(Ask Sami) “How do I come out as a bi guy?”

Dear Sami,

As a bisexual man I frequently find myself at a bit of a loss in terms of how to identify myself to women I find attractive and might be interested in dating. Is there any way to avoid the “secretly gay” auto-dismissal?

Side question: how do you view the ethics of when to come out in this sort of situation? Being straight-forward (pun intended) is a recipe for being branded “best gay friend.” On the other hand, coming out later is taken as “deceptive creep.” Is there a way to be proud of who I am and still get a date?

xoxo,

A bi guy

Central San Diego

I reached out to a couple of my bi guy friends to help me answer your question. While I’ve used bisexual as a label in my past, the stigma for men and women are completely different flavors, as I’m sure you know. (Instead of being dismissed as secretly gay, I was just assumed to be mostly straight).

One friend prefers to be more strategic. He knows outing himself will change the nature of his interactions. Another said he likes to get it out there as soon as possible, because he wants to rule out bigots right away. Of course, the latter was talking about telling women during a first or second date, when he typically meets new women (usually from okCupid) — and he would presumably be past the point of gay-best-friendzoned. If you’re establishing yourself in a new friend group (with potentially datable women) who don’t know about your particulars, that’s different, too.

Ethically-speaking, it’s nobody’s goddamned business. Yeah, it’s shady to hide your past from a partner when things are getting serious, and it’s not a good way to build trust. Still, you should not be accused of being a deceptive creep just because you kept private things private. I think you should treat your past experiences with men the same as with women — if you’re bringing up the latter, then bring up the former, but don’t feel obligated to do so sooner.

Another point to consider: how you present information totally changes the reaction to it. The more you can coach yourself into showing your bi side as 1. not a big deal (which, besides being important to you and something to be proud of, it isn’t) 2. something you’d expect people to be understanding of (because they should) and 3. something that’s not going to be a problem (why would it be?)… then the more often your dates/new friends will take your social cues and react in kind. Look, it’s not your fault if bigoted people gave you some touchy hangups about your sexual identity, but it is your responsibility not to unload your baggage onto an unsuspecting love interest. Unless, of course, she’s a bigot and she deserves it.

Ultimately, I don’t think the paradigm of “am I doing the right thing?” is as helpful as coming at it from the perspective of, “what makes me feel best about myself?” My first guy friend is a little more private and starts his relationships more casual. When it comes time, he’ll unabashedly be himself, but he feels no shame for not bringing it up sooner. To him, it’s just not relevant until he feels it is. Maybe she has to earn his trust first. So, he feels fine about his strategy. My other guy friend is the type who is helplessly honest. It would be really weird for him not to share this part of himself. So, he’s happy with sharing as soon as possible.

You’ll figure this out. In the meantime, nothing replaces the support of a strong friend network filled with people who know the real you and get you. I have that. It takes a lot of the worry away about how my sexuality is perceived, and makes me incredibly happy. Find your people. That’s the mandate of this city.


 

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(Ask Sami) Blanking on Bowie Blues

Am I the only one who has no interest in David Bowie’s passing away?

Normal Heights

Short answer: I don’t know.

In the rows and piles of my father’s records, sometime in high school, I found Bowie. Maybe because of the many space references (and I was an alien princess), I instantly and always loved his music. I loved him among other rockstars, some dead. some living. I had no context, knew the music only by the words on the cover and its image. To this day, I prefer to listen to albums (and hand-picked playlists: the modern mixtape) over “discover new” or “radio” algorithms.

I did not share my peers’ fluency in the lives of their music favorites — the factoids of band member names, origins, relationships, birthdays. I have no mind for trivia, and cared to memorize only the lyrics by playing albums on repeat. I imagined I could discover traces of the artists in the order they arranged their songs, and listened for an arc of plot, a climax, a theme. To this day, I barely grasp the names of all the members of my favorite band — such a feat is not in my programming. It’s not how I enjoy music.

So, within this context (and being an alien with a poor grasp on reality), I assumed David Bowie was already dead. I mean, Kurt Cobain was dead and his band was my first rock favorite (circa 7th-9th grade). I think I discovered Bowie was still alive not sooner than three years ago. He has already been a Lazarus. Losing him again feels not piercing, but familiar.

There’s also my disinterest in celebrity culture. I enjoy the artwork, the content, the entertainment created by these cultural paragons — but they are not my friends. I’ve never spoken to them. I don’t want to simulate familiarity by learning about their breakups, their pet interests, their lineage. I’m interested in their stories insofar as they relate to their art, and no more.

So, while I understand a desire to be part of a greater narrative — to follow closely specific exalted beings and share emotional paths with strangers, acquaintances, the whole fucking world — my participation is hesitant. I can (and do) cry over tragedies, but he died of a terminal illness surrounded by loved ones at age 69. I don’t begrudge those that held him closer to their hearts a right to their own grief, but sometimes I feel like I don’t get it. I think that’s okay.

I see Bowie’s passing as a time for his significance to resurface in the common conversation. (I love this.) I re-listened to all of Station to Station and Ziggy Stardust and the tracks Space Oddity, Heroes, and Rebel Rebel (which my friend John sang to me on my birthday last month on a karaoke night at Redwing). I’ve enjoyed this occasion to revisit Bowie. I can celebrate, reflect, but I haven’t shed a tear. And I think that’s okay.

You appear to be even further removed than I am.

That’s probably okay.


 

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