So Happy to See You
This summer I saw him smiling and my heart was full. It seemed poetic as I watched a video of him smiling at the camera and dancing at Beyonce’s Renaissance world tour. My heart was full, knowing the renaissance that he has gone through over the last several years and to now see him fully embracing and enjoying his life.
We met at a dinner party, talked for a bit, and at the end of the night we exchanged business cards. That happens often. I figured that maybe we would meet up for coffee once and then stay connected just to keep each other in the loop about trends in our industry and networking events that we were both fond of. Unexpectedly, and fortunately, that is not what happened. Instead, we met up for coffee and could not stop chatting. It was a natural connection, and I knew this guy would be a friend.
He is smart, kind, encouraging, and always committed to learning. Building a friendship with him was easy. We hung out with each other; sometimes we would hang out with our mutual friends. No matter the case, we would always have a good time. I was delighted by the new gift of friendship. Later I was even more delighted when he invited me deeper into his world.
At brunch one Saturday he noticed me looking at a guy across the room. He asked me if that was the kind of man that typically catches and keeps my eye. I confirmed that to be true.
Then he went on to tell me about the men that he finds attractive. I stuttered a bit asking him to repeat himself. I was sure that I did not hear him correctly. Nope! In fact, I did hear correctly. After months of building our friendship, he was trusting me and sharing that he identified as bisexual. It was a piece of him that he had not shared with very many people, so I felt honored he had shared it with me.
Since then, I have witnessed him grow more comfortable with himself, overcoming some of the challenges and obstacles faced by people who identify as bisexual. It has strengthened my empathy for a part of the LGBTQIA+ community that I think is sometimes ignored and often misunderstood.
Coming out/inviting is not easy for everyone. We live in a world where fear and discrimination still exist. A world where the price you pay for living your truth may be living a life of forced isolation from your family if they choose not to accept you. Where friends may become foes. Where if you cannot fit neatly into the box someone else has created for you, they will box you out from opportunities for friendship and love. Where myths about bisexual Black and Latino men in particular have demonized them. A world where you could be standing right in front of someone as your full self, and they may choose not to see you at all. Even though we all deserve to be seen.
I see my friend, though, and I reaffirm his wholeness. I am proud of the self-work he has done to be able to navigate the conversations with women and men about his attraction to both genders. His commitment to his truth is now bigger than his fear of rejection.
Even in his professional life he has become more confident. At a recent meeting for a diverse leaders networking group he is a member of, he raised his hand and voice in a discussion that years ago he would have sat silent in. No one in the group previously knew that he identified as bisexual. His comments that day made his dual identities known. He opened himself up to be seen more fully and was embraced.
I hope to see more of that. I am so happy to see him. ▼
Clarence J. Fluker is a public affairs and social impact strategist. Since 2008, he’s also been a contributing writer for Swerv, a lifestyle periodical celebrating African American LGBTQ+ culture and community. Follow him on Instagram: @Mr_CJFluker.