For many people, coming out as Bi to someone can be confusing...for the other party. There always come questions, like my personal favorite, “Are you sure it's not a phase?” There are already issues of Bi-erasure at hand, where people don't believe bisexuality is a thing and only want to put someone's sexuality in a neat box or label that makes sense to them. But imagine being a Latinx parent where gender roles in your culture are strict and unchanging and having to confront bisexuality for the first time.
When I came out to my parents, their reaction was to send me to therapy. I was told I was too young at 13 to know. I was told that I was not raised that way. I was told that my friend, “who always looked a little rara,” turned me gay and they forbid me from ever seeing her again. They were convinced something was wrong with me because they couldn't understand where they went wrong. I wore dresses as little girl and had long hair – how could I like women?
For my parents, it was like I had the choice to be normal, but was choosing not to be. They didn't understand why I would choose to disappoint them. In my mother's eyes, I was dangling the possibility of having a normal life but choosing to be gay and ruin her hopes for me. They wanted me to fit into a box they could understand. Now, as a 24-year-old woman, I can honestly say I have no idea if they know I’m bi. I never brought a girl home and we never spoke about it again.
That seems like the standard in so many Latinx families: a culture of silence that prevents any kind of meaningful connection that is necessary for a healthy relationship. It's the idea that if you don’t talk about the issue, it’ll go away and no one will have to deal with it. This attitude finds its way into so many aspects of parenting: talking to kids about their periods, the human body, mental health issues, and sexuality. I wish I had answer as to why we do this to ourselves. Why do we seem to be more worried about what society might think when it's so damaging our relationships?
With a culture that is so tied to heteronormative gender roles, I would argue that coming out as bisexual feels a lot more complicated when your family is Latinx. On top of the general confusion people have when understanding bisexuality, Latinx bisexuals have the added difficulty of dealing with our culture's gender norms. It's hard enough for a Latinx family to understand that their child doesn't fit into the heteronormative narrative: boy meets girl, boy marries girl, and boy gives parents grandchildren – happy ending for everyone.
There is an expectation that you follow this path and do not stray, lest the rest of your family talk behind your back and judge you and your parenting skills (let's face it, Latinx families can be the absolute WORST to each other in regards to spilling tea). If your child is gay, at least Latinx parents can have a clear sense of who their child will be bringing home and what that will look like in terms of gender roles – there is only one gender to contend with (issues of gender being a social construct aside in this context). But if you're bi, you’re happy ending can include any gender role and that's just too out of the box for some parents
When you have a society that is so ready to denounce bisexuality as an excuse to be promiscuous or just a phase of confusion, it makes it that much more difficult for Latinx parents to understand what being bi means and how that works within a Latinx family dynamic. There are so many expectations put on Latinx children, especially if they are first-generation. We have to do better than our parents and make our parents look good doing it because they sacrificed so much for us to be here. They can't tell Tia Lupe back home Zuleima got married to a woman. In their eyes, “choosing” to make life more difficult for ourselves when we already have the difficulty of being people of color makes no sense, and even less so if we identify as women, another knock against us in society.
I know my parents only want the best for me, and I know they love me, but choosing to live my authentic self when my authentic self will close doors for me is a concept I might never be able to explain to them, if I ever get the chance.
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