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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The week of September 16th through September 23rd is known as Bisexual Awareness Week or simply #BiWeek. It’s a time to recognize a part of the LGBTQ+ community that often gets overlooked. This Bi Week, I wanted to talk a little bit about my experience coming out as bisexual as a college senior in her early 20s.

Growing up, I did not have a lot of access to queer role models, in particular queer women, and especially not bisexual women. I grew up thinking that I was a straight girl because of the lack of representation for bisexuals. However, when I was about seventeen, I started watching a show called Jane the Virgin (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you watch it ASAP). In the show, there’s a feisty, fashion-forward blonde woman by the name of Petra Solano. She quickly became my favorite character and I related to her in many ways. Towards the end of the series, Petra starts dating a woman named Jane Ramos (JR for short). Petra falls for JR without any thought for her gender and comes out to some of the other characters as bisexual after making this discovery about her identity. This made me like Petra even more and relate to her on a whole other level, but I had no idea why Petra’s coming out was so important to me at the time. I like to say seeing this show and its bisexual representation pushed me to examine my own identity a little further and was one of the reasons I realized I was bi.

Since then, there have been other bisexual women in film, TV, and the celebrity world that I have looked up to as well but I did not make the connection to my own identity until later. For example, Lake Meriwether from the Hulu show Love, Victor is another TV character that I automatically related to because of her flirty nature, gravitation towards fashion trends and celebrity gossip, and her unwavering dedication to her friends. At the end of the second season, the show sets up a teaser for a romantic relationship between Lake and another girl. Much like my experience with Petra, this made me like Lake even more and resonate even more deeply with her character. 

My experiences with these characters made me deeply question my identity. I started toying around with the label of “bisexual” for myself in my head and I liked the way using that label made me feel. I felt validated and understood and like I had found a place. However, I was too scared of being mistaken about my identity and realizing later down the line that I wasn’t actually bi so I decided to bury all of this and continue to ignore it. Throughout the past couple of years, I continually went back and forth about coming out and then would go back to being in denial. But this past summer I finally decided to brave all of the repercussions and be true to myself. 

Coming to college gave me an opportunity to interact with people who had had vastly different experiences to my own. This opened my eyes to the world around me and how there’re so many different ways to express yourself. College gives you the opportunity to be yourself without as much judgment (hopefully) as you might experience in high school and/or your hometown. Coming to college and being exposed to new people and new experiences paved the way for me to feel comfortable accepting myself for who I am and growing in my identity. 

As silly as it sounds, TikTok was one of the tools that helped me feel validated and comfortable in my identity as bisexual and helped me come out. Anyone who knows anything about TikTok knows it’s an ongoing joke that the algorithm is a little bit too on the nose and will often call people out, even for stuff they did not realize about themselves. I downloaded TikTok in late 2019 as an innocent college sophomore looking for cute cat videos and funny vlogs. What I got instead was validation of the thing I had been trying to avoid for the past couple of years: ain’t no lie, I’m bi, bi, bi. The more I tried to ignore the siren’s call of the algorithm’s message, the more it seemed to target me. This summer I finally decided to stop running and face it head-on. Instead of brushing off these targeted videos, I used them as education and resources for myself as I accepted my new title and prepared to come out to the people in my life. 

At first, I tried to be subtle about it and send my friends funny bisexual TikToks I related to in hopes they would make the connection themselves. Sadly this backfired and I had to just be vulnerable and come out to them very plainly. I opened up the conversation by joking about how I was only going to date women from then on during a storytime about one of my exes. They were all in support and encouraged me to do that if that made me happy and I followed up my joke with a simple, “oh yeah, by the way, I’m bisexual.” Luckily, my friends were and still are incredibly supportive of me and I’ve been incredibly lucky to have them during this process and in my life in general.

Coming out in my 20s has been an interesting experience. I felt so certain and secure about a lot of the aspects of my identity but with my coming out realization my whole world was changed. I’ve now had to deal with some of the uglier sides of coming out like biphobia and bi-erasure in addition to the positive sides of the coming out process. I’m now hyperaware of the homophobic jokes people make around me or the other nasty things queer people have to face on a daily basis. I had dulled my senses to these things over the years because I did not want to deal with them and I felt like trading my identity for a sense of peace and protection from these things was worth it. Since coming out, I’ve felt invalidated, ashamed, and disheartened. There were times I debated remaining out to only my friends and pretending to be straight for everyone else. While I do have to be careful about who I’m out to, I’m tired of hiding in the closet and I’m ready to fly my bi-pride flag high. 

To anyone else who is struggling with their identity or coming out, I want to encourage you to take everything at your own pace and seek the guidance of friends or a mentor to help you. 

Follow the attached link for a list of resources:

Fourth-year marketing student at James Madison University and aspiring Disney princess that's obsessed with the Bachelor franchise, my cats, and iced vanilla lattes.
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