This is probably going to be the hardest public blog post I’ll ever write in my life. When fear consumes you and prevents you from being true to yourself – from telling the people who matter the most to you who you really are, because you’re afraid of how they’ll react – then you’re no longer living. You’re in a perpetual state of being emotionally challenged. I go up and down, back and forth, trying to be happy with myself without letting people know everything I identify as, and then I slide down into self-loathing because I feel like I can’t be who I am.
Part of the problem is society. Living with the assumption that I’ll be like the ones who told their family and then were disowned, even if evidence shows me that both my family and my husband’s would be more inclined to accept me no matter what, because they understand that’s what love is. But fear overrides that. My siblings aren’t the issue. My sister already knows, and my brother is so open-minded that I know it wouldn’t make a difference to him. Plus, he’s not religious. It’s the religion that scares me, and I hate that, because I have so many religious friends who also know who I really am and they accept me, too.
Growing up, I always thought my Dad was open-minded and accepting of everyone. When my parents separated when I was 9, he stopped going to church, and came to appreciate God in a different way. When my mum died in 2005, he went back to Catholicism, and has become more deeply involved in the church than he ever seemed to be in the past. It feels like that involvement has shaped him into a person that sometimes I don’t recognise from my childhood, but then he’ll say things that are so comforting and just what I need to hear that remind me why he’s the father I love. Understandably, I don’t want to lose that. But we share different views on marriage equality, and so I worry how that might extend to how he’d feel about me if he knew everything there was to know.
When I met my husband, his family welcomed me with open arms. My mother-in-law especially came to feel like a a second mother to me, especially since I no longer had my own. She’s there for me when I need her, too. I got married in my husband’s family’s church. They’re all Christian, and though I do not identify as one myself, and they know I generally don’t go – though have enjoyed my brother-in-law’s sermons – they’ve accepted me anyway. They feel like my family, too, and again, understandably, I don’t want to lose that. I worry about risking my children’s relationship with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, just because I want to be honest about who I am, out in the open.
But I’m tired of hiding. It’s exhausting, and mentally draining. I have so many friends who know – here in Malaysia, some friends back home, and pretty much everyone who’s met me online, because in my private haunts, I am honest about who I am. But it’s not enough. I want to talk about it unrestrictedly, because it is that deeply important to me. It’s personal. It’s a subject I’ve written about in my novel and I don’t want to talk about it in an abstract way, I want to talk about it on that personal level.
So I’m coming out, unequivocally. I identify as bisexual, and have done since I was about 16. Yes, even when some of my high school friends questioned me about being attracted to other girls. I lied and/or implied that I was straight. It didn’t seem to be the accepted thing, and I didn’t want to be seen that way. It’s easy to keep that assumption going when you’re married to a man. No one questions it. I’ve not lied to my husband about it, ever. When he found my profile online (which is how we met), my profile clearly stated that I was bisexual. He didn’t care. He accepted me. That acceptance is so important to me.
I’m not sure how many people reading this will understand what it means. Why does it matter what I identify as if I’m married to a man anyway? Marriages are monogamous after all, aren’t they? It’s not like I’m going to go around having relationships with women, too, is it? Except this is a false assumption built by society. Yes, there are plenty of bisexuals who prefer monogamy. But that’s not the only way. Have I had a relationship with a woman since getting married? No. But my husband would let me if I wanted one, if I found someone I wanted to be with like that. By the same token, I accept that my husband can also seek out other relationships. I don’t have a problem with it because I love him, and I know he loves me, and to me love is about freedom to be the person you are, not about having society’s assumed controls placed on your partner because that’s just how it’s “supposed” to work.
It is my hope that revealing this won’t actually change the way people I care about see me. If others want to judge me for it, that’s their choice. I don’t want to spill any tears over people no longer liking me just because I happen to have some attributes they don’t like.
If I’m lucky, my hope will outweigh any fear I had that prevented me from writing this sooner.