For Bisexual Awareness Week, I have a series of guest posts scheduled every day leading up to 5 posts for today (Sept 23rd). Buckle up for some bi visibility! This post by Steph Kyriacou follows his bisexual journey from his first coming out to his most recent. (Read all posts in the series here.)
I remember my first coming out like it was yesterday. I was an angsty seventeen-year-old still identifying as the female I was assigned at birth, who had discovered that other girls didn’t fantasise about Megan Fox quite as much as I did. There came a point when I had to admit the truth to myself, and when I decided I was ready to come out, I took my time telling the relevant people in my life; terrified, shaking, the words still feeling so unfamiliar in my mouth:
I was very lucky to have received positive reactions from most people. Many were accepting, and happy that I’d discovered this new part of myself. And quite a few people weren’t surprised at all, which was strangely validating. But since this was at a time when I was identifying as female, my newfound bisexuality was my way of telling the world that I like women as well as men. Fast-forward eight years, and I found myself coming out as bisexual again — but this time, as a transgender man who likes men as well as women.
You may be wondering what happened in those eight years that caused me to sway me away from the bisexual label, until now. For a start, I came out as a lesbian around a year after my first announcement as bi. I was eighteen now, and wholeheartedly embracing my love for women, so ‘gay’ felt like a much more fitting label for me. And it was, for around a year and a half. Then I went to uni and discovered a lot about myself — and this was when the gender stuff came into play. Long story short, I began exploring my gender identity. This eventually (finally!) led to me realising that I’m a trans man. But this gender journey also made me re-evaluate my sexuality. I began identifying as non-binary and started using the label ‘queer’, because it felt strange to use ‘gay’ when I wasn’t identifying as a woman anymore.
Meanwhile, I’d always had crushes on certain male actors or singers or even boys that I knew during this time, but brushed it all off while claiming that “I can still appreciate men physically even if I don’t want to date one!” (and while this wasn’t actually the case for me, this is true for some lesbians, so stop invalidating gay ladies just because they’ve made a comment about a man they think is good-looking!)
But this denial went on for years, and in the end I had to admit to myself that maybe my feelings for men went a little deeper than that. This was reinforced when I met my ex-boyfriend — hard to deny that you like men when you have legit feelings for one! This was a somewhat gradual realisation, with little romantic moments happening here and there until I fully realised that I actually liked him and couldn’t continue to just ignore it or push the feelings away. But I was still identifying as queer at this point, and despite having a literal boyfriend, I was still struggling with a lot of internalised homophobia. And trust me, I know how weird that sounds. But I’d spent so long accepting that I liked women, that I’d repressed the part of myself that still liked men. Re-learning that about myself and admitting that was almost harder than coming out the very first time.
It was difficult explaining it to people around me, too. I heard a lot of “but I thought you only liked women?!” and “I thought you were a straight guy now?” None of this was ever said maliciously; I distinctly remember an occasion where I was speaking about my ex-boyfriend to a family friend, and they were hilariously shocked to hear that I was in a relationship with a man. Their shock wasn’t expressed in a bad way, but it still made me feel on-edge seeing my personal relationship have such an effect on someone whose own heteronormative relationships have and will never be held under such scrutiny in the same way. It can be hard to accept a part of yourself if everyone around you is already prepared to dismiss it or undermine it, even unknowingly. It’s something I still struggle with today, despite being out as bisexual for over a year now.
However, I look back on that day last August when I truly accepted my bisexuality and said it aloud for the first time, and I smile. It was in a hotel room full of friends, many of whom are also bi. And it wasn’t forced out of me, or even suggested. It was simply a casual conversation about sexuality, with people sharing stories and personal experiences – and in that moment, I felt safe enough to share this part of myself. And I was welcomed with open arms, by my bi friends and non-bi friends alike. I felt warm, and content. This part of myself that had emerged all those years ago had stuck around despite me doing by best to repress it. And boy, am I glad it did. I love knowing who I am and being able to talk about it without shame or fear.
I will admit that it’s something I still struggle with at times. Years of conditioning myself to think “I’ll never have feelings for a man” is tough to undo – but I’m working on it. I’m already in such a different headspace to where I was a year ago; now I can admit that Richard Harmon isn’t the only man I fancy (but he may be the one I fancy the most, I mean, LOOK AT HIM.)
Funnily enough, my love for Richard was also something that helped me accept my bi-ness. Years of proudly loving women and suddenly I’m all flustered because of a dorky guy from a sci-fi TV show? Not something I was prepared for, but having people support my love for him helped me embrace it, which in turn helped me embrace my real-life attraction to men later on.
After years of confusion and denial and repression, I can finally proclaim who I am:
A transgender man who likes men and women.
I think I’ll always like them in slightly different ways, both romantically and physically – but I’m still bi, regardless of that. And I’m proud.
In the infamous words of Darryl from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:
“Not gonna hide it, not gonna lie,
I’m a bi kinda guy
There’s no reason to be shy!
My oh my, it’s a fact I can’t deny,
I’m bi, bi, bi, until the day I die!”
Damn straight, Darryl. Or should I say, damn bi?
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