In a perfect world, the “closet” wouldn't even exist because everyone's sexual orientation would be casually out in the open, upfront and universally accepted. The reality, of course, is still miles away from this ideal.
Although media visibility has introduced us to the concept of “gaydar” and a collective idea of what traits trigger it, you really CAN’T tell if someone is straight, gay, or bi just by looking at them, (rainbow badges and “I’m Here, I’m Queer” t-shirts aside). This has made it easy for people to lie outright about their sexuality, or just quietly pass as the default “straight” — as long as nobody suggests otherwise.
The advantage seems obvious— invisibility provides a comfort zone within which one can hide from prejudice in ways visible minorities cannot. Invisibility, however, is also paradoxically to blame for the continued existence of unchallenged homophobia. The thousands of non-straight people who live their lives under the radar add to the impression that alternative sexual orientations belong to a minority small enough to be easily dismissed as deviant.
Because, unlike skin colour or gender, sexual orientation is neither physically apparent nor present immediately at birth, even people who will look upon racists with disgust can still justify other forms of bigotry by convincing themselves that sexuality is a choice, or that it was an acquired perversion due to something that happened to the person.
Throughout history and even today, those who fear persecution or are subject to persistent questioning of their sexual orientation, have resorted to more elaborate charades in the attempt to prove to others that they are straight. Sham relationships and marriages and having children with a person they aren’t really attracted to, these actions help build the elaborate façade they feel is needed to mask their same-sex attraction. For gay people who would choose a real relationship rather than live a charade, disclosure is then required—at the very least, they’ve got to be “out” to each other. Whichever way they go, a relationship means a forced decision — pretend or disclose?
For a bisexual person to enter a relationship with a straight person, however, neither pretending nor disclosure is necessary, leaving the question unasked and therefore unanswered. Whether or not you choose to disclose your bisexuality openly is a very personal matter, and cannot fairly be subject to the judgment of those who aren’t aware of your specific circumstances. However, when it comes to the subject of disclosure to someone with whom you’ve entered (or hope to build) a serious relationship, being upfront about your bisexuality is crucial, for the short- and long-term benefit of both of you. Hear that? That’s the sound of all those alarm bells going off, joyfully ringing out “THREESOMES!” in the minds of many readers out there. Keep those pants on (for just a sec longer, though—sex should be about fun and fantasies) —here’s how to walk so you can run to your heart’s content later on…you’ll trip if you start with your pants down to your ankles.
It can be a difficult and confusing road for both partners in a relationship where one has taken the big step and revealed their bisexual inclinations to the other. Working together and communicating openly is crucial at every stage of this process, and don’t rush ahead until both sides know they’ve been heard. If one of you is struggling or reluctant, this will hopefully provide a framework for navigating the subject in the most helpful way.
to be continued...