Two more coming out stories, and neatly labeled too.
1: In which being blindsided turns out to be less unpleasant than one would expect
A week or so ago I told a friend of mine about being poly and bi. She’s very queer-friendly so I wasn’t worried about her reaction to my being bisexual, but from past conversations I’d gathered that she might not be terrible approving of the whole poly thing and I’d had some concerns about how she might react. She, along with a few other friends, have a tendency to use H and me as a sort of benchmark for relationships because apparently we’re ‘just so perfect’. I know they mean to be complimentary, but that sort of thing makes me feel stifled. Pedestals don’t really allow for much wiggle room, you know? Just because H and I have a great relationship doesn’t mean we didn’t or don’t have to work at it , nor does it mean that we don’t have a lot to learn and a lot further to go yet. (Plus I’ve never been able to shake that cheery little line from Oedipus at Colonus: “Count no man happy until he is dead.”)
Anyway, I decided to tell her about being bisexual first because I figured that would be the easy one. It was. I wrote a story a while ago that involved a very mild sex scene between two women and she said she’d had her suspicions since then. No big deal. Then she asked what I intended to do about it, why I wanted to come out, etc., so that allowed me to segue nicely into polyamory and my own current arrangement. That got a tiny reaction, but only a tiny one – as usual, the mention of other partners led into the usual series of questions:
- is H seeing anyone? How does he feel about your other partners?
- How do you get/manage time?
- Who are these people and how involved are you with them?
- Are you happy?
I’m actually a little surprised that I haven’t got set answers yet. Perhaps that’s because at the moment I’m still telling people I care about and so want to tailor my responses to what they need to hear most or first. They all end up with the same information in the end, really – they just get it in whatever order suits them.
The upshot was the standard, “if you’re happy, I’m happy for you.” And then she threw me a curve ball. She asked where on the sexuality spectrum I would place myself, to which I responded – and this is something I’ve been working out slowly over the past few months – that I am mainly attracted to and interested in women but willing to make exceptions for some men. “Hm,” she said. “Me too.”
And then I wasn’t all that shocked. It’s weird when, in the face of new information that at first blush seems like it should be surprising, you find that no, actually, you’re not that surprised at all, and that, in fact, things suddenly seem to have slipped into sharper focus. Anyway, the rest of it is her story so I won’t share that here, but we both left that conversation a lot lighter and a lot closer.
2: In which I effectively turn ten years on their head
Yesterday, I was chatting with a friend I haven’t seen in ages but who, like quite a few people I haven’t seen in ages, means a lot to me. I hadn’t had a conversation with her for a while and I knew she’d had a lot on her plate, so I’d left off the revelations for the time being. Now that we were talking, and since she’d asked how things, including my marriage, were going, I thought I’d come out with it.
Before I get further into this, a bit of background: We’ve known each other since college, and have always had a very close but also very antagonistic relationship. I’ve always disagreed with the concept of marriage, have never wanted children, have been unwilling to compromise myself or my future for the sake of a relationship, etc. Now she’s never disagreed, exactly, but she’s always questioned whether it was possible to ‘be like that’ and survive. My getting married was her biggest ‘victory’, proof that ‘my way’ was untenable, etc. But for all her crowing, she’s always been genuinely concerned about how the hell I was going to deal with being married since she knew I hadn’t actually changed my mind about marriage. I will also point out that she has technically turned out the be an even better example of ‘my way’ than I have. I also trust her completely – we’ve kept each other’s secrets for ten years now and I fully expect that to continue, regardless of how close or distant our relationship gets.
So you can understand why she’d ask about ‘the marriage’ and you can understand why I’d tell her. For her, I started out by telling her I had a girlfriend and that H was cool with it. As it happened, she’d been researching polyamory because a mutual friend had been involved with someone who cried poly whenever she wanted to get more serious (but that’s a rant for another day), so I didn’t have to explain much. What got her was the bisexuality because she said that while she thought I might be ‘open to experimentation’, that she’d always considered me absolutely hetero. Given my track record – and my silence – that isn’t terribly shocking. Still, she was very supportive and accepting and, when I said that I’d been a bit afraid she wouldn’t approve, demanded, in her tongue-in-cheek manner, exactly which judgmental friend I had her confused with. Hmph.
She’ll come back with more questions as it sinks in, I think, because while she’s taken the poly side of things in her stride, there’s about ten years’ worth of stuff that my coming out as bi and my admission that I have pretty much always been more attracted to women than to men might re-color. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get too negative.
3: A conclusion that isn’t
So that’s 8 people at last count. Eight people I care about who know that I am bi and poly after years of assuming that I was straight and monogamous. And so far, all of them have responded with kindness, with acceptance and with some degree of curiosity about poly. And, with any luck, it’ll be nine tomorrow evening. I’m not too sure how to handle this one because normally I’ve spoken to people one on one. This time, I’ll be out with two friends, one of whom I came out to a while ago. I would have told the other friend earlier, but it seemed a bit weird to do it over email and the last time I saw her was with an even bigger group. Still, it’s important to me that she know, because, even though it makes no material difference to her life, she’s someone who generally understands where I’m coming from – or at least makes an effort to – and I think this is too big a part of who I am to leave out. It’s funny too because I thought I would have told her before I told our other friend, but that’s lousy scheduling for you. Maybe I’ll have to resort to email after all. If, that is, I want her to know before I see her, which is beginning to feel increasingly important.