Straight Talk Advice

Mar 07, 2012

What’s a bisexual girl to do?

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I am 14 and bisexual. I’ve told only my four closest friends. They love and support me, and one of them is bisexual also. I’m not sure if I should tell my parents, but I think they would be okay with it. My two best guy friends know I've been acting weird lately and I don't know if I should tell them. I feel like they don't know me anymore. Also, my bisexual friend and I are flirting and getting closer than ever. What should I do about all this? — Sally

Peter 25, Monterey, Calif. Ask me a question

Out of compassion, I'm obliged to pass on some facts. Depression and suicidal thoughts among gay and lesbian teenagers are triple that of the general population. Ditto for substance abuse. I believe this is due mainly to stress from bullying, rejection by peers, friends, family, and society, and to the tendency to find acceptance with at-risk groups. Even higher substance abuse and self-harm rates are experienced by bisexuals. They have the lowest level of social support and emotional wellbeing of any sexual orientation. All that said, if you like girls, guys, or both, bravo. For support, join your school's Gay-Straight Alliance — or start one. Even better, don't define yourself right now. I just turned 25 and I promise you there's no rush.

Katelyn 17, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

Be honest with your parents. They could have better advice than your friends. Keep your flirtation a friendship until you're completely sure of your path.

Sarah 20, Santa Clara, Calif. Ask me a question

I applaud your bravery. Some people are more accepting of bisexuality than others. However, keeping your orientation a secret and having a dual identity can be emotionally unhealthy. Sharing with friends and parents lets you be true to yourself, which is what really matters. Knowing that some of my friends are bi has only made me respect them more for their honesty. It would be a good idea to come out before you start a relationship, though, to lessen complications.

Nicole 22, Grass Valley, Calif. Ask me a question

Many people are bi. Where I live, probably 25 percent of women and 7 percent of men under age 27 are bisexual or bi-curious. I can’t imagine your parents being uncomfortable. Regarding your bisexual friend, don't hurry when building a relationship.

Justin 24, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

Your sexual orientation is not the essence of who you are. It has little to do with anything. Unless you are completely confident in yourself (which takes maturity), people will take shots at you.

Colin 18, Sacramento Ask me a question

Your sexual orientation does not define you, so stop acting like it does. There are many things about me that I don't feel the need to announce. Just relax. Not putting people on notice about your sexuality isn't deception.

DEAR SALLYWhile some panelists advise telling parents and friends outside your closest circle, I disagree. Peter's facts are accurate. Bisexuals have the lowest level of acceptance and emotional wellbeing of any sexual orientation. I assure you, many peers and parents will NOT be “okay with it.” For this reason, I don't recommend that LGBT teens come out publicly until after high school, when most bullying disappears. I further advise waiting until after college in case parents pull support — which happens. I agree with Colin and Justin that it is unnecessary and a disservice to yourself to define yourself by your sexuality. Romantic trial and error is normal for adolescence and there is little value in 'declaring oneself' in the middle of a learning process. Regarding the flirtation, a sexual relationship will be emotionally destabilizing at your age. Stick with being friends. —Lauren

Readers: Straight Talk is now a non-profit. Help keep the column going by making your tax-deductible donation today! —Love and thanks, Lauren

Editor's Note: While Nicole lives in a sexually-liberal locale, her informal estimates of bisexual demographics (25 percent of women and 7 percent of men under age 27) are not that uncommon. A male panelist from a less liberal area shared with me that about 30 percent of the college-aged women he was matched with on a mainstream online dating site listed themselves as bisexual. (For hard data, the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, found nearly 13 percent of women and 6 percent of men age 18-44 claimed attraction to both genders.)

Theories accounting for the rise in bisexuality aside (and I certainly have mine), many young people are at risk socially and medically because of lack of research and prejudicial attitudes toward bisexuality. I know many bisexual youth and they are wonderful, contributing people. The 2007 Bisexual Health report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is valuable for parents, teachers, counselors, journalists, doctors and anyone who cares about their loved ones. Here is the link: http://thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/bi_health_5_07_b.pdf   —Lauren

Comment Form

Straight Talk Advice readers are known for their frank and constructive posts that lead to insightful conversations that help many people! Please keep these guidelines in mind when posting:

  • Be constructive: Needlessly cruel or obscene comments will probably be removed. Be conscious of this so your point can be heard.
  • Be relevant: Spam or senseless character attacks irrelevant to the discussion will also probably be removed.

Happy posting!

Straight Talk Advice Recommends