I came out as bisexual in high school. Thankfully, I was met with nothing but love and acceptance. I was never bullied, and no one told me it was “just a phase.” The world moved on, and so did I. After I came out, I kept going to school dances and the movies and I had my heart broken. I got older, and I started feeling lonely in the most untouchable way — you know, when teenagers think they are the only person in the world to have ever experienced loneliness. I fought with my siblings. I fought my anxiety. I cried a lot.
My sexuality just seemed like one more complicating factor in my life. After a while, I shoved it far beneath the surface of my personality.
Then I met Declan.
Last spring, we were both acting in a theater festival at our college. This may sound like an exaggeration or a cliché, but I promise you it’s true. During rehearsal one night, our eyes met across the room and my whole world changed. He approached me and we started talking. Declan was warm, funny, and deliriously handsome — freckles, high cheekbones, and big blue eyes that electrified me. I couldn’t even tell you what we talked about during those early conversations; I only know that I was always smiling. We started dating, and in a week, I knew it was love.
Very early, I found myself sharing things with Declan that I had always been hesitant to tell anyone. I just knew that I could trust him, that I could pull back the curtain on all my parts, good and bad. Communication is the bedrock of our relationship. Declan shared a lot with me too — I learned that he was also bisexual. His path to coming out had not been as smooth as mine, but the experience helped him become the kind, open person I met.
Soon, we opened up about the hazy web of insecurities that shrouded our sexual identities.
Neither of us had ever felt seen as a queer person, and the truth was that we had trouble even seeing ourselves that way. I had always shrugged off that part of my being as not a big deal, and said that my sexuality simply didn’t figure that strongly into how I saw myself as person. I didn’t like to tell people that I was bi because it seemed pushy and problematic, like I was merely inserting myself into a conversation where I didn’t belong. Through our conversations together, I began to see that I had systematically delegitimized my sexuality to myself. Deep down, I didn’t believe that other people took my queerness seriously, so neither did I.
Declan and I also realized that we had some shared trauma relating to our sexual identities, and being honest about those experiences only made our relationship stronger.
These discussions allowed us to listen to each other without flinching. Yes, reopening our wounds was painful, but it was the kind of pain that helped us both begin to heal individually.
What I respect so much about Declan is how he has taken on the challenge of escaping toxic masculinity’s influence. Before we met, I never thought about how difficult it must be to grow up with so many unhealthy images and representations of manliness, only to realize that your very identity subverts what you’ve been taught. Realizing his bisexuality allowed Declan to recognize and reject those toxic messages about gender.
I am still on my journey to self-love, and although I stumble like anyone else, I am so glad that my partner and I are bisexual. Our uniquely shared perspective strengthened all areas of our relationship. Whether we are arguing or laughing together, we always do it from a place of love and empathy.