Four years ago today, I first came out as bisexual. I was scared of what my friends and my family would say when and if I told them, and afraid of what the world would now be like for me now that I was part of a community that has faced decades of oppression. I thought I was alone and that no one could understand what I was going through.
Some four years on, I can honestly say I have never felt more comfortable with my sexuality. I have grown the confidence to join, and even become an officer in, my university’s LGBTQ+ society, I have met great people who identify the same way as me and even taken part in Brighton’s LGBT pride parade. In addition, I have been able to see same-sex marriage legalised in my country, so all people can marry the person they love.
That is not to say that my time out of the closet has always been plain sailing. The time after I came out as bisexual was somewhat troublesome. As bisexuality isn’t as well understood as being gay or straight, I had to put up with people who suggested that I was merely using this as a stepping stone to coming out as gay later on, or that my sexuality would be determined by them based on what the gender of the person I choose to have a relationship with. This is not to mention one person in particular who insisted on calling me a fag. I realise now that neither myself or my sexual orientation were the problem that caused this upset – it was intolerance and a misunderstanding of what it means to be bisexual.
I have been incredibly lucky in my story that I have had a wealth of friends and family to lean on in bad times, celebrate with in good times and who accept me for who I am. For many people across this country and across the world, that is not the case, and I long for the day when everyone accepts everyone else’s diversity and difference without issue. Unfortunately, that day seems a while away at the very least.
As I have previously discussed, continuing attacks on LGBT people, whether in the form of physical attacks such as the shooting in Orlando last year, or on the airwaves with politicians claiming that we are claiming ‘extra rights’ that we don’t deserve, the struggle for true equality goes on. And with Donald Trump and his cabinet of intolerance and homophobia just days away from entering the White House, LGBT people need to speak out and fight for their rights more than ever. Complacency is not an option when we continue to deal with people who insist that being LGBT can be somehow cured and that moves to allow equality threaten the livelihoods of children or are discriminatory to straight people.
My 17-year-old self would have been astonished at how my life has changed for the better since coming out. My only wish is that others like me are able to do the same, if they can, and know that there is a whole community of people who feel just the same and are there to support them.