to assess whether you two have a future, but life seldom calms down even when you expect it to. (See: literally everything.) The chaos, the surprises, the scrambling to keep it all together--that’s not a sidebar, that is your life. Wanting to be with someone in a hypothetical perfect future, where nothing is stressful or unexpected, has very little bearing on the feasibility of a real-world partnership. Your significant other should be someone you can reach for in scary times; they should be the person you look at and think This fucking sucks, but at least we’re together. It doesn’t sound like your boyfriend is that person for you. And if you haven’t found that person yet, it’s better and healthier to be alone.
You’ll note that I’ve barely touched on the question of whether you’re bisexual, and that’s because it’s not really relevant to whether you should leave your boyfriend, which you should. If you want to date girls after that, absolutely go for it. But don’t leave your boyfriend for your lesbian bestie, or any other woman. Leave your boyfriend for yourself.
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