Making the choice to role model

Writing this is scary. Coming out as bisexual is rarely one big announcement, but rather lots of tiny ones as you correct misconceptions, challenge assumptions and decide when and how to tell the whole truth about your life.

This blog post is another one of those steps; I write this as a bisexual woman who is not fully out to family and colleagues. I’m aware that some of them may be reading this and just finding out.

I’m not going to claim that coming out is easy for anyone. Everyone under the LGBT+ umbrella will face both common and unique issues. In my case though, the decision about whether to be an out and visible role model in school comes with additional challenges. Bisexual people in opposite-sex relationships don’t have the option of casually mentioning a same sex partner in conversation; it needs to be a deliberate decision to be out at work.

I’ve always had the option to not challenge assumptions and quietly carry on. I’m married to a man. I have a son. In most colleagues’ and pupils’ eyes I’m heterosexual and for most of my career I was happy to leave it at that.

However, the guilt about not being a better role model and frustration around not being able to be my authentic self at work has become too much to bear and it’s time to be honest, for myself and my pupils.

There are a few reasons for this shift. Firstly, having my son. There’s nothing like having a baby to increase the sexist and heteronormative assumptions placed on a woman. As I’ve struggled to adapt to my new identity as a mother, the sense that I don’t quite fit the mould has intensified.

Secondly, I now also have a long-term female partner. Denying my bisexuality feels like erasing her, so no matter how awkward the conversations around consensual non-monogamy may be, I don’t think it’s right to hide this part of my life.

Thirdly, in my thirties I’ve finally discovered my identity, after a whole school life under Section 28 took its toll. I know how a lack of visible role models and friendly advice can impact self-esteem, so I’m determined to provide these for my pupils. That doesn’t have to mean sharing all the details (although I’d never lie to a pupil who asked) but it means living authentically, being myself and supporting my pupils.

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