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I, A Bisexual Black Man, Have 5 Things I Need To Talk About

My name is Myke Thompson, and after a lifetime of hiding in the shadows, I unabashedly put the Bi in BIPOC (Black, indigenous, person of color).

I'm bisexual, and, you know, that wouldn't be all that bad if I didn't also identify as a Baptist. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the apparent aspect of my colorful identities. I'm Black. Maybe you're pretending to ignore every single criticism of Lil Nas X's unapologetic sexuality or Dave Chappelle's controversial transphobic comedy special. I'm doubtful you're following Dr. Umar Johnson's homophobic conspiracy about people being sexually confused, but being a Black man and being queer is a massive problem for a lot of people. Especially people who look like me. I grew up with extreme respect for my culture and its adjacent obsession with religion, but I've noticed some things that get on my nerves about being Black, bisexual, and Baptist.

So, being Black comes before anything else?

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There is this idea that your ethnicity and race come first and foremost despite any other identity you may have. I'm queer, questionably extroverted, and laugh at awkward moments like silences at funerals. Yet the idea is that I'm Black before anything else. This logic is dangerous since most statistics that primarily focus on the combination of being a Black man in America are not in my favor. My intersectionality is critical because how I love, experience relationships, and move in spaces Black, white, or a rainbow are based upon my life as a bisexual Black man.


I shouldn’t make a big deal about my sexuality out of consideration for my conservative family.

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I'm no longer in the closet. I want my family to know who I am and accept me. My conservative Christian parents come from large Southern-raised families of seven siblings, each with their legacies of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There's not one openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer person of any kind in those hundreds of family members — a ridiculous and nightmarish truth. Being Black and queer isn't entirely accepted in the Black community, and as such, the decision to be the renegade with fear of abandonment plagued me for almost 30 years of my life. What if I jeopardize my relationship with my entire family? 

At the beginning of 2021, I was fortunate to be accepted by my parents with a few stipulations (rolling my eyes). I hope the stipulations disappear in years to come, but not everyone even has this lukewarm experience to share. While I faced the old, "Just don't make a big deal of it," there are many who are exiled or shamed by their families. I wonder if this article counts as a "big deal"?

How do you know this isn’t a phase, or I’m just pretending to not be all the way gay?

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I'm queer. I'm bisexual, and I'm experiencing a journey of learning to accept the visibility of my identity to give me peace and support the trip of a kid who might be like 7-year-old me wondering if he was broken and destined for hell. I like the term bisexual because it best describes me, but the scale is anything but static. Do labels matter? Not always. I love the person who I'm dating point, blank, period. 

Since I was a kid, I knew that despite efforts to sway my Kinsey scale one way or the other, I remained wholly bisexual 27 years later. In the Black community, there is considerable controversy about Black men being on the down-low. Down-low would suggest I'm keeping my identity a secret to others' demise. I've been clear with all my partners about my bisexuality. I'm out at this point, so now I guess I would be "up high" if that's even a real thing.

Platonic relationships take a little work, and my dating life needs a lot of communication.

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Understanding friendships and who is interested in me or who I might be interested in is complicated. On the one hand, I might reject my soulmate because I ignore all the signs, or I could read into a few boundary-crossing gestures as a flirt. Communication is vital, but if someone hasn't entirely accepted their sexuality, I'm in for a world of trouble that makes Brokeback Mountain look like a Disney Channel Original Movie. Ugh. Do I have a lot of queer friendships? Maybe. I get along with many gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus folx, but I can also relate to straight people, which sometimes puts me on the wrong side of the gay pride parade. The displacement I feel within these communities, both sides lacking acknowledgment or trust in my sexuality, results from bi-erasure, and biphobia, two common issues facing other bisexuals.

“It doesn’t make sense that you’re still religious after all the stuff the church says about you.”

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Based on deranged sidewalk preacher late-night rhetoric on West Hollywood, I'm "an abomination of God," which would mean this same perfect all-mighty God created a mistake? My parents raised me to believe in God. After being forced to get baptized alongside my father on my 18th birthday, immediately blacking out that same night with friends, and rolling on the grass making out with my crush from kindergarten, I found my path toward my faith. 

The institution of religion weaponizes the gospel against the LGBTQ+ community and makes for a challenging journey. I skipped all the passages people misinterpreted to hate tattoos, piercings, and gays and lived in my truth with a bright, metaphorical rainbow-colored Bible. Not a popular decision by people within my community, but when your religion raises you to hate who you indeed are inside, you will work hard to get to the bottom of the truth. In countless moments in history, religion has been a means of control and hate. Stepping away from the institution of religion and the church, I focus on my spirituality and personal faith in God.

Conclusion

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The aversion of the queer community in hip-hop, Black culture, and the urban household built an environment ruled by fear and shame. I practiced techniques to make myself feel small. Remain unseen. I thought silence was survival. As a loud extrovert, this was a tortuous process that left me broken — until the day I found my voice and never backed down. I think of the other young men like myself, growing up in a Black, conservative home ruled by religion, and I want them to know that our culture remains in its infancy of acceptance of the LGBTQ+, but all hope is not lost. With the visibility of artists like Billy Porter, Lil Nas X, Laverne Cox, and the revisiting of legends like James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Marsha P. Johnson, we can create true freedom for all of us.