What it looked like when I came out as bisexual in the workplace
- Posted on September 21, 2021
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
This week it’s Bisexual Visibility Day. I believe it’s time we acknowledge bisexuality, as it is often not acknowledged outside and even within the queer community. This is partly due to the many myths and misconceptions about bisexuality that need to be confronted. One of the misconceptions that I have personally experienced is “You are either straight or you are gay.”
Last year, I was discovering my sexuality. When I told people I was dating a woman for the first time, some of them asked me: “Are you lesbian now?” For me, the answer was quite obviously “No.” I had always felt attracted to men and what I was discovering about liking women came in addition to that. I didn’t understand why people would directly assume I was lesbian. I know that the people who asked this question didn’t mean to cause offense, but without asking an open question, they were suddenly labelling me without asking the right information. I realized this would be my new reality. Either I am dating a woman and people will label me as lesbian, or I am dating a man and people will assume I am heterosexual. People tend to forget about bisexuality (along with other sexual identities such as pan, abro, queer and many more), and that’s why Bisexual Visibility Day is important to me. By making assumptions you can not always see the whole truth. Raising visibility can broaden everyone’s horizon make people aware of the different possibilities in sexuality.
What helps in raising visibility is having bisexual role models. As a Netflix-addict, the role models that are most important to me are the ones I see in movies and TV shows. Having those visible role models is a way of saying to bi+ community: “It is okay to be who you are” (thank you for helping me in my journey, Kat from “The Bold Type”). But it’s also a way to show allies how to respond to LGBT+ people coming out, or how not to respond (looking at you, Jenny from “Workin’ Moms”).
In the end, I hope we can let go of the need to label everyone. I am who I am, no matter what label other people choose for me. I do want to use the label bisexual to describe myself, as it now feels part of me. By being visible myself, I want to contribute to normalizing being bisexual, not having to choose between either straight or gay, and taking away the misconceptions. At work, I am visible as the local Prism Lead for the LGBT+ network in the Netherlands, where I contribute by promoting allyship and raising awareness.
Last year, I came out during a Coming Out session with 70 people in the call by telling everyone my personal story. Telling my story to so many people was nerve-racking and liberating at the same time. The responses I received during and after the call were incredible, positive and overwhelming. I am proud to work for a company that aligns with my values and works toward a world in which we welcome each and everyone to be themselves. At Avanade we are raising awareness around LGBT+ throughout the year, which hopefully ensures people can be their true selves. Having come out myself in the workplace, my advice to you is to make sure you do not pick a label for anyone else besides yourself. If someone comes out to you, just listen to them. Challenge your assumptions and the stereotypes you might have, and start an honest conversation with open questions to get to know someone.