James W. Hicks, M.D.

Posts Tagged ‘coming out’

Comedian, Travon Free

In Flexible People on January 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

The young stand-up comedian, author, and former college athlete, Travon Free, has joined the small rank of celebrities who have declared themselves bisexual. His coming out is unusual not only because he is male, but also because he is black. Read his coming-out essay on his blog, which eloquently describes his evolving sense of his sexuality, his challenges and supports, and his relationship to god, religion, the black community, and college friends.

Free describes himself as sexually interested in both boys and girls since he was 14 years old. He’s had relationships with both men and women and is currently in a relationship with another man. He politely resists suggestions that he is “really gay.”

In terms of the sexual types defined in this blog, Free might be ambisexual or flexamorous, two categories which obviously overlap. But why parse, since he is proud and comfortable with the term “bisexual.”

You can also read more about Free on his professional web site, but be sure to read his essay.

One in Three

In Stories* on December 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm

The summer after my junior year in college, we got together for pizza and beer in my parent’s backyard. I hadn’t seen Brad and Jason since Thanksgiving, when my girlfriend at the time was visiting. But now it was just the three of us, like in high school.

After a few drinks, the conversation turned to sex, and Brad did what he does best, showing off some bit of knowledge and putting us on the defensive. He had taken a course on human sexuality to satisfy his college science requirement. “And did you know,” he said, leaning forward over his beer, “That one out of every three men has had sex with another man?” He looked Jason in the eye. “That means, statistically speaking, one of us right here has fucked around with a guy.”

We were all silent for a moment, holding tightly onto our Buds. What a conversation stopper.

Jason was the straightest guy I knew, always bragging about screwing some girl, though he never held onto them for long. And Brad had dated the same girl since high school. We were always stumbling on the two of them having sex behind a tree or in a closet. You could say he was twisted, but he sure as hell wasn’t gay.

“So boys, which one of us has done it?” Brad continued, safe from scrutiny and not letting us off the hook.

I started to sweat.

These guys were my best friends, but I had never told them about the time I fooled around with a frat mate in sophomore year. We got drunk after soccer practice and ended up showering together back at the house, when no one else was around. It started with touching and teasing, and then we ended up in his bed, giving each other head. It never happened again, but I knew I’d do it again with a guy if I had the opportunity. For a couple weeks afterwards I even worried that I might be gay, which was stupid, because I’ve always liked girls and planned to get married.

Could Brad and Jason see that I was the one? I leaned back to take another drink and banged my head against the wind chimes hanging from the rafters of the porch, spilling beer across my chin. I blushed and looked away.

“Don’t be an ass,” Jason said. “None of us is gay.” He looked at me and back at Brad. “And nobody here has fucked a guy. You’ve got a sick mind, man.”

"I Consider My Sexual Preferences a Private Matter"

In Myths on October 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Well, who can blame you? Most of us do not want to be defined by whom we have sex with. But the assumption is that almost everyone is heterosexual, so the pursuit of sexual interests in someone of the same sex can be more difficult unless you have some framework for understanding your interests and communicating them to others.

Gays and lesbians have venues where they can meet others and pursue romance without having to elicit a confession of sexual identification. People who are interested in both men and women could pursue one gender in straight establishments and the other in gay ones. A more liberated approach would be to assume that everyone you meet could be a potential romantic or erotic partner. If everyone is flexible, then there is less need to define yourself and limit your options. You can concentrate instead on finding that spark that develops between you and another woman or man.

Falling in Love with a Friend

In Flexercises on October 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

What should you do if you and a same-sex friend have found yourself unexpectedly fooling around or falling in love with each other? Perhaps you both think of yourselves as straight, and you don’t know how to fit what has happened back into your friendship or your world view or your concept of yourself. Should you just pretend that nothing happened and move on? Should you talk about it with each other? Would you be betraying your friend to talk about it with someone else? Do you want it to happen again, or do you want your friendship to turn into something more?

These are difficult questions, but they are not unique; they also come up when a woman and a man fool around after a long time as just friends. The difference is that many in this situation panic, fearing that they might be gay or be perceived as gay. If you can set that fear aside, recognizing how common these experiences are for otherwise straight men and women, then you will be able to concentrate on working it out with your friend at a relaxed pace. Resist the pressure to figure out what happened; go with the flow. Even if you decide you are gay or lesbian, your friend may not be.

If your friend is in a state of panic or defensive denial, you may want to signal that you do not consider the event to have redefined who you are or your view of your friend or your friendship. He or she may be worried that the special relationship you have is in jeopardy and may need reassurance.

Coming Out as Bisexual

In Flexercises on October 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Coming to terms with ones sexual orientation and coming out to ones friends and family are viewed as markers of a successful adjustment for gays and lesbians, but does the same developmental process apply to those with flexible sexual interests?

How do you come out when your identity is defined by flexibility, experimentation, and open-mindedness rather than labels and categories? Many give up on finding a label. Even some gays and lesbians have surprised themselves (and their friends and family) by coming out a second time as bisexual after discovering that their potential for affection and desire was broader than they had realized.

A Zen-like attitude may be more useful for those who have flexible sexual desires. You do not need to fit into a box. You certainly do not need to define yourself as gay, straight, or bi. Be mindful and accepting of your potential for affection and desire for both sexes, and see where those interests lead you. Recognize that your sexual flexibility is natural and not a shameful and solitary affliction. You should find someone with whom you can speak honestly about these feelings, whether within a friendship, a chat room, or a local club or support group, because it is difficult to keep such feelings completely secret, and you may need someone’s encouragement or advice. But you do not need to tell everyone; if you do, be prepared to explain over and over that no, you are not really gay. Even parents may prefer to think you are gay than to be left in limbo, uncertain with whom you will form your next relationship. (“Alright, Mom, I’m gay. Yes, I’ll go on a date with the nice [boy/girl] you met at church. Give [him/her] my number.”)

If you are in a relationship, should you come out to your partner? It may be easier to reveal your bisexual feelings than to lobby for a threesome, but even talking about your attractions in the abstract carries some risk if your partner holds misconceptions. You might want to approach the topic this way: “Of course I find both women and men attractive. Everyone does to some extent. Men and women aren’t that different from each other.” If asked about your past experiences, you can refer to the high rates of same-sex experiences that even straight men and women have, with reference to the research. Flexible sexual feelings and behaviors cannot be abnormal if they are so universal.

"Does That Mean You Want to Have Sex with Me?"

In Myths on August 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm

If you tell your best friends, will they interpret it as a come-on? Men and women find it safe to talk about their sexual interests when the object of attraction is in another category. Soldiers on leave can whistle at a passing woman on the street. A gay man and his female friend can verbally undress the guys at a bar. But what happens when a male construction worker elbows his buddy and says, “Check out the ass on that guy?” Life becomes more complicated, one way or the other.

Coming out as gay has always posed this problem, though gay men at least have often felt safe confiding in their female friends. Whether you are a man or a woman, and whether you are speaking to a woman or a man, your declaration of bisexuality may raise uncomfortable questions that jeopardize your friendship.

On the other hand, you may find that your friends are wiser and more experienced than you thought, and your friendships may deepen, even while remaining platonic.

Article in CNN Living

In Media on June 28, 2010 at 8:17 pm

The last person out of the closet? The bisexual male
By Stephanie Chen, CNN
June 28, 2010 9:04 a.m. EDT

An article that is neither skeptical nor salacious about the existence of bisexual men, and the challenges of identifying as bisexual.

Keep in mind that the figure quoted of 1.8% refers only to those who explicitly identify themselves as bisexual, not to the much larger numbers of men and women who have had bisexual experiences and attractions.

Stay tuned for a future post which will describe those higher numbers.

Go Girls!

In Flexible People on June 15, 2010 at 11:41 am

Female entertainers have been leaping out of the closet recently.

Christina Aguilera, while promoting her new album Bi-on-ic, told Out magazine this month that her husband knows she’s “into girls… it’s fun to be open and play.” She describes women as more visually attractive than men. However, she goes on to qualify that she could not live without “dick” and cannot really imagine having sex with a woman, because there would be too much “estrogen” in the room. She did not go so far as to call herself bisexual, but her statements reveal flexible thinking. The singer has a young child with her husband of many years.

Anna Paquin, a star of True Blood, the X-Men movies, and The Piano, recently declared herself bisexual for a public service announcement for The True Colors Fund, an organization advocating for LGBT rights. She is engaged to be married to her male co-star.

Lady Gaga told Rolling Stone a year ago that she was bisexual, and confirmed in an interview with Barbara Walters in December that she has had sexual relationships with women. She says her attraction to women is purely physical.

Fergie of the Black-Eyed Peas told The Sun a year ago that she considers herself bisexual. She had previously revealed that she has had sex with both men and women. She is in a long-term relationship with a male actor.

A week earlier, actress Megan Fox of the Transformers also revealed that she was bisexual and had had sex with women.

Which sexual type best describes each of these entertainers? Fergie and Lady Gaga hint at being supersexual. Anna Paquin makes no apologies and might be flexamorous or ambisexual. Christina Aquilera is unafraid to say that she finds women attractive and may be heteroflexible, if not just self-promotional. If anyone knows these stars, please ask them to take the Flexuality Test!

Each of these women deserves applause for leading the way and resisting the pressure to define herself as straight.