On November 28, 2011, I was out as a bisexual to my wife, my family and a handful of my closest friends.
On November 29, 2011, I was outed as a bisexual and former adult actor on primetime TV to approximately 53,000 viewers.
The fact that a high school teacher had previously starred in a couple of adult films was presented as scandalous. The fact that the films in question showed me having sex with another man only added to the salaciousness of the scandal.
I don't think that prior to the news story, it ever occurred to anyone in my professional sphere to question my sexual orientation. Since my coworkers only knew me as a happily married man, they'd erroneously assumed I was straight. For my part, I didn't think my sexual orientation was my colleagues' business, so I didn't bring it up. In short, for years, I never publicly challenged my straight persona.
Granted, it's unnerving to be judged in the court of public opinion. But what this whole experience taught me was that it's more unnerving not to be yourself. So here's why I never want to pass as straight again:
- Passing can cause constant stress. In hindsight, maybe the reason I allowed myself to pass was an intuitive knowledge that bisexual men aren't well accepted in our society. Research shows that only 8 percent of LGBT adults agree there's a lot of acceptance for bisexual men. Interestingly, however, a 2013 study by the Centre for Studies on Human Stress and the University of Montréal showed that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who are out experience lower cortisol levels and fewer symptoms of burnout, anxiety and depression than those who are closeted. Though it took me a long time to overcome my traumatic experience, I eventually realized how hard I'd subconsciously been working to hide part of me in public. With the never-forgetting Internet having made my private life everybody's business, I had no other option left than to be out all the time. Once I accepted that, I felt stronger, more relaxed and empowered to stand up for myself.
I still encounter prejudice because of my bisexuality. And I won't lie: it hurts every time it happens. But I strongly believe as I stand up and claim my space as a male bisexual every day, the chances of others being able to live their lives out -- both personally and professionally -- will increase in the days, months and years to come.