My husband of nine years sat at the table in what I imagine was stunned silence.
“What’s going through your mind right now?” I asked, picking at the remains of my scrambled eggs and soyrizo breakfast.
“Are you leaving me?”
“What? Why would you think that?”
“The only other friend whose wife came out to him, left him.”
I had just come out to him as bisexual. The only other person I had come out to at that point was my best friend and my therapist. This was different. This had real repercussions.
Today is National Coming Out Day, a day we celebrate living openly as LGBTQ+ people. Like me, people may be having uncomfortable – or hopeful! – conversations. Coming out is a journey – one that I relive on the campaign trail.
It isn’t always easy running for office as an out candidate. But I’m so glad I am. If elected, I’ll be the first out bisexual woman elected to the CA State Assembly.
I’ve been bisexual my whole life – as in, I’ve been attracted to men and women for as long as I can remember. In first grade I had crushes on my two best friends, a girl and a boy. I’m not sure at what point I learned what gay or lesbian meant, but in my world the idea of homosexuality had always carried a negative connotation. In the late 90s, middle schoolers rampantly chastised each other with “that’s gay.” Our high school’s support group was the Gay-Straight Alliance. As far as I knew, there was no “both.” There was no middle. There was no LGBTQ+.
Last year, as I was deep into a run for Los Angeles City Council, I was applying for endorsements from different organizations that shared my values. I was repeatedly asked if I identified as LGBTQ+. Every time I said no, a little piece of me crumbled. I was contributing to the bi erasure in our society. As I realized this, I looked around at my campaign team – most of them queer youth themselves – and felt so ashamed that I didn’t have it in me to live my life as authentically and pridefully as they do.
So why run as an out candidate now? Well, I’m 37 years old, and I will continue being bisexual whether in or out of the closet. I am choosing not only to live authentically, but to hopefully create space for others to do the same. I haven’t experienced the kind of discrimination that we are seeing run rampant throughout our country — especially directed at the trans community. And part of me feels I haven’t suffered enough to earn the label. At the same time, I want to spotlight that we exist and that I am proud of who I am. I want all of our voices and experiences to be heard, valued, and validated.
And we need those voices on the campaign trail. Seeing my staffers live open and authentic lives inspired me to do the same – and I know our campaign shows others that they can be out and proud too. That’s why we need LGBTQ+ candidates – and the help of supporters like you.
Candidate for California State Assembly