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So was I bisexual then, or shift to it recently?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by DecentOne, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. DecentOne

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    Ok, those who know me on EC remember when I first joined I thought I was here as a straight ally.

    Then in 2018 I went to a therapist and clarified some things, based on a sudden shift of my fantasies to same-sex situations (whereas females had been the focus since adolescence).

    I’m posting this in the Later-in-Life section rather than in the sexual orientation or coming out sections. I’m more than half way through my lifespan, married, with adult children grown up and out of the house.

    That shift in fantasy and orientation was unexpected (I know, I’m a late bloomer!), but fully embraced by me.

    I’ve pretty much said that perhaps I would have identified bisexuality earlier in my life if people had used the word (mostly folks talked about “gay OR straight).

    But I was tossing some old stuff, and I came across papers I’d saved from a workshop I’d taken years ago (1992). It was a workshop to help straight allies know more about LGB stuff (I don’t see “T” in the materials), the existence of PFLAG, etc. There is a whole folder of papers on bisexuality, a directory of bisexual support groups compiled by Robyn Ochs (“a service of the East Coast Bisexual Network”) and a poor photocopy of “Using the Klein Scale to Teach about Sexual Orientation.” So I did learn about bisexuality, or at least got the handouts. I never filled out the Klein Scale, so perhaps I was just gathering materials to be a useful ally.

    I reflected with my wife that I don’t think any of this stuff uncovered any bisexual awareness in me at the time. Am I suppressing a memory? I don’t think so, as I recall one or two other aspects of the overall workshop. So now I know I knew about bisexuality at least by that point in my life, but thought I was straight. My life rewards that assessment of being straight: Given my relationship with my wife, never having been aroused by a guy, that would make sense.

    And it was pretty clear I was not homophobic (otherwise I wouldn’t have wanted to go to this workshop to be a better ally). There would be no reason to suppress bisexual awareness of myself. My family would not have rejected me. I would not have lost my job. My religion would not have rejected me either.

    This is the tricky part - because this old file of papers could have “taken me back” to some inkling of bisexuality, but it doesn’t. The workshop didn’t set me off on a path of self discovery. So was I not bisexual then, even though I am bisexual now?

    As I said, I’m very accepting of being bisexual, very much glad for every opportunity to be out. I’m just curious because my previous explanation of being unaware until recently just doesn’t fit anymore. This collection of old materials puts me back into the “I was straight, now I’m bisexual - it was a shift in late life” mindset.
     
  2. LostInDaydreams

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    It could also be that you were completely oblivious. I was with regards to being gay.

    In retrospect I can see that there were some fairly obvious signs, and like you, it’s not like I avoided exposure to LGBT+ things. I studied history at university, including the history of gender and sexuality. I wrote essays on it and delivered presentations. I didn’t hide my interest in it, as all my friends knew it was likely what my essays, etc. would be about. But, at no point during reading all those books and journals, did I think that I was anything other than straight.
     
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  3. DecentOne

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    Thanks for sharing that part of your experience @LostInDaydreams , it could be I was oblivious.

    One of the things I remember from that workshop was something of the coming out stories shared by presenters. I have always liked coming out stories. I thought it was because I very much like people being able to be fully themselves, and it always sounded somewhat heroic. Maybe all this “academic” study “about others” was a way of preparing me for this at a future stage of life. In the meantime I was helpful in being an ally. I don’t like thinking of myself as oblivious though. I like thinking of myself as a fairly reflective person, who is aware of self and others.

    I was hoping the materials would trigger an “ah ha” moment, helping things fit together well. It didn’t have any emotional tug to it though, no inkling that “this shows you were thinking about this yourself”. There are other things in my past that I can reinterpret with my newfound embrace of being bisexual, but this does not seem to be one of them. There was a workshop/training a couple years ago where I noticed quite a bit of energy rising in me, an urgency surrounded the LGBTQ topics. I don’t remember any of that from 1992.
     
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  4. Nickw

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    @DecentOne

    I always find your posts so interesting. That is that you discover your bisexuality later in life with such limited clues. It does almost seem like, for you, it appeared from nowhere.

    I'm not discounting your experience when I comment here. But, is it possible that you diminished your same sex attractions because they did not seem important or worthy of further exploration so you ignored them? I know that I always could be attracted by the underwear ad showing an attractive male. But, I would turn the catalogue page (really dating myself here) and see the women. I could apply more importance to how the women made me feel. I think I did this intentionally. The thought of having intimacy with a woman was the direction I was supposed to go. The direction that society demanded of me. And, it felt really good to fantasize about what I saw.

    Even though, after a time, I recognized that I did have an attraction to men, I considered it a kink. After I became sexually active, I think I went a decade with out any attraction to men. I don't remember any time during my thirties that I was turned on by a man. Maybe I just denied it. But, there was so much I needed to do with my life and my marriage that I didn't need the interruption.

    Are we, as bisexuals, capable of completely compartmentalizing our attractions? Or, did you really change?

    My thought is that I can be totally consumed with the thought of either a man or a woman. Certainly, I was that way when I met my wife and, recently, when I met my boyfriend. So, if I can switch back and forth with such clarity, who's to say that the switch might not get thrown at all until later in life for someone else? I don't know...just my thoughts...
     
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  5. DecentOne

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    Thanks for your thought provoking reply @Nickw ,
    I know that my attraction to girls was rewarded by peers (society) in middle and high school. When something is reinforced, it becomes stronger. I’d been told by teachers when I was young not to keep switching hands as I wrote - I was doing it because my hands got tired. I think of that in relation to bisexuality. Only one desk in each room had an inkwell on the left (no, I’m not so old that I used inkwells in school, but the school was that old!). Much easier to be a right handed student. I have wondered if I would have been more bisexual as a young man if I’d had reinforcement of that side of myself. I’m lucky that I had friends and family who didn’t act homophobic, so I didn’t think it was wrong if I noticed a guy from time to time. It was just a side thing (I wouldn’t have called it kink in my case, not sure I had a concept of that. My counselor called the evidence weak that I was bisexual as a young person, from what I was recalling to him in our sessions. I’ve remembered a bit more over the past couple years, so maybe I could say that early evidence was more than weak when I really look at it now with fresh perspective. Still, how is it in 1992, with literature in my hands about bisexuality, why didn’t it stir some self awareness?

    Yeah, it does feel like I shifted.

    There are a couple people in my life who might be able to call me on my obliviousness, if it really is that. My best friend from high school, who ended up coming out right after getting out into job and adulthood is one. We knew each other pretty well. The other might be one of my college roommates, as his girlfriend admitted to me that she and he thought maybe I was gay, and that it would be ok if I was. (But I liked women, and thought she was quite hot, so easily dismissed it). As I’ve said before, if either of them had asked if I liked some guys at least a little, on top of fantasizing about women all the time, and then pointed out it was bisexuality, maybe I would not have so easily dismissed it. But again 1992 is after all that, and it didn’t budge my self perception. And both those guys are out of touch with me now, one of them I have no clue how to reach (no one does), and the other never got back to me when I tried several years ago.

    At the moment my bisexuality just feels dead. I’m not hanging out with the LGBTQ family, or anyone, because of COVID-19. No pride events are happening. I’m going to talk with my counselor about that this week. But I’m still (literally) flying the rainbow flag, and coming out to more of our friends.
     
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  6. Nickw

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    @DecentOne

    It looks like maybe there were some indications, early on, of your same sex attractions. There are some parallels in our history. I too had a best friend who came out after college. I think you are a few years younger than I. So, maybe this is different for you. But, I could never “check” the “yep gay” boxes when I was young. I was 22 before I learned that there was such a thing called bisexual (learned it when a bi guy wanted to fool around).

    I also was a kid who had a deep romantic notion of love/sex. I never fantasized during masturbation. I sought only relief. But, I fell deeply in love with this cute girl that I just obsessed over all the way through junior high school and high school. I could see nothing else but how I wanted to be with her. So, that consumed a big part of my attractions. But, even with that going on I would feel this draw to a part of a male (lower stomach) and the feeling was like hunger. It was just too big a reach to build on that attraction and create a desire for sex with a guy.

    I know you are on this search for self awareness. It seems like at this point the later in life man you are understands and accepts himself. You may never understand the origins of your sexuality. Maybe that’s OK? This is just a random thought. Are you concerned that the “shift” might go “full gay”?

    The CV thing has put a cramp on my journey too. I had no Pride this year. I’ve been unable to hang out with my gay group. I feel this strange pull to just hide out. It’s hard to grow right now isn’t it?
     
  7. DecentOne

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    My wife is fearful that I will shift to gay. I don’t think I will.

    Yes I accept myself, I’m embracing my bisexuality. And I accept that I may not get answers about my shift to bisexual. My first therapist didn’t think it was important to have those answers, or not as important as dealing with my wife’s emotional roller coaster ride or planning how I’d set goals. I’ve enjoyed looking back over my life and finding more about myself, with that therapist or my current one (or on my own).
     
  8. dirtyshirt84

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    Hi decent one

    Just wanted to add my 2 cents. I wonder if that the fact you were at an LGBT workout, even at that time as an ally was a sign in itself. The fact you also like coming out stories.

    I used to go to some club nights which were very gay friendly and I remember commenting to my friends at the time that I really enjoyed them. I guess I felt at home there. Now I know why...haha. At the time I would have considered myself mostly straight.

    I think it’s common to surround yourself with gay culture and gay friends even when you haven’t realised your sexuality yet.

    I suppose it is also an intense attraction to someone of the same sex that will make most of us consciously aware for the first time. Perhaps you just never met a man you felt that way about back then?

    As Nick says, as bisexuals (Im Bi too), I think it might be possible to compartmentalise our attractions at times.
     
  9. dirtyshirt84

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    Sorry for all the typos :slight_smile:
     
  10. DecentOne

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    Thanks dirtyshirt84,
    I am glad I felt comfortable going to the workshop back in the 90’s. And my being seen as a straight ally really made a difference in past decades, to those who didn’t see enough allies, and for folks who hadn’t thought about being one. It gives me a warm feeling to look back. I don’t know that it was a sign of anything other than my lack of homophobia, but if it was motivated subconsciously by some sort of inner awareness that I was making room for future bisexual me in the world, that’s ok too (sounds very pragmatic, less noble).

    I remember having a crush (squish?) on a very nice guy back in middle school, and telling him. He rebuffed me nicely. I haven’t had a catalyst as an adult. This bisexual awareness just seems to be emerging from within.