As a child in the 1980s and ’90s, it was made clear to me by the media that to be anything other than straight was not normal and was not desirable. I remember Justin Fashanu coming out – and I remember his own brother saying he wouldn’t want to be in a changing room with him any more. It was pretty clear that gay was not OK. (I didn’t know at this point that there were any other options beyond gay or straight).
When I was an older teenager, in the mid-late 90s, I started to become aware of a more complex conversation about sexualities, and also about changing attitudes towards it. I already knew that I liked boys, so I thought I was straight and that my feelings of admiring girls were “normal” and how every other girl felt. I started to become aware of “bisexual” as a term and wondered if that would fit me better, but I thought no, I’ve always identified as straight, why wouldn’t I be straight?
I was well into my 20s by the time I realised that straight wasn’t the word I was looking for. My mum realised it before I did, and she was the first person I came out to…kind of. My first marriage had ended and she was reassuring me that I could bring anyone home to meet her and my dad. Anyone. At all. Even if it wasn’t the kind of person they were expecting. I eventually realised what she was getting out, and told her I wasn’t gay. We never got to the other part of that conversation (…but I’m not straight either) before she died.
I never really came out to the rest of my family, I just started talking fairly openly about being “not-gay” until they got the point, and likewise with my friends. I don’t consider myself closeted anywhere, but I don’t exactly go around telling everyone that I’m queer either. I do have a bi pride bracelet that I wear all the time (partly in the hope that it might spark a coming out conversation…it’s never happened yet, sadly) but, being (re-) married to a man, I am invisibly bisexual. I am involved in the LGBT staff support group at work and trying to use that to particularly further the conversation around people who fall under the B and T areas of the LGBT umbrella and might be less obvious and visible than lesbians and gay men.
So, long story short…I first came out as “not gay” and have since upgraded to openly bi but by being open about it rather than by manufacturing coming out conversations…which can often lead to me being invisibly bi.