It’s absurd to change one’s name to Three as an adult. I’m aware of that.
It feels just as absurd to come out as bi and non-monogamous when you’re a married mother of two. Most people like me live under the radar, and if they do activate the bisexual part of their identity it’s pretty discrete. I still get uncomfortable when I need to come out once again to someone rather than lie about a relationship I’m in (other than my husband of course).
A therapist once told me that I was very much in “stage three of coming out”. I had no idea what she meant — let alone how many stages there actually were to the shit-show of a process that coming out is.
She went on to say that stage three is the part of coming out where one is super out and proud and loud. Eventually we’re supposed to safely arrive at the fifth stage and quietly and confidently settle into our identity. I tried to absorb this information, but as I juxtaposed it against the statistics of the bi community (we’re extremely closeted and tend to not do so hot with mental health and substances) I thought, “Stage four and five are for quitters….the bi’s are WAY too closeted and underrepresented and need to be OUT and LOUD in order to change this.”
A few years into being out, I wanted to feel more at home calling myself Queer. Keep in mind that I don’t exactly fit into any category. The folks who use the label Queer tend to be at least a decade younger than me and I suspect that my hetero couple privilege doesn’t always go over well. The lesbians are the lesbians, the married bi non-monogamous people tend to be super closeted and can only be found in the swing scene. I liked and wanted the label Queer because it’s vague. It says I’m divergent but my divergence is unique to me.
However, I’ve often felt like I don’t deserve the label Queer. I didn’t struggle as a teenager coming out. I didn’t even know one could be bi back then. I’m married, I have a fair amount of privilege, I’ve never really been harassed, and I don’t present Queer enough.
I am Queer, however. I’m bisexual, which is not something that only “happens” to women after a few drinks or a “last stop” for gay guys who haven’t accepted that they’re actually gay yet.
Going by Three is a way for me to be accountable to myself and my identity. It’s a way to remind myself that the work I’m doing to create visible bi culture matters, and that I matter. I get to be bi/queer even if I am from the burbs (I’m speaking to both the heteronormartive suburban people and the LGBTQ community).
If I continue to be out in such a public manner, maybe the other people over 35 will give themselves permission to do the same. A number of people have told me that they feel like they’re “just” bisexual and not a “real gay.” Nope. We get to be here and live a life that is authentic to us even if it doesn’t follow any of the familiar standard social narratives.
My name is Three because I am choosing to be out and proud and loud no matter how uncomfortable that makes me and possibly you.