Bi Anxiety: On coming out again.

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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

She was a friend from years back, in town on business. We met at her hotel for a drink. We talked and caught up: What’s it like where you live? Do you like your job? Are you busy, happy and fulfilled? Conversation was easy, intimate. One drink turned to two, two drinks turned to five, and soon it was two a.m. She asked me up to her room. With our clothes in a pile on the floor, the bed sheets twisted and our bodies intertwined, she pulled me closer still and whispered in my ear, "I thought you were gay." I took a breath and whispered back, "I thought you were married."

Lately, I’ve been a bad homosexual.

When I first started having sex with men, I was in the closet. It was like some other version of myself would venture off to gay bars on the other side of town. It was exciting. It felt forbidden and dangerous. I was a spy with an amazing, horrible secret.

I worried that my nervousness would make me queen out.

Envisioning myself every bit the bohemian, I came out to everyone as bisexual. (Except my parents. I told them I was gay because I didn’t want to give them any hope.) I dated and slept with both men and women, sometimes together. The gay scene, as I saw it, left me cold. I believed that I had very little in common with the out gay people I knew. I just wanted to have sex with men without changing who I was. I had visions of a brave new world — well, it seemed new to me, anyway. But then again, I was on drugs.

A few years later, I began to reassess my life. I had to put a stop to certain chemical bad habits. I had to calm down, I had to simplify, I had to focus. Although I was still attracted to both men and women, I felt that I had to come out as gay.

So I found gay men who, like myself, were into indie rock and ‘zines, comic books and this new thing called the internet. I learned that bisexuality was just a phase gay men go through during the coming-out process. I got boyfriends and went to Gay Pride and gay bars. In short order, I was not just gay, I was Super Gay.

But sometimes, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head, not unlike Peggy Lee’s, saying, "Is that all there is?"

Hannah was the first girl who caused me to backslide. She was a Damaged Jewish Girl, and I consider myself a Damaged Jewish Girl on the inside. We’d both been through bad breakups and consoled each other constantly. We spent hours on the phone and walking the city talking about life, art, politics, religion and other things that felt important. One spring evening, we were walking along the West Side Highway returning from a rooftop party downtown. We stopped to rest and look out over New Jersey. After a moment of awkward silence, we turned to each other and, instead of speaking, we made out. We took a taxi back to my place for some intense sex that started a three-month cycle of fucking and fighting.

That first night with Hannah, I was nervous. It had been seven years since I’d sex with a woman, and although I knew what to do on a basic level — slot A, tab B — I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to act the part: throwing her up against a wall and banging her, talking dirty, keeping it up for hours until she begged for more of my rock-hard cock. I was nervous that my nervousness would make me queen out and she’d think she was in bed with Carson Kressley. So I turned all Woody Allen, fumbling, neurotic and talkative: "Um, so, you know, would you mind so much if maybe I took off your bra?"

Our mutual awkwardness soon had us laughing, and we relaxed. We were just two friends, naked. Then, as we got more naked and intimate, things took a turn for the serious. "No, stop," she said."I’m bad."

Suddenly, I was in more familiar territory. When I have sex with men, I like it playful but rough. I crave the rush of wrestling for power and the subsequent flush of victory or release of submission. Like many gay men, I seek to reclaim that sense of danger and transgression that accompanied sex when it was new. At that moment with Hannah, I realized that I didn’t have to be afraid about "acting like a man" — she was telling me how to act, what she wanted.

"Yes, you’ve been very bad," I told her. "And that’s why I’m not going to stop."

In that moment, Hannah and I gave each other permission to go to some dark places. It was exciting to be with a woman again. It was new and different. Forbidden, even. I liked the feel of a soft body against mine. I liked going down on her. I liked watching her go down on me. And I liked the ease of fucking a girl. Man-on-man ass-fucking is a lot of work, whether you’re on top or bottom. It’s a pretty small hole, the angle is awkward, and it takes preparation that can really kill the mood.With Hannah, the sex was good because we trusted each other, talked about what we were doing and kept pushing each other to try new things. And because it seemed really fucked-up, and we both live for high drama. We did it in my apartment, in her apartment and in the bathroom next to my parents’ bedroom while visiting for the High Holidays. We would go out places, get in a knock-down, drag-out fight and then have rough, name-calling sex, followed by "I’m sorry" sex.

Ultimately, the relationship ended because Hannah was convinced I would leave her for a man. Anytime we walked down the street and saw a hot guy, she’d ask me if I wanted to sleep with him. I told her that even if I did, I wouldn’t, because I was monogamous. That did little to assuage her fears.

The men I’ve dated laugh off bisexuality as crazy talk.

After Hannah and I called it quits, I was convinced that our affair had been a momentary lapse, a weakness, an expression of my inability to make peace with what I really was. So I picked myself up and threw myself back into my queer life with verve and passion. I went to better and more fabulous parties, I had even more sex with strangers in strange places. I went to Gay Days at Disney World and spent summers on Fire Island. I hung out with Twinks and Trolls and Bears, and celebrated all things gay, gay, gay.

But now that I was out and gay (again), the sexual frisson was gone. I would be having sex with some guy and just clocking the minutes until it was over. "Just come already so I can go home," I’d think.  The immediate emotional connections that drive my libido happened less and less. I started feeling as trapped as I did when I was in the closet.

Coming out as bi — especially if you’re already known as gay —is an awkward process. Nobody congratulates you on your courage and buys you a Scissor Sisters CD. One roommate — a closeted lesbian, ironically — accused me of being a "fake homosexual." Even my oldest female friends, the ones who knew me before I came out as gay, seemed dubious. "You just haven’t met the right boy yet," they said. "Are you sure its not just because you want to have a baby?"

My gay male friends are even less receptive to the idea. Usually I present it jokingly, saying, "Oh, I’ve had it with you queens, I’m going back to girls!" But in other moments I’ve talked about it seriously, that I feel attraction and love with both men and women. A friend of mine got angry, saying, "I just hate the idea that a gay man will hit his mid-thirties and suddenly decide to date women. I struggled so long to come out that it just pisses me off."

We don’t talk about it anymore.

When I was dating Hannah, it was awkward to socialize. When we’d go out with her friends who didn’t know I was bi, I often felt like I was trying to pass. Every time we’d go out with my friends, there’d be this weird moment of "Can you explain this please?" that made both of us uncomfortable.

I haven’t dated a woman since Hannah, although I’m still attracted to both genders. I’ve had two long-term boyfriends and many short-term flings with men. And while I’ve had casual sex with a few women, I haven’t had anything like a relationship. If people ask me, I tell them I’m gay. It’s easier.

The hardest part now is coming out as bi to people with whom I am, or would like to be, intimate. I’ve talked about bisexuality with men I’ve dated after we’ve been going out for a while. They usually just laugh it off as crazy talk. It’s harder with women. I met a girl not too long ago; we hit it off and hung out a few times. "At first I thought you were straight," she said, "and then my friends told me you were gay, but it feels like we’ve been going on dates." I said, "Well, I know this sounds retarded, but I identify as bi, and I kind of think we have been going on dates." There was a pause and she said, "That’s cool." But I could tell that it wasn’t.

Eventually, even playas feel the urge to settle down, and now that I’m at that stage, I’ve found that rather than increasing my life-partner options (as would seem statistically probable), my bisexuality has done the opposite, limiting the people who are interested in me to an open-minded and progressive few. After a few false starts, I’m finally being honest about my sexuality, and I’m more open than ever to a committed relationship with a man or a woman. So why am I more alone?  

  Andy Horwitz is a writer and performer living in New York City. His monologues have been called everything from "high-octane, raucous comedy" to "inquisitive and insightful." His writing has appeared in Heeb, The Seattle Stranger and various anthologies. He edits the alternative performance blog Culturebot.org and in 2005 ran for Mayor of New York City, a performance project documented online at andyformayor.org.