“[If You’re Bisexual] Why Don’t You Choose To Be With A Woman And Be Like You’re Normal?”

by Mike Szymanski

I’m Mike Szymanski and I’m from Hollywood, California. I always knew that I was interested in boys and girls, it always was the case. And I didn’t really know what bisexuality meant or used the word because I came out as gay first and I told my parents and it was a big deal and I came out as gay. And then I was sleeping around with a woman and they thought that it was strange. I was living in West Hollywood and we would go to gay clubs but I was with a woman. And then I thought, “Well, okay, maybe I’m bisexual” and she introduced me as her gay boyfriend. Then my dad said, “Well if you’re bisexual why would you choose the wrong way?” And that was a weird situation because then I went on, I came out in a magazine as my second coming out, coming out as bisexual from being gay, because being gay was a step for me to become bisexual. I got on a lot of talk shows, went on Phil Donahue, they thought that was an unusual thing. And my girlfriend at the time said, well, you’re going to have to choose if you want to be a bisexual activist or if you want to date me. So we broke up.

And then John saw one of the articles that I wrote and he looked me up, we happened to live a mile away from each other, our names were right under each other in the phone book and we’ve been together now for 18 years. We have a child that he had with my sister so I’m the uncle. But we’re pretty much a nuclear family. And we’re boring. We’re boring now, we go to the PTA meetings and concerts. But we’re together and we both identify as bisexuals and that throws a lot of people off. It’s often a frequent conversation with the family at Thanksgiving dinner, they don’t understand it. “So you’re still bisexual?” “Yeah, we’re still bisexual.”

My dad could deal with it like my son has a broken leg, an affliction. So, “Yeah, my son is gay…”, that kind of thing. But then when you’re bisexual, how do you explain that to your friends, and how did he explain it. Okay so now he’s bisexual but he’s with a man? Why would you choose that way, why don’t you choose to be with a woman and be like you’re normal? And I did have relationships with women that I thought were it and that I would spend the rest of my life with her, but then John and I clicked and we really have been together solidly all this time, and we have kids and dachshunds and just a boring life up here in the Hollywood Hills. I always thought bisexuality was always a fun and sexy label.

One of my first memories of the reality of bisexuality was watching Laugh In way back and I was really young, probably 6 or 7 but there was a party scene and one of the guys walks in and he has a girl and a guy at the party and he’s coming in with a girl and a guy and they’re dancing together and I remember looking at that thinking, “I want to do that. I want to go to a party with a girl and a guy.” Not just a girl, not just a guy, but both of them. And just, that kind of reality of that kind of hit me and was like, whoa, I probably shouldn’t have been watching Laugh In at such a young age.

When I was coming out and trying to read about bisexuality and became friends with a lot of bisexual activists and authors, everything was really heavy. It was all these heavy coming out stories, and, “My family disowned me”, and then I became really good friends with this young, hip, bisexual girl, Nicole, and we co-wrote The Bisexuals Guide to the Universe, which we wrote as a funny book to make people laugh and then give real statistics and quotes about bisexuality. And it won the first Lambda Award for any bisexual category. It was the first bisexual category.

Recently they did a story in the New York Times about bisexuality, on the cover of the magazine, and John and I are pictured in the inside cover. this was just in March. And it’s a huge article about bisexuality and has a lot of great bisexual people in it, and I think it’s a pretty decent take on it. When they have something mainstream like this where they actually show pictures of people who are bisexual, you can see that it’s not just the cool kids with nose rings, it’s people of different ages, my friend Gary here who is a grandfather, and people of all colors, you realize they can be part of any community. You don’t have to just be in Hollywood to be bisexual, you can be anywhere.

I am not one to subscribe to the belief that everyone is bisexual. I know some bisexuals do, they think that there are some people on different spectrums, but I think sexuality is fluid and I think people can be bisexual in different parts of their lives. So just be yourself, be comfortable, be yourself, and don’t try to squelch your interest in whomever you’re interested in. I think that’s the best way to go about your life.

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