As a bisexual columnist, I share what I've learned from marriage to understanding privilege

What I Learned as a Bisexual Advice Columnist, from Marriage to Straight Privilege

For the past three years, I have had the great honor of being one of the only columnists dedicated to advising the bisexual community. Bisexuals from all over the world have come to me for advice in their darkest moments. They have shared secrets with me that they thought even their closest friends and family could never share. It is a great responsibility to try to help them with the issues they face.

The idea for the advice column was purely coincidental. As an outspoken bisexual who regularly writes articles in the media or is interviewed on television and radio about the bisexual experience, one of my greatest pleasures is to have bisexuals around the world write to me after reading these articles.

Sometimes it's just a thank you, but a lot of times there are follow-up questions that I just can't keep up with. This tells me that there are a lot of bisexuals out there who struggle and feel like there is no one they can turn to for advice on issues specifically related to bisexuality. That's where the idea for the advice column came from. In fact, there is such a dearth of advice that bisexuals desperately need that my column is now being turned into a book, "Bisexuality: The Basics," which will be available in May and is designed to answer all of the most common questions faced by bisexuals.

### What did I learn?

This journey to become a Bisexual Pain Uncle has helped me to better understand what is really going on in the world of bisexuals. What fascinated me was that although the people who reached out to me came from all over the world, with a wide range of ages and life experiences, I observed three issues that seemed to come up again and again.

### Out.

For bisexuals, coming out is a big deal. Statistics show that we are the least likely of the entire LGBTQ+ community to do so. One of the most fascinating things is the number of older bisexual men who have reached out to me. Often, these men are married and want to know how to talk to their wives to tell them they are bisexual. It's important to note that these men usually don't want an open relationship or to leave their partner. They just want to be honest about who they are with the people they have loved all their lives. Often times, these men question whether their wives love them or the straight role they have been playing all these years. This is always a difficult question to suggest. I think a lot of people think that coming out is a young man's game. Coming out at a young age is scary in itself. Not only how people will treat you, but often times it can affect how your family views you, and even where you live and your future employment. It's a completely daunting experience, but from what I've read and from the letters I've received, coming out at a later age doesn't come with a lot of privileges. Often, it can rock a marriage or even end it. A spouse may feel cheated and wonder how the revelation will affect the marriage. I always recommend thinking about what your spouse might ask you before you talk. This is important because you may face a series of questions that usually boil down to: How does this revelation change our marriage and my life? If you can reassure them that it doesn't really change anything, but just lets them know a new dimension of you, then that's reassuring. I think another big thing to focus on is reminding your significant other that you haven't changed. In fact, the only thing that has changed is that now they know things about you that they didn't know before. You've always been bisexual and they've always been in a relationship or marriage with a bisexual person; it's just that now they know.

### Bisexual friend

Another issue that I find very distressing is the lack of bisexuals who claim to have bisexual friends. Statistically speaking, it can be an extremely isolating experience for a bisexual to have no bisexual friends or people to turn to. Often, this means that bisexuals are at the mercy of both homosexual and heterosexual advice when facing problems specific to bisexuality. They usually have no one to share their experiences with to serve as a reference point and gauge what they should do in a given situation. I am reminded of a bisexual man who came to me for advice. He had a girlfriend but watched a lot of gay porn. He felt that this confirmed the claims of those who said he would never be satisfied with just one gender, that it was becoming something he was ashamed of, and that it was a problem. When I explained to him that I didn't think it was anything to worry about because, after all, a lot of heterosexuals and homosexuals look at pornography when they're in a relationship, I could feel the pressure off of him. I wasn't saying anything particularly profound. More importantly, the person who shared his life experience felt that the things he was worried about shouldn't stress him out. Getting validation from someone who shares your life experience and can put your concerns in perspective is something that many people take for granted, but it's too common in the bisexual community to be ignored. There are some great organizations where bisexuals can meet other people like them, but the problem is that they are usually only in cities and bisexuals are all over the world. I would love for bisexuals to start building a community and have lots of bisexual friends so they can build a supportive community together.

### Shortfall

Inadequacy is also an important issue that I see time and time again in the letters I receive. Many bisexuals feel that they are not bisexual enough, and this can take many forms. For example, I have heard some bisexual men say that they have only ever dated men, so the world thinks they are "gay". However, even if they have women in their lives who are attracted to them, they worry that they're not "manly" enough and that people will make fun of the idea of dating women. They worry that women won't take them seriously and that their friends and family will think they are a gay man trying to come out of the closet and have a fake relationship.

On the other hand, there are many bisexuals in heterosexual relationships who feel they are unable to share the issues they face because they feel they benefit from heterosexual privilege. They don't feel empowered to make their voices heard in LGBTQ+ environments because they don't feel cool enough.

It's frustrating to encounter this because there is no approved process to identify bisexuality - if you are attracted to more than one gender, then you are bisexual and your identity is valid. For the past three years, I've made it my mission to explain this to bisexuals - they should be confident in themselves, their attraction, their voice in the cool crowd, and they shouldn't have to worry about what other people think. They don't have to prove they are bisexual. They are valid and powerful.

As my column evolves into a book, I hope to continue to amplify the issues affecting the bisexual community and provide a beacon of support for those who need it most. Together, we can challenge stereotypes, foster inclusivity, and create a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and accepted for who they really are.

Lewis's book, Bisexuality: the Basics, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing, is now available for pre-order. releasing May 21, 2024. [Order here.] (#)

The post What I Learned as an Advice Columnist for Bisexuals, from Marriage to Straight Privilege appeared first on Attitude.


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