Feb 18 2012

The importance of the right environment to ‘come out’ into

Published by under Coming Out

Yesterday the LGBT press was literally cooing at the news of a 7 year-old boy coming out as ‘Gay’.

‘Amelia’ a blogger for the Huffington Post recounts the story of how her 7 year-old son decided to tell her quite nonchalantly that he was Gay.  It’s a big of an ongoing saga and its well worth reading the related posts on the subject too if you want to get a full understanding of the circumstances that led to this boy’s decision to declare himself gay.

Just like Amelia, you can probably wonder if this will be the last word on this boy’s orientation, but one thing is not in doubt, Amelia has created an environment where her son feels comfortable, nay, confident in telling her he is ‘Gay’ and it got me wondering. If I had that environment as a child would I have felt more comfortable coming out?

Its not exactly like parents were intolerant of gay people; we had neighbours who were gay, we chatted with them made polite conversation, but I wouldn’t say my youth was filled with gay role models. My parents explained homosexuality in a way I suppose they thought was best. “Some men want to get married to other men.” This was long before gay-marriage was legal anywhere so typically this was qualified with, “but they can’t, so they just live together like they were married.”

As a 9 year-old this gave me a pretty clear idea of what being gay was all about. People who were married lived together and slept in the same bed, they also kissed and called each other ‘love’. That was being married was all about in my 9 year-old brain so adapting this to two guys instead of a man and a woman was pretty easy.

But equally there was something else, something that clearly told me this was not a normal state of affairs, maybe it was the way my mother said “Some men…” with a strained emphasis on the word “some”. Maybe it was the way my father sneered and used the word “poofter” in a condescending way. All I know is I was left with the impression that it wasn’t entirely OK to be gay.

At the time this wasn’t hugely damaging to my psyche, I was more interested in playing GI JOE with my brother than figuring out my orientation.

However, by the time I was trying to figure out my orientation, I was crippled. I felt had no safe place to talk about my feelings even though, my mum (if not my dad), would have been sympathetic had I not been scared into silence.

So instead I suffered quietly, never daring to mention my same-sex attraction until my late 20s.

So when I read the story of the 7 year old who ‘came out’ as gay, I couldn’t help but feel, that in spite of having parents who were largely tolerant of homosexuality, I was cheated out of the tolerant loving environment where I could have felt as confident as this boy did when it came to discussing my own orientation.

My fear is many parents; including many readers will make the same mistakes as my parents.

As best as I can work it out, the trick to creating that tolerant loving environment that’s safe for LGBT kids to come out into, is to talk about homosexuality with genuine warmth and love, instead of clinical distance. To avoid any mockery of homosexuality or same-sex relationships, and to tell your kids you love them and to love them more when they confide in you.

We need to make more mums like Amelia.

 

5 responses so far

Jan 08 2012

Still going strong

Published by under Bisexuality

I just wanted to let everyone know that although this is the first update for almost 2 years. The blog is still been read and the comments still published.

My main reason for not publishing was to begin with a lack of anything to say that I hadn’t really covered already. More recently its because I’d been insanely busy.

Of course in the last two years my views on some points of detail have changed, I’ve had new experiences, many of them very positive, and of course the blog has been bombarded with comments.

Your comments are typically my main source of inspiration for new responses, so keep them coming in and hopefully in 2012 I’ll be able to add a few more articles.

But yeah, just a post really to let you all know this site is still active.

Happy 2012!

8 responses so far

Jun 19 2010

Girls! Empathy and understanding is important.

Published by under Bisexuality,Coming Out

I want to carry on from my last post about Female Reaction to bisexuality, which dealt with how straight women respond to discovering their boyfriend isn’t quite as straight as they thought he was. I also highlighted that central to many fears are abandonment issues and in my last post I promised a to discuss how we might get over them. But before I get onto that I wanted to explain in a bit more detail why I think this needs to be tackled instantly.

They say time heals all, but often there isn’t much time, here’s why:

Upon learning their boyfriend is bisexual, women are generally hurt and afraid, but all too often they make the mistake of focussing on their own feelings rather than recognise the difficulty this presents for their boyfriends.

After coming out with a big personal admission, men need reassurance too. If those admissions, especially concerning someone’s sexuality are not greeted with universal acceptance, then we put ourselves in a very emotionally delicate and vulnerable situation.

We bear our souls to our girlfriends, only to be told we are liars (often only by omission), cheats (often only because we have fantasies) and that we have “ruined everything”. How do you think that feels?

A little more empathy on the part of women would go a long way here. Even if you can’t accept the revelation, to at least empathise and acknowledge the difficulty we must have over-come to come out, to be grateful for the trust we have demonstrated in sharing our darkest secrets.

If this isn’t acknowledged it creates an emotional chasm between the two parties which can be difficult to bridge.

This same chasm can cause wild and incoherent responses from men. This is because of the intense confusion, rejection and condemnation we have to suddenly rationalise whilst the woman we love stands there telling us we are inadequate.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t acknowledge women’s hurt and women’s feelings in all of this. Of course we should. In particular if they have been cheated on or deceived. But we need to know are partners are capable of moving on and won’t keep returning to square one. Wounds don’t heal overnight, but they don’t heal at all if you keep picking at the scab.

If a woman doesn’t seem to be able to move on, or keeps throwing her hurt back in the face of the man, then the relationship is on borrowed time, particularly if the woman failure to empathise earlier has created emotional distance.

We wont wait very long for women to get over something if they singularly fail to recognise they have hurt us in the process.

Yes I know that women might be having to come to terms with infidelity, but frankly compared to coming out as bisexual (or being outed as bisexual) that’s something which is relatively common. A Durex Global sex survey found that 22% of people have had extra-marital sex, that’s not counting affairs from unmarried couples. Infidelity happens very frequently, its hurtful and difficult to handle but most of us have to deal with it once or twice in our lifetimes.

Whereas coming out as bisexual, is a once in a lifetime experience, for about 2% of the population. Its bigger. There is more at stake. The social barriers, fear and shame that men have to over-come whilst coming out or being outed is far more intense.

Failure to recognise that puts your ability to rescue your relationship in serious jeopardy.

71 responses so far

Jun 13 2010

Female reaction to male bisexuality.

Published by under Bisexuality

One of my most popular posts was a piece entitled “How to talk to your bisexual boyfriend” and it attracts a lot of comments from women seeking to deal with their boyfriend’s bisexuality. I thought it would be interesting to analyse the female reactions to discovering they have a bisexual boyfriend and to see if we can learn anything from it.

I apologise in advance if this article comes across as sexist. I do have a prejudice in so much as  I have experienced these situations for myself as a male who has come out as bisexual to several girlfriends. But I do think this perspective and my conclusions will be helpful to women, so if you can get over my wounded male bias and reach the end of the essay, you’ll hopefully find it useful.

Based on the comments my earlier article attracted and on emails I received privately, it would seem that generally speaking you can characterise the sentiments of women who have just discovered their boyfriend is bisexual  as some or more of the following.

  1. They still love their boyfriend
  2. They are angry/hurt he didn’t reveal his bisexuality sooner.
  3. They are worried he might decide he is gay.
  4. They want him to be true to himself.
  5. They don’t want him to sleep with men on the side. (The monogamy clause).

Lets briefly deal with each and then I’ll take a more holistic discussion of the points.

(1) Women still love their bisexual boyfriends. Good! Happy days! This is an excellent and fortunate place to start. From here all things are possible.

(2) They are angry and or hurt that their boyfriends didn’t reveal their bisexuality sooner in the relationship. On this point I see varying definitions of “sooner” ranging from “before he even asked her out” to “before he asked her to marry her”. What’s more the definition of “sooner” appears to be proportional to the length of the relationship up to the revelation. Men can’t seem to win on this one, because they can never tell their girlfriends they are bisexual soon enough.

Whilst its understandable that women are going to feel hurt, particularly if they have caught their boyfriend being unfaithful. I have never heard from a woman (even one who has not been cheated on) consider all the social barriers, shame and fears a man might have about revealing his bisexuality. In our hetero dominated world, few people outside the LGBT community understand how hard it is to come out. Girls you need to be more understanding about this, especially if you and your boyfriend live in a very heterosexual social environment or have a religiously conservative background.

(3) They worry their boyfriend might decide he is gay. I’ll analyse the motives behind this fear later, but for now, I’ll just say two things, (a) we can blame every gay man that ever tried to be straight for creating this stereotype [Joking] and (b) it singularly fails to understand bisexuality as a distinct orientation to homosexuality.

Its worth noting that for many bisexual men, the last two points (4) & (5) are impossible to reconcile. A point seemingly wasted on some of their girlfriends. Due to the logical inconsistency, I tend to dismiss point (4) as tokenism or at least as being very low on the list of priorities. In fact what is far more over-riding in these circumstances is abandonment issues.

Personally, I find its telling that I have never heard from a woman, who has dumped her boyfriend because she found out he was bisexual. They all want to save the relationship, they often are unsure how to do this or whether the relationship can survive. They are often confused and hurt, but I have not heard from a woman who instantly gave her boyfriend his marching orders just because she found out he liked boys.

So I don’t think women want to leave their boyfriends. More over their objections to him sleeping with men (the monogamy clause) and their fear that he might decide he is gay, are actually two sides of the same coin and centre on their fear that their boyfriend will leave them, not vice versa.

This is what leads me to think that abandonment fears are actually at the heart of the whole issue.

Bisexual men tend to keep their sexuality a secret because they fear their girlfriend will dump them. Something I have seen no evidence of. When they reveal their bisexuality, their girlfriend then fears that their boyfriend will leave them. Again if he is bisexual there is no evidence of this either.

The unfairness about these respective fears is that the male fear of abandonment is falsifiable and can be demonstrably shown to be misplaced, ie: by coming out and discovering that your girlfriend doesn’t actually want to leave you. In contrast the female fear of abandonment is (in the short term at least) unfalsifiable and there is nothing the guy can do to show her it is misplaced.

The problem is that this female fear of abandonment tends to manifest itself with trust issues, resentment and insecurities. These become a destructive force in the relationship before sufficient time has elapsed to allow the abandonment fear to be abated.

One guaranteed cure for female abandonment fears is long-term monogamy. Some women might be able to gradually accept an open relationship whereby they allow their boyfriend to have casual male partners providing of course that they always return to their female partners afterwards. But each takes time to accept and the abandonment fears actively work actively against allowing this to happen.

I seemed to be working towards a conclusion that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. However, I don’t think that’s helpful or proactive in terms of relationship counselling.

The solution as I see it rests with the ability of women to quickly get over any feelings of hurt and anger they are experiencing and to rapidly resolve any abandonment fears they might have. This is easier said than done and places a heavy burden on women, but I do believe that if more women can take a cognitive approach to the situation, better outcomes ie: a loving and trusting relationship will result.

An explanation of how this might work will have to wait for another article, and whether or not you think I’m being fair towards women is also open to debate. However, I think we’ll agree that abandonment fears are a major destructive force in relationships, they cause men to lie and women to lose trust and feel insecure. Getting over abandonment fears is therefore central to a happy relationship.

115 responses so far

Mar 19 2010

Srebrenica, blame the gays!

Published by under Politics

Retired US General John Sheehan, a former Nato commander, has caused outrage by suggesting that Dutch Peacekeepers failure to act and prevent the massacre of Bosniaks at Srebrenica was due to low morale caused by the presence of gay soldiers within the Dutch ranks.

General Sheehan was speaking to a US Senate hearing on allowing openly  gay people to serve  in the US military.

Dutch defence ministry spokesman Roger van de Wetering rebutted the General saying, “It is astonishing that a man of his stature can utter such complete nonsense.”

Full Story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8575717.stm

In 1995 Srebrenica was a UN safe-haven under the protection of 400 Dutch peacekeepers, when Bosian-Serb Forces overran the town killing more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys. To suggest that the presence of gay servicemen in the Dutch contingent contributed to the massacre, is not only wrong and insulting, it also completely ignores the facts.

The Serb forces had been laying siege to the town for weeks. They numbered almost 2,000 and were equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles, heavily artillery and mortars. Once they took the decision to overrun the town, the Dutch troops were largely powerless to prevent it and became little more than hostages. This prevented UN forces from carrying out air-strikes on Serb positions surrounding the town and forcing the invading troops out of the safe-haven.

Dutch morale was indeed low, but it had nothing to do with homosexuals it had far more to do with conditions on the ground, which were dire. Srebrenica has been under siege conditions for weeks, there was little running water and basic sanitation was virtually non-existent. Meanwhile the Dutch camps sheltering refugees were over-crowded and short of supplies, Dutch troops were turning away a large stream of refugees claiming their camps were full.

Now when you are faced with that level of human suffering and you have to turn away needy people,  on the orders of your superiors, yet feel that human urge to help, this is going to  damage your morale.

Of course its far easier to blame it on the gays than it is to understand the situation and suffering on the ground. General Sheehan was never at Srebrenica.

3 responses so far

Mar 17 2010

When bigotry is too good to lose.

Published by under Politics

Catholic adoption agency Catholic Care has won a high a court ruling granting them an exception to the Sexual Orientations Regulations, under the United Kingdom Equality Act, which forced adoption agencies to consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.

Catholic adoption agencies were given 18 months to comply with the legislation or close, many threatened to close and some did, others complied it the law whilst Catholic Care sought and exception, threatening to close if one was not granted.

The exception has been granted under the fine print of the law which allows for the exemption could apply “to any charity subject to it being in the public interest”.

There is no doubt the good work that Catholic Care does in adoption cases, its been established for over 100 years and works in some of the most deprived parts of my home region of Yorkshire in the north of England. They just don’t offer adoption services to same sex couples, which clearly is not so good.

Gay rights groups are up in arms about this ruling.

“It’s unthinkable that anyone engaged in delivering any kind of public or publicly funded service should be given licence to pick and choose service users on the basis of individual prejudice. It’s clearly in the best interests of children in care to encourage as wide a pool of potential adopters as possible.” Jonathan Finney of Stonewall told BBC News.

No-one wants to see established adoption agencies close, certainly not those with good track records for supporting adopted children with their new parents. However Catholic Care have sucessfully held the government to ransom over this legislation by threatening to back up shop unless they were allowed to continue to discriminate against homosexual couples.

It would seem however, that the high court has decided that some forms of bigotry are too good to lose.

34 responses so far

Mar 01 2010

True Love 1980

Published by under Bisexuality

My posts are becoming more sporadic because I think I’ve said most I wanted to say about bisexuality in previous articles. At least for now. I opened up the blog to other bi-writers to share their experiences, but they too have either said all they felt they needed to or found other pressures on their time that have diverted their attention.

So in an effort to breath a bit of fresh live back into the blog, I thought I might share some cultural references that the bi-community may have missed.

The first is the music video from the Ash single True Love 1980, Ash are an alternative rock band from Northern Ireland and I’ve been a fan since their début album.

Now Ash are not a bisexual or gay band by any stretch of the imagination, to the best of my knowledge all the band members are straight. So its nice to get this little nod in a music video.

If you enjoy the song and the music video you can watch more on the Ash YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/darthmarkh

Incidentally the You Tube user “darthmarkh” who uploads the band’s videos is the band’s bass player Mark Hamilton.

2 responses so far

Dec 26 2009

An emotionally bruising month

Published by under Bisexuality

Its been a fairly emotional December and aside from Christmas (which was great) its one I’m keen to forget. I’m sure my girlfriend is too. There have been a lot of strains on our relationship, sickness, hospital appointments, moving in together. All sorts of stuff, but probably above all else my girlfriend and I have suffered a bit of mutual emotional battering as we’ve gotten to know things about each other that we previously didn’t share or suspect.

Last May, just a few of months after we’d met, she was all set to move away. To sell her house and head back home to her extended family. At my request she turned down an offer on the house so we could have a go at building a life together. One cannot expect to know all the intimate details about your partner after dating them for three months, so in acquiescing to my request she must have known she was taking a risk. However, this didn’t stop her feeling like I misled her when I later shared some admittedly shocking phonesex secrets about my past sexual persuasions.

In a way she was right, there are many things we do keep from our partners (as bisexual men this is typically our bisexuality) and if this doesn’t feel like lying it certainly feels like an omission. But equally these are not things we feel comfortable enough sharing until we are in a very safe emotional place with our partners. To reach this place takes time. When my girlfriend and I took the decision to be together, time was something we didn’t have. The offer for the house was on the table and a choice had to be made.

The outcome is that my girlfriend felt like I lied to her by omission, and I felt somewhat hard-done-by for being expected to share my darkest personal secrets a matter of weeks into a new relationship. What’s more my girlfriend’s response has made it abundantly clear to me that such revelations (particularly when misinterpreted due to a fudged drunken explanation) can profoundly alter her view of the man she fell in love with.

My conclusion really results in a warning. If you’ve been in a relationship for a while and reveal a shocking new fact about yourself, particularly if you don’t have a succinct and reassuring way of explaining it, then you run the risk ruining your partners image of you. For example, if there is anyone reading this who is thinking of coming out as bisexual, whilst in they are in relationship. Then be under no illusions, you are between a rock and a hard place.

14 responses so far

Oct 20 2009

Gay Bashing Jan Moir Style

Published by under Politics

Stephen Gately
Stephen Gately photo by Michelle Woolnough

The Daily Mail hit a new low this week with Jan Moir’s piece on the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately. Not only did she manage to trample all over his soon to be dug grave, she made Gately’s tragic death the centre-peice of over 900 words of unapologetic gay-bashing.

The article published on the 16 October, in which Jan Moir describes Gately’s death as striking a blow to the “happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships” has seen a record 21,000 complaints lodged with the Press Complaints Commission.

Moir described Gately’s death “strange, lonely and troubling”. Though I hasten to add if you read the coroners report, it is not particularly strange, it was hardly lonely with his husband in the next room and to anyone outside his immediate circle of family and friends, the only troubling thing about Gately’s death is the response it provoked from a Daily Mail columnist.

Inspite of having no medical training and no background in forensic medicine Moir went on to say “Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this.” – Though one would hasten to add that the coroner who, unlike Jan Moir, possesses a degree in forensic medicine and actually examined Stephen Gately’s body, declared the death to be due to a pulmony oedema (fluid on the lungs) caused by a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

Moir herself denied there were any homophobic undertones to her article. However, one can only conclude that she hasn’t bothered to read her own work before sending it print. The article is rife with slurs, smears, assumptions and mis-information, which if not consciously meant to be anti-gay, reveals a deep-rooted homophobia in Jan Moir’s subconscious.

Insensitively Moir suggests that Gately and husband Cowles had invited 25 year-old Bulgarian Georgi Dochev back to their apartment that night for the purpose of an extra-marital shagging session. Whilst the facts seem to be that Cowles and Dochev retired to the bedroom whilst Gately stayed on the sofa. Whatever the truth of the truth of the circumstances, its none of Moir’s business or anyone else’s for that matter. What’s more Gately clearly wasn’t upset by the arrangement otherwise he would have hardly nodded off on the sofa.

Aside from the disgusting manner in which she slates a talented young entertainer, the most troubling part of Moir’s article for the wider gay and non-heterosexual community is the way she equated Gately’s [gay] lifestyle with been “dangerous” and “troubling”, bizarrely linked it with the death of another gay celebrity Kevin McGee, the late former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas.

Thankfully Moir’s article hasn’t gone unchallenged.

Charlie Brooker led the calls for people to stand up to this kind of wantant gay-bashing in a witty piece for the Guardian and the Daily Mail made some effort to redeem itself with a sterling contribution by Janet Street-Porter.

Though without wanting to diminish Ms Street-Porter’s rebuttal, one cannot help but think that the Mail published this piece so they could claim to be fair and balanced. Screw that! They shouldn’t have published Moir’s piece in the first place.

2 responses so far

Aug 28 2009

Hello to Honesty

Published by under Bisexuality,Coming Out,Personal

Areth is a young woman living in the United States. She has always known she was bisexual, and has not come out to many people. At every stage in her life there had been love interests from both sexes. She is quite certain that she is bisexual despite never having a full-blown relationship with a woman. However, her reluctance to come out can be attributed to being in a hetero, monogamous relationship.

During the first few months of her relationship she had confessed that she is bisexual, and in return she discovered that her mate, in a strange twist of things, also is bisexual. This gives her the opportunity to offer a unique perspective, on what its like to be a bi, monogamous woman in a relationship with a bisexual man.

This is my first contributing post, and I am extremely happy and anxious to be a part of this community. My real name is not Areth, but I decided on a pen name to conceal my identity because I lead a public life as a teacher. I feel that many of the individuals I work with, on a daily basis, would not be ready to hear about my sexual preferences. I am a bit ashamed to say that I have not come out to everyone, and that is the cursed blessing about being bisexual. Several of us live our lives undetected, and several of us are never questioned.

As a female bisexual, I find it hard to relate to how society perceives us. For one reason or another, it’s a hot thing to have a bisexual girlfriend. Some women would go to lying to admit it, despite having no interest in an actual relationship with a woman. Straight and lesbian both fear us because they believe that bisexuality somehow translates to having two romantic relationships at the same time.

However, to be as honest as I can be, I am a strictly monogamous bisexual. I have known this all my life, and this facet of my life was never challenged until recently. Although this community focuses mainly on male bisexuality, I have been given this opportunity to share in my experiences not only because I, too, am bisexual, but because my male partner of 2 years is also bisexual.

I had told my BF at the beginning of our relationship that I had genuine interest in a relationship with women, and that I could see myself eventually living with another woman and being her mate for life. In that regard, he reacted very differently from what I expected. He was afraid. He was unsure. He did not want to fancy the thought of a threesome as most men would’ve jumped on the bandwagon and encouraged me to find a woman to have sex with. However, I believe that he was scared because he knew I was capable of loving another woman to the same degree that he could.

In many bisexual relationships, jealousy can run ramped and cause huge misunderstandings between two partners. I was extremely relieved that my BF did not ask for a FFM threesome, but a few months after my confession I realized that he, too, was bisexual. My following posts in this community will be a kind of therapy for me, as well as a chronicle of my experiences with bisexuality, within myself and my partner.

9 responses so far

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