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visiBIlity

Anu Elizabeth Roche
Photo credit: Sukrit Nagaraj

Today is Coming Out Day 2016 and I would like to tell you a little story.

It took me 27 years to admit I wasn’t straight.

15 of those years were spent in me being a teenager in denial: fending off whispered catechism-class speculations that I was lesbian and generally being a homophobic transphobic everything-phobic asshole.

8 of those years were spent being a shit ally. The “LGBT folks have a mental condition let’s have a pity party” ally. The ally that equated polyamoury with untrustworthiness. The ally that said her crushes on women were a result of being in all-girls’ institutions all her life and see, see, this is why you should send your daughters to co-ed schools. The ally that ignorantly misgendered Brandon Teena after watching “Boys Don’t Cry” and said “the most traumatic thing about the rape is that it was proof that she wasn’t a man”. Even as I write this down I cringe, partly because I am still guilty of misgendering people, and still struggle to ask about what pronouns they prefer. Partly because how dare I.

Five of those years were mired in confusion, self-loathing and pain. I was a newly married woman who still didn’t know if she was bi or not. Who went to Queer Pride meetings masquerading as straight because would I be lying if I said I was bi? I tended to like men more. Did that mean I wasn’t, what about that part that loved women. Where did it lie? Where could I place it?

And what was I going to tell my husband? That his wife had an entire side to her that he had no clue about? Would he feel cheated? Disgusted? Would he be afraid that I would cheat on him? By then I’d seen enough internet links on bi-phobia and bi-erasure, heteroflexibility, discrimination, to fear that he would either mistrust me or joke about threesomes. By then I was hardly sure myself what I was.

I came out to my husband two days after the 2013 Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, when he asked me why the verdict disturbed me as much as it did. It’s horrible, yes, he said, and it makes absolutely no sense, but you haven’t gotten back to normal since then. What happened?

I told him.

He was shocked when he heard this, and tried too hard to pretend nothing had changed for two days after. It hurt more than I would care to admit and I was sure everything I was afraid of had just happened. There were times when I wondered whether I should have just shut up.

Well I’m glad I didn’t because on the third day he asked me if we could talk and sat me down. He said a lot of stuff I don’t exactly remember now. But one thing stood out, and it was this: “You really only get to know what kind of ally you are when someone you love comes out to you. I’m sorry. This is who you are and I wouldn’t want you to change a thing.”

He has not budged from that stand since. There have been, quite literally, times when he has read up and listened and asked, listening with an excited kind of interest. There have been times when he has asked me if I would like to be with a woman. When I was pregnant, he wrote me an emotional letter telling me if I ever wanted to express my being bi, I should. “It won’t change anything between us, Anu. We will always be husband and wife”.

Our relationship is messy, complicated, sometimes sweet and sometimes stormy, but I know for a fact that this is a man I can trust. A man who has taken me for all I am and loves me because of it all, not inspite of it. He is my biggest source of validation.

Three of those years have been spent embracing this part of me that I spent so long rejecting. Spent delivering smart zingers to peoplr who call me bi-curious because I have never slept with women (not that my track record with men was any better) (cmon, “nine years is a long time to be just curious” sounds pretty clever I think). It’s been spent learning to respect the way people see themselves because a man I loved once did that to me. It’s been spent loving myself and loving everyone. It’s been spent learning and accepting that I still don’t know shit. And you know what? That’s okay. You learn something new everyday.

Edit: Someone asked me to what end my speaking out was. What purpose did it serve? Good question. When I was a little girl I could have done with a voice like this. There are kids who cannot come out, will never come out, can never envision support. Well, look below, my darling one. See what you will find. Support. Love. Acceptance. Know that you will find it whenever you are ready to do so, please. <3


This piece was originally posted on Anu’s FB timeline.

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  1. Hi Anu, Thank you for this. One of my ignorant assumptions used to be that bisexuals in opposite sex relationships were like straight people in straight relationships, or else that they were gay-in-waiting. That is why I think hearing your story is so important, for people to see that queerness doesn’t begin or end at ‘same’ and ‘sex’. Today, I can’t imagine life without my queer friends. Congrats on coming out and I wish you many, many amazing queer friendships.

    1. Thank you so much, Sami. I harboured the same ignorance too. I am glad we have grown, matured and learned better. More power to you!

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