The following is an excerpt from my essay, “Coming to Terms,” published in the nonfiction anthology, Bi Men: Coming Out (2005, Haworth/Routledge). All rights reserved.
Coming to Terms
by Ron J. Suresha
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Cancer dramatically evolved my relationship with my body and sexuality. Suddenly I detached from my body and became aware of its neutrality of desire: it seemed that it wasn’t necessarily my body that preferred men to women, it was my mental state — a kind of misogyny or gynophobia that my gay experiences reinforced. Regardless of the reasons in my past for my previously exclusive homosexual preference, I no longer felt I had the luxury of time to exclude any possibilities in the future.
At the Lambda Literary Conference in nearby Provincetown, Mass., in October 2003, just a few weeks after my surgery, I met a man, Rocco, who came into my life and swept me off my feet. I was skeptical of his reaction when I eventually told him about my newly discovered bisexuality, but quickly I saw how he completely embraced and supported my process. Although I’ve gotten some dubious reactions from various folks when I’ve mentioned my bisexuality, every person in my life who matters has affirmed and supported my decision. What ultimately matters, though, is how I perceive and bless my own process.
My second coming-out experience corresponded to an entirely new vision of my body while I experienced my father’s death, sold my house and moved twice in 10 months, underwent cancer surgery and radiation treatment (entirely effective, I’m happy to add), and meeting and falling in love with my partner. The pain of coming out again has proven in many ways more positive than my first arduous process of self-discovery as a homo, but just as intense, if not moreso.
Coming out – whether gay, lesbian, bi, or trans – is a complex metaphor for self-discovery and life actualization. To come out means to declare oneself non-heterosexual, and queers one’s world in a truthful, positive way – though admittedly it’s not the sole means of attaining a queer sensibility. Coming out from gay to bi is part of my life’s journey, just as a straight man would feel that coming out as bi or gay is part of his. For some gay men coming out a second time as bisexual, such as myself, we are simply expanding the way in which we queer the world.
It saddens me so many gay, lesbian, and straight folks have marginalized bisexuals, transpeople, intersexed, and other queer non-monosexual folks. I am shamed at my own prejudice, that’s for sure. How dare I expect acceptance from others if I can’t affirm everyone’s sexuality? If I disparage others’ sexual and gender expression, and reinforce old stereotypes and prejudices — especially if I already know the difficulty of coming out — I need to take a good, long, hard look at myself. What difference does it make from where we come if we agree that we’re all heading in the same direction?
Evolving consciously to transform a central aspect of one’s personality requires incredible inner strength, compassion, and self-relection. Bisexual and transgendered folks understand what it means to grow a sexual vocabulary that can describe worlds of acceptance and transcendence, of which many non-monosexuals might only dream.
Coming to terms with my sexuality has taken a long time coming, a clearing process that has taken its own good time to unfold and which is far from over. It’s a joy, and still somewhat scary, to think that after 30 years of gay male sex, that I have a whole new sexual universe to explore. Accepting myself as bisexual allows me to broaden a vocabulary with which I can meaningfully describe my world and interact with the whole of humanity. The winding road which I have been paving seemingly by myself, one yellow brick at a time, has joined up to a path where many other men who, in whatever manner think of themselves as bisexual or otherwise act bisexually, walk toward a profound goal.