There are a lot of ways to come out: You could write a letter, announce it at a family gathering, or say it with cake. I prefer the ding-dong-ditch method. I drop a bit of sexual identity adjacent information, and look at the floor, waiting for my much more straightforward friends to be direct in a way that I can't.
"I went to a speed dating thing, and I really clicked with a few of the women," I’ll say over dinner. "There was this one woman in particular who I really hope I match with."
"Oh, I didn't know you're bi," they'll say, and I'll nod, playing it casual, like I totally forgot I hadn't mentioned it to them.
But all the while, I’m worrying that some kind of LGBT police is going to materialize and label me a fraud. At 26, I've slept with exactly zero women, and I've kissed — again — zero women. I've had more sexual contact with creepers in a jammed subway car than a female romantic partner.
There are other numbers to consider, of course. I was 17 when I first told my best friend and my then-boyfriend I was attracted to men and women. This was years before I could name a fictional character who identified as bi. I've been to two queer speed dating sessions. I've had a dozen crushes, with five developing into ask-them-out plans. None of these were ever executed, because I'm good at mumbling and bad at eye contact, and these traits don’t lend themselves well to date propositions.
Still, I can’t help but feel that I lack a certain bisexual street cred. Whenever I publicly identify as bi, I sense a side-eyed response that's probably all in my head, but feels intensely real. More than that, I feel like my lack of experience will let down every bisexual woman I attempt to ask out, and that I'll be used as proof to skeptics who think that all people who identify as bi are just making it up.
Larry King summarized the bisexuality bias when he called Anna Paquin a “non-practicing bisexual” after she told him that she considers herself bi, even though she’s married to a man. But the thing is, King’s remark doesn’t consider that sexuality isn’t defined by the act of sex; I’ve learned that it’s about attraction. We don’t seem to demand this type of proof from heterosexuals — otherwise, every virgin on the planet would lack a sexual orientation altogether.
But what I'm most nervous about isn't the judgement of the people like King who don't get it; I’m much more concerned with the people who do. Will any queer woman I finally gain the courage to ask out look at my bisexual resume and decide I have insufficient references? In the end, I won’t know until I try.
Last weekend, knowing that this essay would be published and my mother might stumble upon it, I came out to her, haltingly, peppering the statement with so many, "It's no big deals." I was momentarily afraid that the actual confession might have been lost. She was supportive, briefly probing into my history with women. Realizing just how uncluttered that history is, she slipped into the same sympathetic expression she wore when I shared a story of a blind date gone wrong.
"Don't worry," she said, "You'll find someone."
And for a minute, all the anxieties about my bisexual résumé were gone, and I simply smiled — I believed her.