Officially, I came out to my old black lab, Jake, when I was in third grade. I cried a lot. I thought I was gay, and I thought gay was bad. Jake was cool with it.
I didn’t tell any real humans until the summer after I graduated high school. I knew I’d be bullied, and I wasn’t brave enough to deal with that. I had always planned on telling my parents first, so with Cheetos in hand, I weakly got my parents’ attention.
“Hey guys,” I said vaguely into my home. My dad was playing solitaire at the kitchen countertop, and my mom was reading on the back patio.
“I’m bi,” I stuttered between bites of Cheetos. I was terrified.
“I knew it!” My mom ran to her room to grab a newspaper article she read in the New York Times a few years beforehand, outlining the difficulties of bisexuality. She had kept it all this time. Later, she would tell me she had gay dreams when she was pregnant with me.
“Cool. I just won a game of solitaire.” My dad was also not surprised, or impressed. He said he still didn’t want to know about who I was having sex with, just like he always hadn’t wanted to know who I was having sex with.
Ultimately, I think they were excited to have a queer kid. We were one of the only progressive families in my small town, and this was the nail in our crazy-liberal family coffin.
My brother, Sam, was describing his past relationships to me over grilled cheese.
“So, one day you’re going to be in a serious relationship with a guy.”
“Or a girl,” I interrupted. After telling my parents, I was way more confident with my brother. He was wearing a shirt that said “This is what a feminist looks like,” so I was pretty sure I could depend on his support.
“So, one day you’re going to be in a serious relationship with a guy or a girl,” Sam continued.
Later he would ask me if he could tell his best friend who also had a queer sister. He was so excited.
“Does Max know?” Sam asked. Max is our older brother.
I yelled from my chair in the kitchen, ripping white cheese into smaller, more manageable sections. It was starting to get easier.
“Max, I’m bi.”
“That’s fine!” He continued playing on his phone.
Max didn’t keep mentioning it like other people. Max didn’t make bi jokes or make light of the situation, like most other people I told. He acted like nothing changed.
Both responses were perfect.
“I’m nervous,” I told my best friend, Marissa.
“Why? You can tell me anything.”
I was eating nothing. This was harder.
“I’m bi but that doesn’t mean I like you! I don’t like my friends but I do like girls and also still guys.”
“Are you kidding me, Christianna? Of course you are!” She was actually pissed that I had the audacity to be nervous. “I thought this was going to be a big thing! I thought you had a real secret for me!”
In the end, everything was okay. I still have to come out to different people one or two times a month, but my important relationships are fine.
If you’re lucky, like me, and surround yourself with people who really love you, you don’t need your cheesy security blanket.
You just need to cut the cheese, so to speak.
Christianna Silva is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.