Hello, Thanks for doing this interview with me. First of all, could you tell me a little about yourself and how you identify yourself – sexually and otherwise.
Hello! My name is Kristopher and I am a 35 year old man from the state of Maine in northeast USA. I identify as a bisexual man and I am married to a straight woman and we have three children. Not sure how much you want to know but I was also in the Army for eight years and worked in a combat support hospital as a surgical technologist in the operating room. This is the person who passes instruments to the doctor, retracts organs, and other type of things. I’ve been doing that for the past seventeen years (joined the army right after high school, before college) and now I am two semesters shy of my BS in Sociology. Forgive me if that was more than you wanted.
Tell me about where you grew up and how it was coming out. Did you face any prejudices and how did you deal with this?
I grew up in a small town in Maine, approximately thirty thousand people. Maine is a fairly isolated place in the north-eastern USA and the whole state had a population of only two million when I grew up there, so you can imagine that it was very rural. I didn’t come out when I was in Maine, and, in fact, I didn’t truly come out completely until about five years ago, but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t know much about bisexuality and I also had a lot of trauma in my life that didn’t allow me to explore that piece of myself.
I did have a few experiences with guys when I was younger, but it wasn’t very serious or deep, and I had an extreme fear of being found out. My town, although fairly accepting of people, was not very open to gay relationships back in the 90s and I was constantly asked if I were gay, or was being called a faggot for most of my school years. So you can imagine that it wasn’t something I was comfortable being open about or exploring too much. But, I knew that even if I didn’t know what to call it, that I liked both guys and girls. I suppose, in many ways, I tried to convince myself that it was just a fluke because I liked girls and that must have meant that I wasn’t gay – so I just had to get past it. I wish I had known more then because it took me years to accept that part of myself. I guess this is where people get straight privilege from; I hid my bisexuality by dating only women. However, that never stopped people from asking if I was gay all the way into adulthood. Many times I felt ashamed because I was hiding something I knew to be a part of who I am.
Have you always been open about being bisexual to everyone?
As I said before, I only came out fully about five years ago. But, I did try to come out to some close friends of mine many times over the years. Through my own ignorance, I kind of thought bisexuality was more of a female thing. There were times that I talked to close friends and I was like: “You know, I think I may be gay.” They would reply with: “Well, have you been with a guy before?” I would say not really, and they would ask me if I liked women, and I would say yes, of course I do, and it would end with, well then, you aren’t gay.
I tried telling one of my closest friends once that I though I may be bisexual and he laughed at me, saying that only women can be bisexual. So, as you can imagine, it only caused me to try to push it further down. When I first met my wife I was struggling with it a lot because I had become keenly aware of my attraction to men, and over the years I had pushed advances away (I wish I hadn’t). There was a particular guy I worked with who was openly gay, and showed attraction, flirted and even joked about being with me. I wanted to so badly, but I was too afraid and never pursued it.
Anyway, I told my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time that I was attracted to men, and she freaked thinking I was gay. I laughed it off and pushed it even further down. We didn’t talk about it again until six years into our marriage when I told her I was bisexual. It was real – not a phase, and I refuse to stay married for the rest of my life pretending this part of me doesn’t exist.
How do you approach this when in relationships?
I never really talked about it. I think some of my girlfriends had suspicions about my attraction to men, but as I said, many people I have encountered see it as gay or not gay for men, and so I just stuck with my attraction to women and kept that part hidden. I would have gay guys flirt with me constantly, and express a desire to fool around, but as much as I wanted to, I was so scared I never let my self be comfortable with it.
Again, due to trauma in my life, and growing up in a small town in Maine, I didn’t feel like I had the luxury to accept that part, or think that deeply about myself.
Do you feel when you are in a relationship with one sex or the other people view you as gay or straight and how does this affect you personally?
Well, since I’ve never had a full official and open relationship with a guy before, I don’t know that I could answer this question properly. But, I would say that being in a relationship with a woman – people assume that it is a straight relationship. Obviously, I’m bisexual so no relationship I’ve ever been in is truly a straight relationship. But, I didn’t know enough to understand that. I would say though that it definitely affected me mentally and all that suppression for so long was not good for me and my mental health.
Do you think as you grew up there was a lack of awareness and education of all sexualities?
Without a doubt. There was little to no education about these things where I grew up and a ton of prejudice about it. Bisexuality, in particular, was seen as much more taboo than being gay. It was seen as a problem of character in that you were just hyper sexual, or that you couldn’t accept that you were truly gay. I would say this was a huge factor in the suppression of my sexuality. I would even go as far as to say that if I had been gay and not bisexual, I would have been able to accept myself sooner because being gay, although looked down on, was not as taboo as being bisexual.
When growing up do you think bisexuality was cloaked by the larger visible parts if the acronym?
I’m not sure, but I would say that it was seen as “worse” than being gay for where I grew up. More of a stepping stone to being gay, or simply a hyper sexuality that was more associated with slutty women. I wish it had not been that way. It would have saved me a lot of years of confusion and depression. It also would have allowed me to explore same sex relationships that I really wanted to explore but never did because I was so fearful. I don’t regret much in my life, but I do regret not being able to explore my sexuality during the years that you should be able to do that.
Is there a message you would like to share with anyone who are questioning their sexuality?
My message would be to be strong. Be brave and trust in your gut. Trust your instincts and never be ashamed of who you are. It doesn’t matter where you fit in the acronym, what matters is that you were made how you were made and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s not a new thing, these things have been around since man became conscious of itself. It is today’s society that has the problem, not you. Be true to who you are. There are people out there who understand what you are going through and a community that will embrace you, lift you up, and lend you strength.
There is always hope, and through hope can find community, through community you find acceptance, and through acceptance you can find peace.