Sexuality is a spectrum, right? What happens if you discover you’re a bisexual woman … after you’ve married a man? That’s exactly what happened to Libby. This is her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Libby. I live in Central Kansas with my partner and our pets. I write a blog and am helping to develop a local art and literary magazine called &/Both.
I also work at a bookstore where I get to meet readers all day and that’s one of my most favorite things. I love to paint, read, and do all kinds of other inside-cat types of activities.
Tell us a bit about your husband.
Ryan was a few grades ahead of me in high school but he and I never really connected until I was in my mid-twenties and just so happened to move into his apartment building. At this point, we’ve been together for six years, married for two and a half.
I love being married to Ryan. He’s hilarious and intelligent and creative. He really is a true partner. Since day one, I’ve always been drawn to the way that he allows people to be themselves fully. He lives his life knowing that there are no good people and no bad people—we’re all just people.
He lives his whole life without judgment of others and that’s something that’s not only been a blessing to me in partnering with him but something that challenges me to be better and do better.
Growing up, how did you think about sexuality?
I grew up in an evangelical Christian, church-three-times-a-week kind of family in the middle of Kansas and the thoughts on sexuality were very cut and dry. Straight was right and gay was wrong and, oh by the way, those are the only two options.
As an adult, I began to lay down some of the values that I was raised with and in doing so, I’ve felt a passion for fighting for the “others” among us—in particular the LGBTQA+ community. I just didn’t realize that I would become a part of that group.
When I look back on my adolescence, I can see that there were plenty of times where, had I been given space or the information, I might have realized that I had an attraction to other genders at that point. But that’s not how things went—I just was straight because we were a straight people.
It was a label that was applied to me and I accepted, just like so many other labels. We’re born into them and we keep them until they start to not fit very well.
How did you discover you were bisexual?
For me, there was both an out of the blue epiphany and a gradual unfurling of truth.
Boiling a very nuanced story down into a few sentences is going to lose so much. But let me just say that one night at a party, I felt an attraction to a very good friend of mine. This was so strong and so undeniable that there was only a matter of a few hours between when it started and when I told Ryan about it.
It was so heavy and pressing and demanding that I didn’t even feel comfortable in my skin until I spilled it all out to him when I got home. I’m a verbal processor and I knew that if I talked to anyone but Ryan—that would have been a betrayal. I don’t know if that’s the case for everyone’s relationships but it was true for mine.
At first, I told myself that I wasn’t attracted to women, it was just this particular woman. But as time wore on, I was able to realize that wasn’t the case. This moment in time had simply unlocked something bigger that I truly had no idea was living inside of me but acknowledging it felt like I was fully breathing for the first time.
How did you tell your husband about this?
Like I said, I came to Ryan immediately. I can’t remember exactly what I said but there was a lot of, “I had no idea” and “I’m so sorry” and “what do I do?”
He was quiet at first, letting it all sink in and allowing me to ramble. But he told me over and over again that he loves me and that it’s okay. We talked for a long time about it that night and in the end he said, “So, this sounds like something you should explore.”
Knowing him the way I do, I shouldn’t have been surprised by his reaction. He told me, once, that he was excited to get to be married to an ever-changing, dynamic person and that gave me wings.
How has this affected your marriage?
This has changed everything… and nothing all at the same time.
Day-to-day our life looks exactly the same way that it did before. I like to describe this as having turned up the color in every aspect of my life. That includes my marriage.
Ryan and I communicate so much more intentionally and wholeheartedly these days. Months of connecting so deliberately about this topic has created a habit that carries over into other aspects of our marriage.
We’re far more mindful in addressing things as they come up rather than allowing them to build up. We’re not perfect but this is one area where I’ve noticed beautiful improvement.
As for opening up our marriage? All I can say for sure is that it’s not something we feel like we need right now. We have friends who have opened their marriages and it’s great for them. We also have friends who have chosen to do that and the results were not so great. Just like with any decision, really. Every marriage is so different.
Have you told anyone else your life about your bisexuality?
At first, I just told my closest friends. They all reacted with various levels of surprise and concern but they all have been so quick to express their unconditional love and trust in me. And that’s really all I can ask for.
Some family members have been silent on the topic. Some family members have been very vocal about their disappointment. Others have told me that they are so proud of me and they are so happy to know me better. I don’t need everyone to celebrate this part of me but in an ideal world, my people will trust me and we’re just not there yet.
For Bisexual Visibility Week, I decided to come out on my blog. So, now everyone who follows my blog or follows me on Facebook knows.
Ever since then, I’ve gotten dozens of messages from friends and strangers alike saying, “Me, too.” And that’s why I spoke up—to let people know that they don’t have to live in shame or fear that their life has to be upended by this realization.
What tools/websites/books/etc have helped you navigate this?
Podcasts are my favorite way to learn. Cameron Espisito has one called Queery that I started listening to recently and I’ve loved just learning about the normality of this life.
There’s also a recent episode of Down For Whatever that features an interview with a woman who discovered that she was a lesbian after having been married for a long time. Our stories aren’t identical but it was a relief to hear a story that was at least similar to mine.
Truth be told, I’m touching my toes very slowly into this area so I haven’t sought out that much as far as tools just yet.
What advice would you give to anyone else in a similar situation?
Well, I hope that you have a safe space to express what’s going on with you. Whether it’s your partner, a friend, or even just an online community. And if you don’t have any of those things, send me an email. I’d love to connect with you.
I don’t think you have to come out especially if you don’t feel safe in doing so but I do believe that even private self-acceptance can be a revolutionary act.
More than anything, I want you to know how absolutely normal it is to reevaluate your sexuality long after you’ve entered into an “established” time of life. I hope you’re forever learning new things about yourself and falling deeper and deeper in love with who you find.
What have you learned from this that ANY of us could apply to our lives?
Nayyirah Waheed wrote, “Some people, when they hear your story, contract. Others, upon hearing your story, expand. And that is how you know.”
This is probably my biggest lesson. Living my honest life has taught me who my people are and those who are not. Being yourself is going to give you a chance to see who’s really on your team. You’ll be surprised to find who’s there and also who is not. And either way, it is a true gift if you’re ready to embrace it.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Libby. Do you guys have any (polite! respectful!) questions for her?