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  1. #1
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    Bisexual Families

    By Jon Pressick

    I’ll always remember coming out as bisexual to my daughters. It was a nice, early spring afternoon, just a couple of months ago. Living in Canada right now, the political climate for queer peoples is particularly charged, as we are in the endgame of potential same-sex marriage legislation. And on this particular day, I was able to talk to my girls about not only this important situation, but I also managed a baby step toward them truly understanding their father.

    On this day we were out running errands, driving home from the other side of this city. As we approached a major downtown intersection, I noticed that police were blocking traffic, and I could see the beginnings of some sort of parade. Then I heard on the radio what the parade was: pro-traditional marriage advocates had taken to the streets.

    It just so happened that this faction was turning onto the street I was on and would then be proceeding right past my car. And since it was a nice day, and my window was already rolled down, I began to do all that I could to get my message to these people. And well, I’m a bit of a rabble rouser that way, so I began shouting such things as “Shame!” “Equality for all!” and “I thought God loved everyone?” And let me tell you, I am loud when I wanna be.

    I kept up my hollering until the whole procession had passed. I think there were a few others in the crowd who appreciated my commentary, and others joined in. And regardless of the fact that I knew my words would not make any of the marchers defect to the pro-homo side of things, I did still consider my actions a distinct political action. I was yelling my message of equality because I wanted my daughters to hear me.

    Eventually, the whole parade had passed and police let us through. As we drove away, my near six-year old asked more earnestly what that was all about. She had asked me why I was yelling earlier, but now she wanted more information. I told her that some people don’t agree that men and men and women and women should get married. I tried my best to explain that right now these marriages can’t happen, and that some people agree with this, and some people don’t. I told her I agree that anyone should be allowed to be married.

    She was quiet for a bit. Then she asked the question: “Do you think you’ll ever marry a boy?” I have to admit I was a bit taken off-guard. I didn’t expect her to make that kind of leap in thinking. And this was also a defining moment. So, I told her, “Well, if Daddy finds a boy who makes him happy and he wants to marry, then yes, I would marry a boy.”

    And that was that. I have no idea what else she thought on this, or even how much it registered. We arrived home shortly after and were taken over by the getting out of car and upstairs routine. And we’ve not discussed it further since. I know we will sometime, one of my parenting goals is open and effective communication at all times. They’ve been raised around queer people their all of their lives, so same sex life is not new to them. But how they’ll deal with it with their parents could be another story.

    In speaking with some other bi parents, the decision to be out to children is a complicated issue with many advantages and disadvantages. But beyond these drawbacks and benefits, the primary reason some people aren’t out to their kids is rather elemental: the kids are too young. Some are just not comfortable discussing their sexuality with their kids because the kids are just too young, and, consequently would not understand the concepts. "TOCityGuy," who has a 9-year-old daughter has never explicitly stated his bisexuality to her, but he’s also not hidden it either. He’s sure that his daughter “understands that some people have relationships with the same gender. I’m not sure if she understands that somebody could have relations with either daughter.”

    To others, their personal sexuality is not something they feel they need to discuss with their children. “Nik76o,” who has two sons, ages 6 and 1 month is not openly bi, and in her situation doesn’t “believe my children are in the need to know about” her sexual preferences. She does offer that “if I was openly gay then I feel that they should know at some point.” But for now, she and her boyfriend have chosen to keep their “sexual indiscretions out of the house.” Bill, father of 8 children between the ages of 2 and 22 worries that if they knew he was bisexual, “they might get confused about sexual identity. The older they are when they learn that you’re bi, the more they’d be able to understand what that means.”

    On the other hand, Brooke, mother of a near-5-year-old, believes her son does have somewhat of a concept of her bisexuality “at least as good as a 4 year old can have.” Being a kid of that age, of course he’s curious, and “has started asking other female friends and family if they have a girlfriend too.” She is married to her husband and has had a girlfriend for a year and a half. Being exposed to this, her son is “starting to grasp that bi is something different.” Heather, who has a nine-year-old boy, also presents a rather practical reason to be open with her son. “It would be confusing,” she offers, “if he saw me kissing a man one week and a woman another if I hadn’t told him about it.”

    Whether or not these parents are out to their kids or not, the decision to be out in the community proposes completely different questions. The most obvious reason to not be out as bisexual when you have kids is the potential discrimination the kids may face. Nancy, who has a five-year-old son, worries about kids being “at schools with narrow-minded teachers, they might be given a hard time. Also, other kids might harass them.” This is a big problem, because it is something that parents cannot resist, regardless what positive actions they might take.

    However, being proudly out in the community can be an empowering example that can be presented to children. Nancy suggests that it is “good for them to learn to be open. That way, if they grow up and learn that they are not heterosexual, they don’t have to waste years and years suffering from internalized homo/biphobia.” But it isn’t just within themselves that kids will learn about acceptance. Children, when exposed to different cultures, religions and sexualities at a young age can then grow up understanding the different peoples of the world, making them less likely to be susceptible to bigots who will try to tell them otherwise.

    Another advantage to being out with your kids is that it can build trust between within your family. Perhaps this concept it best left to older children, but if you can be open about yourself, then your children are more likely to trust you, and perhaps they will then grow up feeling that they can trust you in the same way that you trust them. This could lead to an open and loving relationship based on honesty and understanding. When considering this question, Julie, mother of three children aged 5, 11, and 13, referred to it to her kids! “They were adamant that if I was keeping secrets from them concerning her sexuality they would no longer be able to trust my word and wouldn’t feel safe to disclose their own concerns with me.”

    When I drove away from that parade, when my daughter was asking me questions, I knew this was an important moment, mainly because most of my dealings with my daughters are important moments at this age. They are growing up fast in a rapidly changing world. So, if there is one thing I want to be to them, I want to be a rock of stability. My situation enables me to be open with them, but it is clear that others may not be in the same situation to afford that level of comfort. So, just like all those other contentious parenting issues out there, being openly bisexual with your children is a very personal decision. And as with all of those other parenting decisions, we’ll only know we’ve done the right thing when our kids are grown. Then I’m sure they’ll let us know if we’ve done right.

    (c) Copryight 2005 Jon Pressick

    Jon Pressick is the feature article editor for Bisexual.com. He is also the publisher of TRADE: Queer Things and a past contributor to Xtra!, Gaiety, Broken Pencil, Women’s Post and Quill and Quire.

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up Re: Bisexual Families

    To tell or not to tell! What a loaded feature. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here. I aplaud you for tempting to explain this to your kids. As I father of 2 I know this takes a great deal of courage and personal clarity.

    DM

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    Great article Jon. I think, for many bisexual people, coming out is one of the most difficult things to consider. And kids add a further degree of consideration to the whole thing. In another thread a few days back, someone said that they view their bisexuality as a very private thing, that is none of anyone's business, and they probably would never come out. I can understand that point of view. The flip-side, that I can also relate too, is that after a while not telling feels like a lie - it becomes a burden and eats away at the soul. A very complex topic indeed.

    Thanks for the great article Jon!!

    - Drew

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    So, just like all those other contentious parenting issues out there, being openly bisexual with your children is a very personal decision. And as with all of those other parenting decisions, we’ll only know we’ve done the right thing when our kids are grown. Then I’m sure they’ll let us know if we’ve done right.



    Thanks Jon for this enlightened piece.


    I am lucky enough to be bringing my children up in a liberal part of town where social norms are pretty diverse. However, the near fascism of high school social culture keeps my feet, and those of my children, firmly on the ground.

    Both my sons have been physically attacked in school on the assumption they may be gay. For now their determination not to bow to gender stereotypes and cut off their long hair remains solid. However I am aware these are primarily my values, and there could come a time when my children decide these standards were just not worth the pain and grief experienced by just standing firm in being who they are. Let alone having to defend their mothers sexuality.

    So for now,openess regards my bi-sexuality is contained between my children, close friends and other such trustworthy folk. I have no intention of putting them more at risk of the wrath of homo/bi-phobic folk than I have to. Neither will I let that same wrath compromise my openness with my children though.

  5. #5
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    Re: Bisexual Families

    I cant tell my kids yet
    BIGREGORY
    BI and loving it

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    I read this with great interest...having only just recently admitted to my 17 year old son that I was bi. It was a little uncomfortable at first....I involved my g/f as well and we talked hypothetically about it....when i was sure of his reaction I told him that it was true...he is very cool with it being bi himself.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bisexual Families

    My eldest daughter is aware of my sexuality - she calls it "Daddy's little gay secret" - although as a late teeenager she's going through an anti-gay life style phase - which makes me chuckle as two of her closest male freinds ARE gay and she goes out clubbing with them to gay joints - so! Who ever suggested teenagers are confused!!! lol!!

    As for tellling my younger (and older) children - I fear it! ALthough I'm totally relaxed with my sexuality, and my wife knows (and always has done) I am truly scared of "coming out" to my other children and family members. I would dread going to the school if I felt the other parents knew. It may be based on the bad reactions of some of the few people I have tpold over the years - I really can't say - I'm not sure why I have this fear. Propbably it is the most basic instinct - fear of rejection. Whether I will tell them as they, and I, get older I'm unable to say.

    I look forward to following this thread.

    Thanks for all the comments you have made people - they really do help.

    Ruper XXXXXX.
    Love conquers all

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    Our daughter walked in on us with another bi cpl. She was kinda stunned but cool about it and we talked to her about it the next day.Kim and Bob

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    Cool Re: Bisexual Families

    My child is only four and she has n conscept between straight and bisexual, but when the time comes I will let her know .

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    Lightbulb Re: Bisexual Families

    Great job Jon I admire you for your efforts in explaining somethind that is well hard to explain. I just had to do the same with my son who is 14. Well he just turned 14 and is very curious about girls. Both my children have been raised in a mom/dad enviroment. However now Im a single mom. And my son being so curious about wanting to know about some of the things girls like. Well i just had to tell him that mommy likes girls too. And that since daddy wasn't around to tell him all the things he needed to know about how girls are sensitive to certian things and such that I would be glad to answer any of his questions. And much to my suprise he has LOTS of them and all I can be is open and as honest as possible and the relationship I have with my kids is what I would think to be the best I could have ever asked for. Anyways thank you for your message I think that you are definatly in the right direction of haveing the same wonderful relationship with yours that I have with mine if you dont alreay.

  11. #11

    hi jon

    i am so proud of you... atleast you've been very honest with your feelings to the people that sorrounds you and to your children. atleast being to honest to them make your self so poeaceful because you ar not hidding anything to them. time will come they will woke up that each one of us needs acceptance in to exist in this world.

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    My mom is bi, She never really hid it from myself and my brother and sister. I have always knew I was, since really young, I just felt really different then the other kids. I knew some thing was weird about me that the other kids didnt have. I got to teen age and totally fell in love with this really hot girl. I knew then that I was bisexual. I had feelings for both. Which I never really fought with or hid. I am who I am and that is who my mom raised me to be. Well a couple years ago I found out that my sister is this way too. Which I think is cool that she was secure enough to say something. Its not easy for teenagers to sort out those types of feelings. I now have 3 kids of my own and I dont think that I will hide it from them. I'll wait till they are old enough to understand what the whole sex thing is but now they are still way to young to understand it. But even then its not like they need a detailed list of what is happening in my life. But I feel that if you are honest and talk to your kids they are less likely to do something stupid and stuff that we dissaprove of if you are honest with them. My mom was with my sis and I am it has came to be that we are and have always been honest with her. Builds for a good parent/child relationship. Chrissie

  13. #13

    Re: Bisexual Families

    My youngest daughter knows I am bisexual. She has no problem with it as of yet. She is curious herself so it seems somewhat natural. We have been practicing nudists as a family so nudity is not a problem.

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    Great article, Jon. I hear comments from co-workers and others who make vitriolic comments relating to how irresponsible, terrible, selfish, and otherwise twisted gay and bisexual couples would "dare" raise children in "such abominable conditions." These clips from conversations I heard have made my blood boil with rage. Once I dared comment, tempering my words, on how it would be ok, raising kids in a gay/bisexual family. The response was nuclear, topped with fire and brimstone. "How dare you even suggest that it could be ok...." while looking at me suspiciously. Jon, more articles need to be written. There is a lot more education needed in a world dark with prejudice.

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    i commend you all for your bravery and accept that you may or may not have told your children. no one can tell another what is, and is not right for any one family.

    unfortunatly we live in a world where not everyone believes the same things as everyone else. i mean in my family alone there are diffrent feelings on this very subject. my father feels it would be wrong and shamefull if one of his children, or grand children were gay/ lesbian, my mother feels that we would all go to hell, and my brothers and sister could care less what a person is and which sex they like the most, and well.. i personally feel that it doesnt matter what you are, you were put on this earth for a reason, and that doesnt change just because you like the same sex as yourself.

    because of my beliefs i have raised my children to (hopefully) share my belief that no matter if you like the same sex, or the opposite sex you are all still people and each person is entitled to make thier own decisions, and live thier own lives, free from the worry that they would be hurt for what they believe.(both emotioinaly and physicaly).

    therefore, i have been open and completly honest with my children(3 aged 9, 11, 13) . they were a little shocked, and of course full of questions, but i handeled it, and will continue to handel anything that may or may not come up in the future. any questions, conserns, or problems they may have i will do my best to inform them. and lets face it.. that is all one can do as a good parent, isnt it?

    i was worried that they would tell their friends, and that their friends would tell their families, and consequently would no longer be allowed to hang with them, or get teased or worse and get beat up.. i am pleased to say that this has not been the case.(with the teasing, loosing friends, or beaten up)

    i believe that if you bring up your children to see that these kinds of things are not wrong, and if you are open and honest with them.. they will make their own informed decisions in life, and therefore be happy, well rounded individuals.


    Thanks for letting me ramble on.

    Bright

  16. #16

    Re: Bisexual Families

    I have two grown daughters, and have been 'out' to both of them. One, the older, is currently in Iraq - a tough road for me to accept as a pacifist hippie dad, but that is her right to call her own shots. She has always accepted me and my partner(s) as I am. The other became a fundamentalist Christian and cut herself off from all contact.
    The point is, if you want to be real, you win some and you loose some. It may be friends, a job, your children, your primary relationship or even your life. I gave up trying to control other's reactions - I only can control my own (sometimes!).
    Is there any other way to live this existance then to be yourself? It is an unfolding process that changes over time - and that's o.k. as well.
    May peace be with you - God/dess Bless.

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    Well We realy have no choice but to tell our children. We have 2 Girls and they are only young now but they will notice soon that we have a different family. I am in a very loveing and stable relationship with 2 fantastic people. One happens to be Male and one female. We have been living together for 4 years and known eache other for 10+.

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    Well We realy have no choice but to tell our children. We have 2 Girls and they are only young now but they will notice soon that we have a different family. I am in a very loveing and stable relationship with 2 fantastic people. One happens to be Male and one female. We have been living together for 4 years and known eache other for 10+.
    I know one of these days our oldest, who is 2 almost3, will start asking questions she already plays with her dolls and has them have 3 parents and she has her ducky that has 3 parents. Sometimes I guess it is much more aparent for some families and in others it is more of a sex thing and not a day to day life thing. Well who knows mabey one day people will be able to define what a family is to them.
    -Pandi

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    My family, including my wife, has known that I am bisexual for many years, and are supportive about it, though it no longer is a frequent subject of outr conversations. Years ago, before AIDS, et al, my wife and I looked for a man or bisexual couple to complete a group. Alas, nothing ever developed and lasted.
    I think that is interesting that I sarted out by being picked up by a man when I was 13 and later trying to be heterosexual because that was the way I "should" be. I later got married and had children because that was what I "should" do. Eventually I tired of being "should" on and got a divorce, then later found a new wife (rather than a guy) There has been (and still is) a lot of confusuion in my sexual life.
    My niece is lesbian, and my grandson gay. We had very different nurtuting when children, so I feel strongly that the nature also play a part in our sexual development.
    BiOldMan

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    I've read your words
    I have an 18 month old son I feel like a monster
    Aside would not ever hurt him need to talk to other married bi-men

  21. #21

    Re: Bisexual Families

    Being a parent and bisexual are the main themes of my blog, One Life, Take Two (www.onelifetaketwo.com).

    My wife and I are newly divorced (for reasons unrelated to sexuality) and equally share the custody of our three children, ages 6, 9 and 12.

    I am an open person and our family includes lesbians and gays, and so I am inclined to be out--albeit as the family's only bisexual.

    On the other hand, the children are still young and coming to grips with divorce. As neither parent has taken on a new partner, the children take no speical interest in our romantic lives or sexualities. While their mother and I encourage openness to diversity in society, there's no reason to yet raise the specific subject of individual sexuality.

    Yet.

    For now, my kids see me as a great dad with close, supportive friends who is presumed to do nothing but await their return when they are with mom.

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    Wink Re: Bisexual Families

    Comming out to my two teenage sons was easier that comming out to my husband or my best friend. It happened completely by accident. We were walking over to Best Buy after lunch at Friday's and I happened to notice a really nice-looking woman. Without even thinking, I pointed her out to them.
    The first reaction was "Geez Mom, that's gross!"
    At their age they were well-aware of the concept of bisexuality and have friends who are gay and bi.
    It was a little awkward explaining that I had recently discovered this part of myself but once they got over the initial shock they were cool with it...as long as I don't point out women while I'm with them
    Never be bullied into silence;
    Never let yourself be made a victim;
    Accept no one's definition of your life;
    Define yourself.

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    Thumbs up Re: Bisexual Families

    Hi Jon,
    I am a bisexual, and also a parent to 5 young children. However my eldest starts high school soon, and I have been thinking about talking to him not just about my own sexuality, but stressing the fact that it is not shameful to discover you are Bi, Gay or Lesbian.

    However, I have had a very difficult time arguing with myself wether or not it is right I should tell him at this stage. I know that this age (he is almost 11) is usually the age that our children start to become sexually aware themselves, and after reading your article, I now have the confidence to bring this topic up.

    On a positive note, I feel by bringing my sexuality up now at this stage, it will help him to feel confident about his own sexual awareness. I was bullied through high school upto my early adult life for being 'different' as they put it. I now feel it is important to address these issues, not only so that our children can gain some understanding of the way sexuality works, but also to learn them that it is ok to be 'different' and to teach them about self acceptance.

    Keep up the good work!

    'Being sexually aware of myself is being me, and that is what matters the most.'

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    Hey all, just wanted to ad that im a daughter of a bisexual mum and dad.
    i came out when i was 16, Told my mum first and my mum laughed and said im bisexual too! i was shocked but thort wahoo go mum!
    later that day dad and i went for our usual daily walk, i told him..... he burst out laughing and said "well gleek, i am bi 2" we both laughed and in my head i was beaming means my mum and dad and i could all accept eachother and i also realised that bisexuality was very natual for me..
    MY lil sis knows i am bi (i dated one of her friends) but she doesnt know about mum and dad...
    well thats all i wanted to add

    Love Gleeky xxx
    OMG I'm in love!

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    I could never tell any of my family. they would bury me with a fire extinguisher, lol.
    I have told my kids from day one that I would not judge them for anything they told me. they have tested it and found it true, but I am not comfortable telling them.
    Life is what happens while you are trying to please others

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    As someone who's known, but repressed, the idea that they're bi until quite recently, I want to explain my somewhat cockeyed logic as to telling my family.
    There is no way on this earth I could have told my parents. They were so repressed that sometimes I wonder how I came to be born. I never saw either of them naked, and they made me into a nudist by trying to insist that I always cover up.
    I suspect that my dad knew I was bi, I remember him finding a story I wrote when I was in my early teens, a work of fiction about doing things with a m/f couple. But he just said "Has this happened?" to which I replied "No", he tore it in half and walked out.
    They died within a few weeks of each other a few years ago, not long after the birth of my twin children.
    I held both of them in my arms, the day they were born, and promised them that whatever they were, whatever they became, I would always love them.
    They live with their mum, she's tried bisexuality but didn't get much from the experience apparently, about 200 miles away, so they have no reason to know of my bisexuality.
    My present female partner knows I'm bi, I told her very soon after we met, and her children (both adults) know that I've done things in the past (but how serious they think I am I'm not sure.)
    When the time comes for me to tell my birth children I'll be honest and open, I hope.

  27. #27

    Re: Bisexual Families

    My wife has known from the day I admitted it to myself that I am Bi. I have told my Dad, and found out he is also. He warned me to never let my Mother know. She is a mean and evil woman, that would shoot me to prevent others from finding out. Two of my four brothers are. My oldest son found out when he was 21, that I am Bi. Last year he told me he is also. My youngest found out when he walked in on me and some friends. He is 20 and seems confused right now. He was a Jock in high school and plays Hockey. He feels he has an image to uphold. But he accepts the fact that I am Bi. He has a couple of girlfriends that are and he has had them over together to spend the night several times. He has made the statement that they and I have the best of both worlds.

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    Re: Bisexual Families

    My wife knew I was bisexual even before we started dating. But she freaked and headed for the hills, so to speak. She reconsidered, we started dating and eventually got married. She attended MCC services with me regularly and when our daughter was born she became a welcome member to the church.
    Indeed my wife was the only designated straight person - my daughter? At age nine I still don't think she knows. But she knows I've had boyfriends in the past, and I try to tell her that who we love doesn't have to be determined by gender. If she wants a boyfriend, great! If she wants a girlfriend, that's great too! My wife sometimes feels weird knowing that experiences she's had from having sex with men are things that I too can relate to but she tries to keep in mind that I am monogamous as well.
    To the neighbourhood I guess we're seen as a "straight" family although I have been spotted (even pictured in the newspaper) at queer-friendly events. I'm not ashamed, nor am I hiding it. If someone asks, I tell them - I'm bi and am fully supportive of equality rights. Sure I've gained some personal opposition but no more than I've acquired from being short/ugly/left handed or disabled, so what the heck?

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    41

    Re: Bisexual Families

    As in my case, I wish that I could tell my children about my sexuality, but it is not possible. If I do then them and I will b pushed away from all of the family that I know, and them as well. My family is very homophobic, and racist. I don't want my children growing up not having family in their lives. They understand that there are some people in this world who are gay and lesbian, but have never be really told about bi sexuality. I am just know getting to that point to where I can explain that to them. I was disowned from my family when I was 15 until I had my oldest son,when he was born it was like I had family again. Since, then I have gotten married and have been living a straight lifestyle so my sexuality won't hurt my children. We all make sacrfices in life, but never realize how much u will hurt urself when u do it. Always be true to who u r, but it is hard when u r forced to b someone u r not, for the sake of someone else. I applaud everyone who can truly b who they are.

  30. #30

    Re: Bisexual Families

    As our daughters sexual education became more involved and open as they grew up, knowing daddy was not only bi, but has had a boyfriend since high school, tho married to mom....there were no awkward moments, no embarrassment, no humiliation, outside of the fact they did not like my boyfriend. He really was not a likeable person until he was naked...*S*

 

 

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