As a LGBT advocate and political activist for a long time, I have seriously been questioning whether to come out as a bi-sexual polyamorist for some time now. I have collected thousands of signatures for petitions for queer rights to the UN, joined coalitions to keep "gay books" in libraries in the State of Washington, and have my business listed on every gay friendly site that exists. I am an equal rights employer, have mentored young queers in business and life, and put advertisements in queer magazines/papers to support their work.
But me? The public knows me as a straight, married businesswoman. Up until last year, I had never actually been with a woman, and it has been a true awakening process in my life. I am now with my third girlfriend, and it's a wonderful relationship that could last a long time. My husband and I see her regularly.
I have told my close friends about all three women in my life and experienced a lot of acceptance and support (I don't have any bigoted friends that I know of) but know that "the public" can be a different story. I have a high profile in my community - I am on a first name basis with the mayor, attend a lot of prestigious community events, get invited to sit in boxes for hockey games, have won a lot of awards presented to me by some bigwigs in politics for environmentalism and community involvement.
Some of my friends say that this makes it an even more powerful statement to come out. That because I already have earned respect for what I do, and who I am in my community that it will turn their stereotypes on their heads, and give them a practical example of a "normal person" being into an alternative lifestyle. I also know that given today's political arena, that there is a certain cache in knowing someone who is GLBT. I am still reluctant though. I am protective of my private life in general, and don't like the idea of being able to be written off by people who previously respected me. I fear losing my effectiveness as a community member based on bigotry from the Religious Right that also holds a lot of power/influence in our community. I had three people of significance put me forward for a position on City Council this year, and I can see myself doing a good job serving my community down the line... what if coming out changes their viewpoints in my capability or the appropriateness of serving my community?
When I was in my teens, you could see my politics all over me; shaved head, piercings, always at a ralley, march or protest. Now I am in disguise - long blonde hair, snappy dresser - same politics, but camouflaged. And I have discovered that I create MUCH more positive change WITH hair than without. That my outward appearance makes people comfortable, and capable of actualizing my politics in arenas that ripple out and create tangible change for others in my community.
It's an interesting place to be - at first I thought it was just a phase, and that I would experiment and be done with it. But I love women just as much as I have ever loved men; I have even toyed with the idea of having a female primary partner down the line should I ever be single again (I love my husband, don't get me wrong, but you just never know how life will unfold!) I am in the middle of two worlds right now.... decisions, decisions.
My sister knows and is super accepting - she is trans, poly and heavily into the BDSM scene. My parents? Not yet.... but I doubt they'd be overly surprised that they've raised two weirdos, given that they're two weirdos themselves LOL. (I use the term weirdos in a respectful, joking way here, to be clear!)