This morning as I was trying to write a post for The Mary Sue about Ellen Page’s speech at the HRC event where she came out, I broke down in tears. I went in to the bedroom where Paul was lounging and curled up with him and he asked me what was wrong.
Still crying, I explained the post I was writing and her amazing, inspirational speech that clearly was an incredibly nervewracking experience where she talks about wanting to live authentically and stop lying by omission, and said “and as I attempt to write about it I can’t help but feel like I’m lying.”
He of course knew immediately what I was referring to, as he’s known since the second day of our relationship that I’m bisexual.
His response today, as it has always been, was “however you want to handle this, I’ll support you.”
So, yeah. I’m bi. I’m not a confused straight girl or a confused lesbian. I’ve known who I am for 12 years and I’ve had feelings for other girls and for boys since I was 11 years old. This is who I am.
People assume when you’re in a monogamous relationship with a man that you’re straight, especially when you look fairly traditionally feminine as I do. It’s many people’s automatic default. And for me, it’s been easier to just be straight Janelle who is marrying a man than it is to be bi Janelle which seems to require a lot more explaining and weirdness.
I’m sorry for taking the easier route for so long.
When we were trying to figure out a location to get married, it was really, really important to me that we be married in a state with marriage equality. I wanted to know that on that day, I could legally marry whoever I loved and it just happened that it was a man. Thankfully, our childhood home states of Iowa and Connecticut, our old home of New York, and our current home of California all now have that and so my life was made easier in that respect. I got weirdly emotional about it a few times to an extent that I couldn’t even really explain. That was when I started to realize the weight I’d put upon myself by “lying by omission,” as Ellen Page referred to it.
Over the last few years, as I’ve worked in an industry that has quite a few awesome LGBTQ folks, I’ve felt both freer and more repressed. With some close friends, I’ve come out and enjoy being able to talk to them about it without feeling awkward. My friends that know have mostly all been wonderful and supportive. There’s always that weird moment when I’m, say, talking about an actress with a straight friend and have to stop and pause and think “if I say in front of this friend that the actress is hot, will that friend be weirded out? Have we had that conversation yet? Are we close enough where I feel like we should?” But I especially feel awkward around the LGBTQ folks that I haven’t come out to yet, because I recognize as a bi woman who is with a man in a seemingly heteronormative relationship, I have it a lot easier than most of them. It seems presumptuous to be like “hey, I’m one of you!” because I don’t face a lot of the same issues. I completely get that and I’ve tried my hardest to be an ally. But to a certain extent it’s harder to be an ally while also being in the closet because it feels like I’m saying “I support you but I’m still ashamed to admit that I’m like you.” I’ve also felt like bi people are dismissed by some of those in the LGBTQ community and so I’ve been too worried to get involved or identify as queer out of fear of rejection for not being queer enough.
I’ve struggled for some time with making an “announcement” versus just keeping on the way I’ve been going but honestly, this is my way of ripping off the Band-Aid. I’m marrying a man, it’s not like people will ever find out through my relationship, and telling people individually is both awkward and unnecessary. On the other hand, the idea that I need to come out because people presume anything is sort of ridiculous. But I think I need to do this for myself. There’s no going back from here, and I want it that way. This forces me to be more truly who I am every day with no pretending. Maybe I’ll never talk about this publicly again. Maybe I’ll get more involved with LGBTQ activism. I don’t know. I just know I’m tired of having to feel like I’m not being myself simply because people have assumed a default straightness about me. And I hope someone learns something from that and stops assuming default anything about people.
So, whatever your assumptions about me were, let’s start over.
Hi, I’m Janelle. I’m an editor and I love comics and I am a feminist and I love Chipotle. I’m marrying this awesome guy named Paul, and I also think Kristen Bell is the hottest woman ever. Life is pretty awesome. Let’s high five sometime.