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I’m often the subject of many assumptions about my sexuality—seen as either straight or gay depending on who I date or who I’m out with on a given day. And while there is obviously nothing wrong with either orientation, I still long to be my true self with the people in my life. I wish to be seen as myself.

Hi, I’m Stephen. And I’m bisexual.

Being bisexual means I have experienced a million moments of coming out of the closet to every person I know or meet. It seems as though I am constantly deciding when would be a convenient time to come out as bisexual to the people in my life.

Each time drags up extreme anxiety. My chest burns—a pain with a red-hot core just above my heart that radiates outward—to a dull ache that travels along blood vessels. My fingers tingle with electrical impulses, tiny sensations that are extinguished after a fruitless race into nothingness along miles of nerves. I run through the same checklist of thoughts and fears each time.

I try to talk myself out of it. I get lost in myself. Time slows down. I question every little thing. A million possibilities stretch out in every direction.

Here are the questions I ask myself in these coming out moments:

Do I really have to do this? Is this the right time? Is there ever a right time? Am I making too big a deal of things? Will I be rejected?

Am I smiling too much? Can they sense my hesitation? Am I queer enough?

Is there something in my teeth? Would the thing stuck in my teeth undercut anything I’m about to say? Will I be rejected?

Do people assume I’m straight? Does it matter if they do? Why should I care? Why do I most definitely care? Am I authentic enough? Am I queer enough?

Will I be rejected? Why will I be rejected? Will it be because of religion or society? Am I safe revealing myself to this person? Why should I have to? Will they accept me? Does it matter if they don’t? Does it matter if they do? Am I queer enough?

Why do I feel the need to identify myself publicly in this way? Why to this person? Is it important if I come out to them? Will coming out to this person help them learn something about themselves? Would it have helped me recognize things earlier in my own life if people had been more open with me? Will I be rejected?

Am I just assuming they’re straight? Am I a hypocrite? Am I doing the thing I hate? Am I a part of the problem? Am I queer enough?

Why am I bringing this up? Is it my responsibility to normalize bisexuality? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Why do I have to make such a big deal about everything? Is it a big deal? Is it not a big deal? Is it only a big deal because I’m making it a big deal? Will I be rejected?

Will this person think I’m hitting on them even though I’m not? Is there a way to bring this up without feeling someone will view it that way? Will it sound casual when I bring it up?

Is it creepy of me to talk about? Does it only feel creepy because society tells us that any mention of sexuality is inherently sexual? Will I be rejected? Am I queer enough?

Will I be rejected?

Who cares? Be yourself.

Am I queer enough?

You’re you. That’s exactly the right amount of anything.

Then, finally, my brain calms down. The world rushes back in. I breathe deeply and sharply—a million kernels of popcorn explode at once in my ribcage. I notice the sweat that bloomed between my shoulder blades as it cools. My body begins the long process of breaking down the rush of chemicals that flooded my system in response to my anxiety. I am calm. I am me. And I’m learning to be OK with that.

Why not? I tell myself. Go for it.

Stephen Czerwinski

Stephen Czerwinski ghostwrites their mother's yearly Christmas letter. They live in Los Angeles where they makes things for the internet.

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