Thursday, October 8, 2009

Be Who You Are

I want to start off this weeks blog with an excerpt from the book The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation. BTW, I love Melody Beattie’s books:

"In recovery; we're learning a new behavior. It's called Be Who You Are.
For some of us, this can be frightening. What would happen if we felt what we felt, said what we wanted, became firm about our beliefs, and valued what we needed? What would happen if we let go of our camouflage of adaptation? What would happen if we owned our power to be ourselves? Would people still like us? Would they go away? Would they become angry?
There comes a time when we become willing and ready to take that risk. To continue growing and living with ourselves, we realize we must liberate ourselves. It becomes time to stop allowing ourselves to be so controlled by others and their expectations and be true to ourselves - regardless of the reaction of others.
Before long, we begin to understand. Some people may go away, but the relationship would have ended anyway. Some people stay and love and respect us more for taking the risk of being whom we are. We begin to achieve intimacy, and relationships that work.We discover that who we are has always been good enough. It is who we were intended to be.
Today, I will own my power to be myself.”

Although it wasn’t my intention or plan, this past spring and summer I found myself doing some work around me being who I am. There was a part of me that I that realized I needed to stop hiding or “camouflaging”. I have always had same and opposite sex attractions. The first person I came out to as being bisexual, when I was 13 or 14 years old, told me that I was just confused. We had several long discussions, some being more like arguments, where I was constantly defending me being bi and being ok with it. I remember he would tell me that bisexual people could never be in a long relationship because they would never be completely satisfied with a man or a woman. Well, I went through my teenage years being what is now called “on the down low”. I dated girls and guys but kept the thing quite. I ended up marring a woman and trying hard to live a heterosexual life. That didn’t last long because that thought of never being able to be fully satisfied by one gender was so engraved in my mind. I thought, "Damn, he was right". After the divorce, and an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, I started to explore more of my same sex attraction.

I started going to gay bars, where I thought people would be ok with me being bi. I soon found out that that was not the case. Whenever I told a gay guy that I was bisexual, after he chuckled, I would hear things like “Oh, you’re just coming out right?”, “Honey it’s just a phase”, and after sex “Oh, you are so gay, just accept it.” So my sexuality wasn’t accepted by straight people or by gay folks. It got to the point where I just said, "Fine, I’m gay." just to avoid the biphobic remarks. I thought I would rather deal with homophobia from one group than biphobic remarks from both. However, I still could not get into a long term relationship because of the “never being satisfied” question – and, of course, my drug use wasn’t helping any either.

After I got clean, I started dating this guy. I told him that I was bisexual and he was/ is totally fine with it. Yes, 8 ½ years later, he is now my partner, Patrick. I learned that, yes, one gender can completely satisfy me. Just because I’m bisexual, it doesn’t mean that I’m bi-partnered. Although I still told everyone else I was a gay man who likes to sleep with women. This still got some "Ewwws!" and "Yucks"', but I figured at least I didn’t have to get into looooooong debates about who I am. Imagine that; people telling you who you really are and what you like.

It wasn’t until I began helping organize the 2009 Bi Health Summit, that I learned about more about bisexuality and was able to connect with so many people that the feel the way I do. It felt great.

Bisexuality is the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to more than one gender/sex. A person who self identifies as bisexual affirms this complexity and acknowledges a reality beyond the either/or dualities of heterosexism.

What is Bisexual identity?
A bisexual identity speaks to the potential, not the requirement, for involvement with more than one gender/sex. This involvement may mean sexually, emotionally, in reality, or in fantasy. Monogamy and non-monogamy are relationship choices made independently of sexual identity. Some bisexuals are monogamous, some may have concurrent partners, others may relate to different genders/sexes during different times of their lives. Most bisexuals do not have to be involved with more than one person at a time in order to feel fulfilled.

Identity has nothing to do with sexual behavior or experience. Bisexuals, despite the sexually insatiable stereotype, may or may not be sexually active, may or may not have been sexual with more than one person, or may never have been sexual at all. As with all sexual identities, whom one is, or is not having sex with, or whether one is being sexual or not, has nothing to do with the validity of a self professed identity (i.e. a lesbian is still a lesbian, a gay man is still a gay man, and a heterosexual remains a heterosexual whether they are being, or have ever been sexual, or not). “Bisexual Resource Center

I started to reclaim my bisexuality and letting people know. I felt like I was coming out again, and not in a good way. I was getting those same biphobic remarks. Those remarks feel more hurtful then when I first came out, because they are coming from my community, the LGBT community. The worst thing about it is that they don’t even realize that they are doing it, being biphobic. It’s time for some community education, in Chicago at least.

So it looks like I have my work cut for me again. But this time I am much wiser and better equipment to take it on. It’s not going to come from a place of anger, but from a place of compassion and understanding.

What does Biphobia look like?

  • Assuming a young person’s bisexual identity is a phase before coming to a “real” lesbian or gay identity.
  • Expecting bisexual people to get services, information and education from heterosexual service agencies for their “heterosexual side” and then go to gay and/or lesbian service agencies for their “homosexual side.”
  • Thinking bisexual people haven’t made up their minds.
  • Using slurs like “fence-sitter” or “switch-hitter"

See PFLAG’s Bisexuality 101 for more on biphobia and other facts.
*Adapted from the Bisexual Resource Center pamphlet, “What Does Biphobia Look Like?”

Click here to check out presentations, including slide sets from both the 20009 Bisexual Health Summit and the 2009 LGBTI Health Summit.

Lastly, as LGBTQAI, (etc.) communities from across the U.S. converge in Washington, D.C. this weekend for National Equality March, I ask you to keep this is mind: the fight for bisexual rights does not hinder the advancement of rights for gays and lesbians. We are all in the fight together. Read Bisexual Inclusion Isn't That Hard.

Click pic for weekend schedule

This is me sharing my work-in with you. Yes, I do “practice what I preach” from time to time.

Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you. —Madeline Bridges

(Usual disclaimer applies, with emphasis: The suggestions on this blog are just that “SUGGESTIONS.” My words cannot heal your pain and or addictions. Nor can I change your life. Only you can.)

To read daily motivations visit

If you are not sure how to begin your work-in or need some guidance please feel free to post a comment or email me directly at, I will response as soon as I can.

“Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness." -- Shakti Gawain

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