Advice from Workshops: Coming Out

Last month I presented a workshop on coming out at London BiFest 2017. You can read more about it here.

As part of the workshop I asked participants to share their tips & advice on coming out and said that I would post it online afterwards so people can use it as a resource.

Every time I present this workshop I will add to the list- but please feel free to comment below if you would like to contribute anything.


  • Learning facts about bisexuality (e.g. studies have shown there are more bisexuals than the number of lesbians and gays put together) can help you respond to people’s negative comments (‘But bis don’t exist!’) and give you resilience. You know you’re not alone.
  • Sassy comebacks:
    • “No I’m bi, you’re confused!”
    • Answering “I’m 100% bisexual.” if anyone asks what percentage you’re attracted to different genders.
  • Asses how much time/energy you have left to give? If anyone has questions or wants a discussion you can refuse to answer, delay answering until another day, or talk away. It’s up to you. You don’t have to be anyone’s educator or ignorance buster. Nor do you have to explain yourself or justify your sexuality.
  • But if you want to, you can prep answers to questions in advance because sometimes it’s hard to speak in the moment.
  • Choose a place where you can leave easily and/or choose a place where leaving is the normal thing to do. E.g. the kitchen. Makes things safer and less awkward.
  • ‘Lead bi example’ – if you come out like being bisexual is absolutely fine and normal (which it is) then other people are more likely to respond in the same way. (Much better than starting with something like ‘I HAVE SOME DIFFICULT NEWS PLEASE DON’T BE UPSET!’
  • Say what you want the other person to do. E.g. I’m telling you, but don’t tell anyone else.
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Traveling To Meet Family I Never Knew I Had

I remember what it was like to come out to my family. I know what it is like to still not be able to tell all of them. And in the past I’ve written about what it’s like when a  bereavement takes away the chance of ever being able to say.

I remember all the time spent as a teenager and as an adult, not knowing whether the people in my family would accept or reject me or fall somewhere in between. Agonising year after year after year about whether it’s safe to come out and if so, when and how to go about it. For me it’s painful and stressful and a slow form of torture you have to carry with you every single day when all you want is to be wanted and loved unconditionally for who you are.

For many of us deaths, divorces, and new relationships change the shape of our families and people can find themselves having to go through all off the above for a SECOND TIME. This was the case for me when a step-family came into my life. (Although I wouldn’t wish for things to be any different because I’m happy that my dad and step-mum have been able to find love and happiness together.)

Now, from a very young age I’ve known that my dad was adopted. I never thought much of it because I was told never to mention it and I loved the grandparents I knew. It was a shock at the time, but as far as I was concerned my adoptive grandparents were my family and the mysterious biological relatives out there somewhere was something I never really had a concept of anyway.

When I was in my early 20s my dad decided to look for his family and some time later contact was made. I’m delighted to say it was a positive reunion for all involved. However it was still a huge thing for me to try and get my head round as after my birth grandma was forced to give my dad up for adoption she was sent to America and went on to have four more children. This means I have many aunties, uncles, and cousins (plus their babies) in another continent.

Part of the reason I put off flying out to America to meet them for so long was because for me that means having to go through the above for a third time. A THIRD TIME!! And this time having A LOT of people to get to know and work out whether it’s safe to come out to them or not. And if it all ends badly I will be alone and nowhere near home.

I am sat a plane to America as I type and I feel a lot of things; happiness, excitement, sadness. Grief for the time we never got to spend together. Grief for the grandparents I never knew. (My birth grandma passed away a decade ago. Birth grandad remains unknown.) However most of all I’m afraid that my recently discovered biological family will be biphobic. I feel very vulnerable and emotional right now and unable to face any negative reactions or rejection that might arise. I wish I could just dance out of Arrivals singing “I’m beautiful and bi!” whilst doing jazz hands or something and they’d go, “Awesome!” and we’d hug but sadly life is never that simple. Or stylish.

But one thing I’ve realised is that if I fear or expect any biphobia then I am being just as prejudiced as I fear they might be. I would be judging them before I know them and thinking less of them. That’s not it’s not a nice thing for me to do and it’s not very nice or fair for them. So despite being utterly terrified and emotionally exhausted I am doing my best to have an open heart and an open mind as I fly over the Atlantic.