Challenge #5 – A letter

Today’s challenge is to write a letter to anybody. I could take the easy way out and write a letter to someone in my life, something I could make quippy and lighthearted and easygoing, but instead, I’m going to write a letter to a musician who has really changed my life for the better.

Dear Tyler,

I want to thank you. We’ve met on a few occasions, which I’m sure were at best a blur of faces, photos, and autographs for you, and not particularly memorable. That’s why I want to take the time to thank you in writing. I wanted to tell you my story, so that you know that you’re making a difference, not just writing pop music.

Two years ago, I saw you perform live for the first time. I had never heard of your band before I bought my ticket to the show – you were the opening act – but I listened to everything I could get my hands on to prepare myself for the concert. I fell in love with your music. It felt right, deep down in my soul, down to my bones, like what I’d been looking for all my life, if I’d known that something was missing. Your performance was fantastic. Your band is so strong at a live show, and I’m so glad I got to experience it that night.

The following summer, things started to change for me. I listened to your music near exclusively, and I found that every song spoke to me in some way. I started to feel like there were parts of me that I needed to change, to be true to myself. And then, I fell in love. It was a revelation. It, too, felt right, deep down to my core. There had always been this part of me that I’d hidden from (so many parts of me that I’d hidden, really), and when I fell in love, this part of myself refused to hide any longer. The hang up was that I was married – and I had fallen in love with a woman. I got lucky. My husband slowly accepted that I wanted to be with this woman, and her husband did the same. They allowed us to explore our feelings for each other in a safe space, and it was beautiful. During this time, I listened to several of your songs on repeat, and they helped calm my mind and my soul. They helped me sort through what I was experiencing. I started quoting the songs prolifically. I came out as polyamorous and bisexual to my family and friends. I felt alive.

Then things fell apart. The relationship ended, and I was heartbroken. Again, your music was there for me. Songs that helped me move past the breakup, feel my heartache in a way I needed to, and walk forward.

Over the next few months, your songs continued to be the background music in my busy life. I met another woman, and we began dating. Life was good. Then, you released another album. You came out as gay. (I was so happy for you.) I managed to get last minute tickets to see you perform in a far-away city, and I drove many hours  on short notice to see your 45 minute set. It was one of the transformative moments in my life. I felt free, I felt strong, I felt as though I could do anything. I stayed after your set ended, and I met you. God bless you, you gave me a hug, even though you were exhausted and trying desperately to leave the venue.

Your tour to celebrate the new album took me to many new cities to watch you perform, and I met and spoke with you many times after, always carefully choosing my words. The nerves never went away. Your new album was the soundtrack of my independence, my adulthood, my coming-of-age.

You’ve changed everything, and I’ll never forget that. You helped me accept who I am and come out to myself, my family, and my friends. I thank you for all you’ve done, and what I’ve become.

Sincerely,

Riley Long

Bisexual Erasure

Bisexual erasure is a real issue for bisexual people. This is the phenomenon in which society actively promotes the idea that bisexuals don’t exist, that they’re making it up, that bisexuality is just a phase, or that bisexuality is only a pathway to coming to terms with one’s homosexuality. Buzzfeed posted a great listicle with comments from just such people.

Like other sexual orientations, there are as many types of bisexuality as there are bi-identified people. There may be a few for whom being with both sexes is a choice. Many bisexual people are equally attracted to both sexes, but only romantic with one or the other. This is called heteroromantic or homoromantic. Many people believe that bisexuality is an outdated term, ignoring the gender spectrum. Others assert that as they are attracted to gender expression, bisexual still applies.

In addition to the people who actually exist and identify as bi, there has been some great research into the bisexual mind. The NYT had a fantastic article putting the research together in context with the human element.

So what are the reasons for bisexual erasure? Well, in part, people don’t believe they exist because so many gay and lesbian people come out as bi first, even if they’re not bi. For some, it’s less scary or absolute, so easier to claim than gay. But there’s another reason: bisexuals themselves.

Now, now. Don’t light the torches just yet. I know I’m part of the problem. Bisexual people who don’t come out are guilty of contributing to the problem of downplaying bisexuality in the media and in the realm of social understanding. I am not out to many people, because I can easily pass for straight. I’m married with a kid. We will remain invisible as long as we allow it. Until bisexual people come out in larger numbers, people won’t believe we exist in large numbers. There needs to be a push for coming out whenever safe and including bisexual characters in LGBT literature for widespread acceptance to take root.

And finally, a disclaimer. I do not pretend to know all the answers, and if I have misspoken here, please let me know.