Yesterday started like any other day, until my kids noticed the square package sitting near our front door. When I opened it to reveal a huge Pride flag, they asked, "What's that?" My oldest answered, "It’s a Pride flag, to show support for the LGBTQ+ community." My younger kids, on the other hand, continued to look confused. And it was in that moment, in the midst of their confusion, that I decided to come out to my kids.
"I’m bisexual," I said, "For me, that means I am attracted to people of all genders, not just men." As soon as the words left my mouth I prepared for their, what I assumed to be, inevitable shock. At the very least, I prepared for them to question why I had never mentioned anything to them before. Instead, the toddler picked up our Pride flag and held it like a brightly colored security blanket. Meanwhile, my middle children asked, “Well, what’s for lunch? And can we have screen time?”
For my children, finding out their mom was bisexual wasn't a big deal at all.
My oldest, now 13, did have a few questions, though. She asked me how long I’ve known, and how I grew to realize this part about myself. I told her I’ve always known, but didn’t really come out to anyone until I was in college. She told me about her friends at school who identify as bisexual, pansexual, and gay, and in the end we enjoyed what was probably the best conversation we've ever shared.
Yesterday started like any other day, and it ended like any other day, too. And now I can say that I am so relieved, and so glad, that I finally came out to my kids, and for the following reasons:
Because I Don't Want Them To Think Heterosexuality Is The Default
When you're living in a culture and a community that seems to assume that everyone is straight, cis-gender, and compliant with traditional gender roles, it can be hard to convince your kids otherwise. But I don’t want to raise my kids that way. So, even though their mom is married to a man, I want them to know that my bisexuality is valid and an important part of my identity.
Because I Want Them To Be Inclusive
I hope that my kids grow up knowing that it's OK for people to be who they are and have whatever sexuality or gender identity they have, without judgement or shame. I try to introduce them to people from all different backgrounds, races, religions, and yes, sexualities and gender identities. If knowing that their mom is bisexual helps them gain a basic understanding of humanity, and an appreciation for the spectrum of human identities and experiences, than it's worth a potentially awkward conversation.
Because I Don't Want To Lie To Them
I try to always be honest with my kids. I also make it a point to be respectful of their need to learn about the world, and about themselves, in a safe home and with the knowledge that I will be truthful, even when that truth totally sucks. I want to be honest with them about who I am, even though I am married to their dad and not planning to be in another relationship.
My relationship doesn't erase my identity, and my identity doesn't change the status of my relationship.
Because They Have Questions
My teenager and tween have about a million questions for me about my sexuality — some I will happily answer, and others that are not really any of their business. As they grow and enter the period of their lives when they start to think about sex and relationships, I want them to know that I'm here to be an unbiased and unabashedly queer source of answers.
Because They Have LGBTQ+ Friends
I have many friends who are also members of the LGBTQ+ community, and so do my kids. When chatting with my daughter, I learned that some of her friends and classmates are not out at school or at home about their sexuality and/or gender identity. We live in a tiny town, in a rural, red state, so I, sadly, wasn’t surprised. I was, however, reminded of how important it is for my kids, and their friends, to know that our home is a safe place.
Because I Want Them To Trust Me
I want — I need — my children to know that I will always love them, no matter what. I don't ever want my kids to be afraid to tell me something, or feel the way I felt when I was too afraid to come out to my parents. In coming out to my children, I set an example that I hope they'll follow: we can tell each other anything.
Because I Don't Want To Contribute To Bi-Erasure
While most of my friends identify as LGBTQ+, many of my bisexual friends just don't talk about it. As reported by PinkNews, bisexual people represent the fastest growing group of LGBT people in the country, with 1 percent of the U.S. identifying as bisexual. That seems huge, but I've often felt alone in my bisexuality; ignored because I'm married to a cis man; excluded because I have the privilege to appear straight or assumed straight. But my bisexuality wasn't just a college phase, it's part of who I am. And it's important to me that my children know who I am.
Because It's About Time
As I told my daughter, I've been bisexual my whole life, and came out over two decades ago in college. In the end, it was simply time I tell my kids.
Because I'm Not Ashamed
I am not ashamed to be bisexual, and I am so glad I told my kids. Not just for me, but for all of the other bisexual parents out there, who go through the motions of their daily routine without telling anyone about their sexuality.
Now I can proudly fly my Pride flag, so that the other LGBTQ folx who see it know that my home, where I'm raising my children, is a safe place.