A Major Stride towards Equality

Something momentous happened on Friday. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right. And thanks to that 5-4 vote, we are a step closer to equality for all American citizens. There is, of course, much more that we must work on. But this is an amazing victory, one that brings tears to my eyes, not only because I believe that every human being should have the right to marry the person s/he loves, but because I have personal stakes in this issue.

I am bisexual. By middle school, I was already wondering about my orientation, but it has taken me a while to acknowledge my queerness around others. All of my significant relationships have been with men, so my sexuality has rarely been questioned. In some ways, I have had an easy time in the face of intolerance because I can simply pass for “straight.” If all goes well with my current relationship, my attraction to women may never be readily visible.

As a result, I often feel like I am living a lie. It is a lie of omission, but it is still a lie. This sustained dishonesty has been very uncomfortable, especially when I have been around acquaintances or family members who have made insensitive remarks about the LGBTQ community. I’ve heard some people call bisexuality a myth, and someone dear to my heart once said that those who are attracted to both sexes are crazy. And, while I know that most intolerance is caused by ignorance, I’m not always keen to step into dangerous waters in the name of education.

Fortunately, my social circles in Chicago are comprised mostly of forward-thinking individuals. When I’ve chosen to come out here as someone who is bi or queer, I’ve always felt safe and supported. But I had not spoken explicitly to any of my loved ones in New York about my sexual orientation. Many of my friendships there have existed for over a decade. And my familial ties have existed for the span of my life. These relationships seemed too old and sacred to risk losing, even when I was fairly certain the other person would be accepting of me.

Then I heard what the Supreme Court ruling was, and I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to acknowledge this part of my identity. I had been planning to go to the Chicago Pride Parade, but that didn’t feel like enough. I wanted someone close to me to know me better. I wanted to make strides towards reducing my discomfort. I wanted to be without worrying about who I was being. So I decided to come out to my brother, D., the only sibling I’ve ever had, someone I’ve looked after since I was three (who has also looked after me quite a bit), and someone I care about deeply.

I chose to send my brother a text: “Uhh, have I told you I’m bi…?” My casualness was my way of masking my fear that he would react negatively. It was obvious that D. is an ally of the LGBTQ community (he was the one who had informed me, in a celebratory way, of the Supreme Court ruling), but I was still scared. I fretted for the forty-five minutes before he replied. I started to feel like I had made the wrong move. I feared I was being stupidly cavalier, but I couldn’t un-send the text. I tried not to think of the worst-case scenario.

Finally, he called me. He asked me if I was joking. My heart stopped a little. I said I wasn’t. He started saying, “Oh my god, oh my god, thank you for telling me,” and I began to grin. He told me how happy and honored he was that I had shared this with him. He even exclaimed, “You should have told me sooner!” I felt so loved, and grateful, and proud. Because my brother is amazing. And now I don’t feel like I have to hide away this part of me when I am around him.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling, I hope that acceptance of the LGBTQ community will continue to grow. I hope that there will be a time when I will feel completely comfortable speaking to my loved ones about my sexual orientation if I want to. I hope we will reach a point where we no longer breed hate out of ignorance. I hope that we will become more united as human beings.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to cheer my heart out at the Pride Parade and bask in the openness of its attendees. There was a lot of love there on Sunday. I was surrounded by people I care about, who care about me, and there was so much to celebrate. This was the first time in years that I had felt so strongly a part of a community. It was wonderful.

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— S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

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