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Invisibility and awkward moments

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is sort of a weird question, and it is aimed only at people in my particular situation - bi, married to a man, monogamous...but of course anyone may reply!

I usually tell new friends fairly qiuickly that I am bi - usually as soon as any discussion of sexual identity comes up. And it does come up right away, often in very trivial ways - you know, the friend will say, "Oh, I just have to go see such and such movie because (insert male hunky actor's name here) is sooo cute," and I'm thinking, "Yeah, I want to go drool over him AND even more over (insert gorgeous female actor's name here)," and I don't like to censor myself, because that's like going back in the closet. So it comes up.

But I'm never sure about those awkward group situations in which there is a discussion going on between a few people including myself, and all the people are acquaintances but not really friends, and certain subjects come up...here's a recent example:

DD was invited to a group playdate after school and the moms hung around in the kitchen chatting while the kids played. One mom started discussing all the gay marriage stuff in the news and, while I was relieved that everyone else was in support of it, I felt awkward because what I really want to say is, "This is a personal issue for me, because I'm bi, so I identify with the gay and lesbian community," and I don't say it. I'm not in any way embarrassed or ashamed, but it just feels a little weird to be in a group of straight suburban soccer moms and blurt out something like that, KWIM? Especially because I am married to a man, and there are so many people who just don't get how I can really be bi...it just opens up a whole lot of questions, which of course they would never ask because they just don't know me that well.

Am I making any sense? Am I doing something awful by censoring myself? Sometimes it feels awful, but I can't even imagine what the silence would sound like afterwards if I did say something like that in a group...:
post #2 of 15
oh boy can I relate to your post. I censer myself too, but that is mainly because I'm not very out. Only a few people know. I'm also married to a man and monogomous. I haven't mastered the ackward moment of outing myself. I have a couple bi friends and they are all married so I can be myself with them. But aquaintences, no family, no (except for dh).

Is it awful?? I think that is a personal decision.

On the one hand I do wish I could be totally out, on the other hand I'm just not ready. Maybe I will be one day. I don't know.
post #3 of 15
I'm unmarried to my wonderful male partner of 8.5 years and we are having our first baby next spring. My younger sister came out as lsebian over 6 years ago, and although I have never identified myself as bi, I can imagine myself making a comment just like yours, Luna (drooling over insert female actress in some movie). I might get funny looks, but if someone is not able to address an issue they have with me WITH ME personally, then I'm not sure I could ever consider them a true friend.

Given that, I also respect my sister's decision to not share her coming out with our extended family in eastern Europe. We visit them often (every few years) and my mom is quite close with her first cousins since they were raised almost as brothers and sisters. Although we are fluent in the language, the issues that it might raise are difficult enough to deal with in her native language, let alone adding in the translation factor. It could become a very metaphorical conversation.

And I also have to respect my mom's decision to wait in telling her friends and co-workers about our baby. I do live 3,000 miles away, so it's not that hard, but she has her reasons.

I guess I would ask you these questions: why do you assume that your comment would bring a silent pause? Are you concerned for how these moms would treat your daughter knowing you are bi? I know my sister cannot stand being judged by a label: does that concern you too? How would the conversation continue after your comment (with silence, without silence, etc.)?

I suppose it all depends on just how traditional these moms' viewpoints are, but you mentioned they seemed pretty supportive of gay marriage. I guess I wonder because if you made a comment, I might just be inclined to agree, and then we might just become friends.

post #4 of 15
I can relate to this, as I am also a married-to-a-man bi woman. I have a rule with myself about not being friends with people who I can be honest with, but there are always issues with this. A mom friend of mine and I were walking back from a playgroup the other day and she was probing into dh and I's relationship, so I ended up telling her that I was bi and she got real quiet. It was weird for me. I am not closeted per se, but it is also not somthing that comes up for me right away very often.

I'd love to hear more about how others deal with this. Thanks for starting a great thread.

post #5 of 15
I'm straight, and married.

Why do you feel you have to/should tell the group of soccer moms? I absolutely don't think that it is something to be hidden or ashamed of, but I also don't think it's their business.

I was fostered, and I consider my foster family my real family, as does anyone who knows me. It is only really close friends that I am open to telling the truth to (and the other 11,000 members here lol), and not because I'm ashamed, but 'cos it's none of their business. Not the same thing, I know, but...
post #6 of 15
Irishmommy, I can only speak for myself. I feel a sense of oh I don't know I guess frustration is the correct word that it's automatically assumed that people are straight. I also feel a sense of frustration that by being married (which is what I want) that it doesn't reflect who I am completely as it's assumed that married = straight. It's almost like most people don't really know me. If they don't know I'm bi, then I feel ( I know it's about me) like I deny who I am in a way.

It may not be applicable but for some reason it reminds me of a time I was shopping not long ago and an older woman that worked at the store I was at made a comment about gays. I was so shocked I didn't know what to say. I was offended too. Part of me really wanted to tell her I was a lesbian (not 100% true but I think explaining bi would have been too much for her, lol) just so maybe she would think about what she said. Instead she assumed that I was straight, and that I agrred with here homophobia. My dh wasn't with me btw.

I don't know, it is something that I have a hard time putting into words. And it's actually very similar to how I feel often about being pagan. So often it's assumed that people are Christian in America and I feel invisible. Same thign with being bi. If I was a lesbian then my choice of partner would make it obvious. But I'm even more invisible as a pagan, married bisexual woman. Straight people are automatically accepted. They are the default standard in the US. No one ever says (as someone posted at MDC once) I don't care what you do as long as I don't have to see it.

post #7 of 15
I agree. While some people I just don't care about knowing, the issues are invisibility, rampant homophobia, and feeling closeted by these two.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Irishmommy, I appreciate your question, and for the sake of brevity I'll just say...yeah, what Arduinna said!

I'll just add: It's not that imy sexual identity is their "business," and I don't look for opportunities to tell people, but there is always that assumption that I am straight, just as there is that assumption that I am Christian. So if people are talking about Christmas, I will point out that I am Jewish...so it's sort of the same thing if people are talking about gay marriage or other GLBT issues.

A lot of people have this tendency to say that sexual identity is a private thing, but it is not - everyone knows straight people are straight. People say, "I don't need to know what goes on in your bedroom," but I'm not telling people about my bedroom. Nobody expects straight people to keep their heterosexuality a secret, which of course they couldn't anyway. When I stop myself from completely being myself and saying what comes to my mind for fear of creating an uncomfortable silence, then it's like keeping one foot in the closet at all times.

Anyway, I have to go and bake cookies for a cookie swap - a weird suburban straight mom ritual I had never heard of before - and I wonder what I will do tonight if the situation arises?
post #9 of 15
I am married to a man... I enjoy women.. It is simply who I am.. I have not told my parents or PIL's.. None of your business stuff, and they are crazy conservative fundie christians.. Would NOT go over well.. I am monogomous with my dh.. That is the vow I took with our marraige, but I do miss women..

Now i have friends, but I do not take lovers.. I guess I am ok with that.. I love my dh to the point of madness, but I still feel as if I am denying who I am in part..

I don't think I have told any of my "mommy" friends know, but most of them are on Mothering, so if they read this.. HI!! now ya know.. It's not a secret, it doesn't come up in conversation.. I also seem to exude hetero vibes because when we do go out.. (the gay bars here have better music) I can be with all my "party" girl friends, and still get hit on by straight men.. If i go out with my dh he gets hit on by men.. :LOL :

Don't know where I am going with this, just that yep.. I know the feelings.. I don't censor myself though.. It comes out in conversatoin or it don't.. (I know that is supposed to be doesn't.. I"m not a red neck or anything.. :LOL ) People will like you or not..

Warm Squishy Feelings..

post #10 of 15
What an interesting topic.

The one regret I have about how my life has gone, is that I never had the chance to explore my sexuality.

I was reading another thread here that talked about being attracted to specific qualities, regardless of gender. I find both genders attractive and could see myself in a lesbian relationship if the woman was right...

As it stands, I am married to a man. Interestingly enough, he put a halt to our relationship at one point (we had been dating for six months), because of an attraction he had to a friend of his (male) and wasn't sure what to do with those feelings. He questioned his sexuality for the first time. For me it was difficult because I had grown so attached to "us" and him, and feared losing him. In the end (and after his feelings were not reciprocated by this friend), he realized he was attracted to to the person, not the gender and felt comfortable persuing our relationship.

I guess none of that directly pertains to the OP, but I think it's important to at least give some background to my answer.

So you're sitting in a room with suburban soccer moms and talking about a hottie in a movie. Your interest in a same-sex actor or whatever sits on your tongue...waiting for expulsion.

I could see this going in a couple of different ways:

1. You say that you also find so-and-so attractive. "I think she is soooo beautiful, don't you?" This brings up your interest in her--which can be dealt with as a superficial fact or a bridge for further discussion. I think its YOUR choice. Everyone would be fine with just talking about the movie and no one was expecting to talk about your sexuality. That being said, if you feel it's important to bring up your sexuality (as a teaching experience, as a attempt to share yourself with others), you really have to establish if it, in that moment, is the right time.

Homophobia is rampent. Change needs to happen. It is up to us to be a catalyst for change but to do so in a way that will provide the MOST impact in a positive way. Making your sexuality the primary topic at soccer practice is up to you; I would prefer to individually address your feelings in a one-on-one setting. I think there will be less group think and more change can happen.

Oh, my baby is crying....that's all I can do for now but I have more to say.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks, indiegirl...and that other thread about gender and attraction is mine, too! Interesting story about your dh - you know, a friend of mine recetnly told me that she read that bi women are very often attracted to men who have "tendencies." I always was, but wound up married to a very heterosexual man, go figure.

Anyway, back on topic - I agree that making my sexuality the focus of the conversation at a lighthearted group gathering is not something I want to do! I think it would feel sort of like the way it feels when you are shouting to be heard over loud music and then the music stops and all that's left is your very loud voice! Ever been there?

So I mostly do what you suggested, which is "come out" to people on a one-on-one basis so I then feel free to say whatever pops into my head when I'm with them.

Still, certain stuff can be weird - in my OP I said that I wasn't talking about situations in which people made negative comments about GLBT people, and I wasn't...but sometimes it's the subtle stuff that makes me feel weird. Like last night at that cookie swap I mentioned above, someone referred to something as "faggy" and it made me itch, KWIM? What would you do in that situation?
post #12 of 15
It is always strange when people are having a converstaion about "them" in front of you without knowing you are one of "them". In that situation I have gone both ways (get it? see what I did there with the humour? okay, maybe not so much...) I have taken a deep breath and said, "Well, actually some of us do that becaues of X but Susie is right also... there are some who do Y" or whatever. I try to make a comment that makes it clear I am a part of whatever they are discussing without saying "I am blank!" because I have never found a way to do the declaration without it stopping conversation short. Other times I simply decide I haven't the energy and I skip it. As long as I am not silent out of fear of their judgement I don't think I am being untrue to myself. I simply don't always feel like being a tour guide to my own life, ya know?

Negative comments, like the faggy thing? I don't let that go past even if I am not a member of the slandered group. I try not to be confrontational to the degree that people just slam up walls. I would just quietly say, so that person could hear and no others, if possible, "That's really not a nice thing to say/ word to use." And give them a gentle look, right in the eyes.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
In that situation I have gone both ways (get it? see what I did there with the humour? okay, maybe not so much...)

You made me smile!!!
post #14 of 15
Originally posted by kama'aina mama
As long as I am not silent out of fear of their judgement I don't think I am being untrue to myself. I simply don't always feel like being a tour guide to my own life, ya know?
I totally hear this and often do the same. But, the thing I take issue with is the times when I am not sure if it is fear that makes me silent - fear that conversation will stop, that people will wonder, etc. Certianly among many people I feel totally open and comfortable, but among others it feels odd that they don't know and yet I am not sure how I would say it. Being married to a man with and child makes many people assume you are straight and I hate that this type of heteronormativity doesn't get disrupted more often. I understand the NO TOUR GUIDE desire but at the smae time I sometimes feel like if not me, then who? If someone doesn't disrupt this assumption, then people will keep on assuming my identity into invisibility.

And, I want to note that this isn't just among straight people, lots of LGTQ people make these assumptions as well and that can sometimes make me feel like an outsider (the not-so-queer B in LGBT). Among many, B only counts if is homoerotic and when it isn't, it is no longer queer.

Okay, enough for now.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Megan, thank you for that word, "heteronormativity." What a great word - I'll be using that one a lot, I think!
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