I liked boys from a young age, but had definitely crushed on a lot of girls (including Angelina Jolie) without realizing it. I was raised in a religion and culture where being anything but straight wasn't okay, so I was deep in denial. I think I finally realized I was bisexual when I became friends with a girl who returned my feelings. I definitely had a LOT of identity issues since then, most of which were "am I a lesbian?" or "does liking girls and having a boyfriend make me a liar?" or "what if I choose a mate and realize I like the wrong gender?". Thankfully, I'm currently in a relationship in which there is no question anymore- I love who I love. I'm STILL bisexual and my partner is very supportive of that.
How did you come out? What were people's reactions to you being bisexual?
I first came out to my college roommate and then some other friends. Contrary to my doubts, they turned out to be extremely supportive! I was so relieved, because I had felt so alienated and lonely by hiding such a big part of myself from people close to me. I felt guilty, because it was like I didn't care enough about them to be honest.
It wasn't a 100% positive reaction though. Some family members and friends did not accept my bisexuality at all, and it's still hard to talk about almost 10 years later. I'd rather not go into detail, but it was an excruciating few years after that.
I just want to add- I don't feel like I've ever stopped coming out. When I meet new people, I don't say "Hi I'm Aryn, I'm bisexual". It's not super important to me for strangers to know my sexual identification. However, when strangers become friends, I tell them sometime or another, and I've never really had a bad experience when that happens.
Have you experienced biphobia? If so, could you provide an example?
I guess the only time I've experienced biphobia was when I came out. Nothing violent, just the feeling that I was living my life wrong.
Were you able to do anything about it?
Not really. It was a struggle, but I learned to get through every day believing that I was a good person.
Why do you think bi-visibility day is important?
I only accepted my own bisexuality because I knew there were other people out there who are bisexual. I am not alone. I'm not living a lie anymore. I don't know if I would have had the strength to be so confident in my identity if bisexuality was such a taboo subject. I'm very thankful that I can be myself to the fullest extent because there are so many people willing to discuss bisexuality with open ears.
Do you have any bisexual role-models?
Angelina Jolie was probably my first role model, but I look up to anyone (of any sexuality or identity) who can be themselves, no matter how big the spotlight. I also look up to my cousin- their love and support gave me the strength to love myself for who I am.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of coming out as bi?
There will never be a right time, it can be the scariest thing you've ever done, and you may not get the reaction you want. But if you are thinking about it, DO IT! You'll feel better years later, even if you spend months, or even years, at rock bottom. I was once encouraged to come out with these words: "Everyone has their coming out story". Trust me, you WILL find your circle of support.
My story? I'm very thankful I did it. I'm living life without the huge burden of self-loathing and paranoia. I don't find myself questioning my decisions anymore, and I'm not talking only about identity- I'm 100% more confident in everything I do!
I guess what I'm trying to say is: coming to terms with your own identity and then saying it freely can definitely put you on the path to feeling better about yourself, which can boost your confidence.
Once you come out, you will meet other bisexuals who have come out too, and you can compare stories. It's amazing how good it feels to know that others are in the same boat.