DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to your answer to "Bi in the Deep South" (Jan. 2), the woman who is happily married to a man, but who now realizes she is bisexual and wants to come out.
My wife is an out bisexual woman. You were correct that it is possible to be bisexual without having acted on it, as people are not defined solely by the partner they have. Precisely for that reason, some individuals feel that "bisexual" is who they are, and to omit it feels like living a lie.
The notion that stating one's bisexuality is "advertising that one is available" is why my wife chose to come out -- to combat this misconception. Just as straights can be attracted to people of the opposite sex besides their spouse, so might a coupled bisexual person be attracted to other individuals of both genders. Bisexuals, however, are no more likely to act on this attraction than anyone else.
"Bi" should just be herself and tell anyone who needs to know when she feels comfortable telling them. And you're right, Abby -- she should tell her husband first. But if her marriage is as strong and happy as she indicated, I'm pretty sure he already knows. I know I did. -- JON IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR JON: Thank you for writing. The comments I received about that letter were passionate and informed:
DEAR ABBY: Bisexual women and men who begin identifying and clarifying their sexual identities in the context of committed relationships need spaces where they can sort through their understandings of themselves.
A support group that is either counselor- or peer-led, in-person or online, can be an important resource to help "Bi in the Deep South" recognize that others have also experienced what she is going through and she can learn from them. She will see there is a place of support and encouragement where it's OK to talk about what bisexuality means for her. Being part of such a group can be particularly liberating. -- LICENSED COUNSELOR, AUSTIN, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: If "Bi in the Deep South" is comfortable enough with who she is to tell someone, she should not be advised to stay in the closet to any degree. She has the right to be honest with herself and her family and not go through life hiding.
As for posting one's sexual orientation on social media profiles, doing so does not change your relationship status. You can be both "in a committed relationship" and "bisexual." They are not mutually exclusive. -- BI IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
DEAR ABBY: There is real power in coming out, in voicing your authentic self. There is an emotional cost to remaining silent. Many who do so feel like they are allowing others to assume things about them that are just not true.
I speak from personal experience. I was silent for five years, and the day I started talking about the fact that I am bisexual, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off me.
I hope "Bi in the Deep South" will find the courage to come out and fly her rainbow colors. Although she may have to correct some people's misconceptions of what it means to identify as bisexual, she will feel much better. -- ROBYN IN MASSACHUSETTS
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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