Supportive friends and family permitting, coming out as gay is incredibly simple. For straight people, no coming out is needed — society assumes that it is the norm. Even in the most liberal of circles, however, everyone who’s single is probably going to be asked at some point, “Do you like guys or girls?”
When the answer is “both,” it gets a little more complicated.
Being bisexual is most commonly stereotyped as the preserve of experimental teenagers, closeted gays or amoral party animals; the ‘evil bisexual’ trope is so prevalent in movies it’s both depressing and hilarious. But if you don’t fit into these boxes, you run the risk of having your identity erased every day. Gay or straight people don’t tend to have their orientation forgotten or ignored multiple times, whereas for bi people it’s all too common. (I had to come out to my ex-flatmate eight times.) So how can you avoid erasure? It can be pretty hilarious the first time your fresher friends miraculously go deaf whenever you casually mention someone you find attractive of a gender you usually date, but it wears thin pretty quickly.
The other answer is to keep your identity a secret until it becomes relevant, but this becomes a problem when your friends confusedly see you hooking up with someone a different gender to your ex. Apart from being exhausting to come out on repeat, bi people often feel unsafe telling even their partners (gay or straight — the L+G community can be awful to bi people, even excluding them from the community or refusing to acknowledge they exist) for fear of backlash, a problem that’s unique to non-monosexuals. As a bi person, I often face ‘invisible queer’ syndrome, where people feel free to air loads of homophobic opinions in front of me under the mistaken assumption that everyone within earshot is straight. And, of course, there’s the constant nagging feeling that everyone is right, that it really is just a phase — which becomes extra excruciating during a relationship with one gender at a time. Straight panic? Yes, it’s totally a thing.
Some bi people mostly prefer one gender, while others are more equal opportunists. Unfortunately, though, all the ones I know are either in the closet to others or full-on in denial, preferring to hide a small or big part of themselves in order to avoid harassment and plain old irritating misunderstandings. It’s not all bad, though. If we could all just learn to ‘think outside the binary’ a little more often, a lot of casual bi erasure could be avoided very easily. For now, I live in hope that in a few years people will stop being so weird about my identity. And, on the plus side? Twice the dating pool.