Something unexpected happened three years ago. Yours truly became a stepdad.
Can you imagine the bisexual living his best Samantha Jones life was suddenly in a relationship and parenting a small child?
Coming out as a bi stepdad
When we discuss coming out, we often think about kids having to tell their parents but that’s not always the case.
Early on I asked myself the question ‘do I need to come out to my stepson?’ I admit, part of me questioned if seven years old was too young.
There wasn’t any worry that he would have a problem with it. I was worried about him mentioning it at school and the other kids making fun of him for having a bi stepdad.
As a bisexual, I’ve seen my girlfriend take the brunt of ignorance for dating me. I didn’t want that for my kid.
Bisexuals are in a unique situation
Bisexuals are in a unique situation when it comes to ‘coming out’ to their children. For kids with gay or lesbian parents it’s quite apparent that they have two moms or two dads.
For bisexuals, our invisibility means we can hid it if we choose. This is both a blessing and a curse.
The issue is more common than some might realize. Researchers have found two-thirds of bisexuals say they either already have or want children compared with about half of lesbians and three-in-10 gay men.
Obviously bisexual parents come in a range of forms. Some may be in opposite sex relationships, some may be in same-sex relationships and others may be single. Each variation bringing its set of challenges with regard to coming out.
Researchers also found 84% of bisexuals who are already in a committed relationship are dating someone of the ‘opposite sex’, making a ’straight facing’ relationship one of the most common situations for a bisexual to find themselves in.
I looked online for advice. However, there didn’t seem to be many people sharing their experience.
Ultimately I decided to tell my little boy. Firstly, because he is a survivor and look out anyone that challenges him.
Secondly, because being bisexual isn’t a choice, it is as much a part of me as my skin color and I don’t want to hide it.
Selfishly, I also don’t care to be in the closet in any form. I don’t want that situation where I have to gender flip my ex-boyfriend in a story because my kid thinks I’m straight.
Surprisingly, when I approached the subject of telling him with my girlfriend, she turned around and said ‘he already knows.’
Apparently, he had asked my girlfriend himself if I was bisexual in a chat they had about LGBTI people. I just clearly scream bi from one look.
It actually felt good to know what my son had known for months and it was so inconsequential to him that he hadn’t even bothered mentioning the fact that his stepdad had dated men.
Since then it’s come up in conversation a few times but, to be honest, he really couldn’t care less. His stepdad is bisexual and that’s just a fact of life to him.
Of course, one of my worries was about other peoples ignorance creeping in and that did happen.
He once watched a video of me online discussing bisexuality and then scrolled down to the rather negative comments. For a few weeks he did keep repeating ‘stop rubbing your sexuality in my face.’ That was one of the most popular comments on the video.
I can’t shield him from other peoples view of my sexuality, not online or in the playground.
But just by being in his life everyday it’s obvious that prejudice wont stick.
For bisexual parents out there or for the ones that do plan to have kids all I can say is it’s about leading by example.
We all want our kids to be happy and comfortable in their own skin.
If your child were LGBTI or had anything they were worried about you would want them to tell you.
One man I spoke to was worried that telling his kids would scare them and that they might think things would change.
Worrying about coming out to your kids is natural, it means you want to get it right.
Coming out to our kids can be done in a variety of ways, it’s about finding the way that works for you.
Whether it’s sitting them down and telling them, dropping in to conversation that you find someone of the same-sex attractive or taking them to Pride to show them.
Ultimately my son gets to have first hand experience of an LGBTI person and that helps him understand the world better.
Can you imagine how reassuring it will be if a friends of his one day comes out and his response is ‘cool, so is my step-dad’?
Lewis Oakley is a weekly bisexual correspondent on Gay Star News. Follow him on Twitter.