Grown-ish S2E5

grownish3If you are not watching the show Grown-ish, start now! Actually, start with Black-ish for some context, then quickly binge your way through Grown-ish afterwards. Black-ish, starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, was created by Kenya Barris and airs on ABC. It’s about a black father who is creating a sense of ethnic identify for his children who are sometimes receptive and other times create their own way of navigation. The show is superbly relevant and covers topical issues in a really incredible way. Grown-ish, starring Yara Shahidi, is the extremely relatable spin-off show, in which we follow the oldest daughter, Zoey, through her college endeavors. The show is a very accurate depiction of some of the issues with college, including experimenting with substances, sexuality, and career goals.

Season 2, Episode 5 of Grown-ish is called “Girls Like You”, and aired on 1/22/19. The episode focuses on Zoey’s friend Nomi, who is a bisexual female coming into her own. I relate to Nomi’s cgrownish2haracter, played by Emily Arlook, not just because she is bisexual, but also because she is a free spirit and is totally imperfect. I also really appreciate the way that the show has depicted her character as truly bisexual, showing her with a variety of people. It’s been really empowering for me to see her with a male interest in one episode, (where they actually explore the unfair stereotypes associated with male bisexuality) and also explore relationships with women later in the season. She’s not seen as “experimenting” or “going through a phase” – *INSERT MY GIANT EYE ROLL HERE* – she’s literally just living. And I’m here for it.

The episode starts out by going through annoying (yet hilarious) roommate habits, including using the bathroom while others are present or passive aggressive Venmo requests. Then we go through something most college roommates experience – hook ups. Except, Nomi’s roommates think that she is having too many, and they are concerned about the way in which she is seducing these women.

Please let me just say – this episode was amazing to watch. I simultaneously wanted to be Nomi but also wanted to go home and spend the night with her. Of course, there was a EMILY ARLOOKlot that was exaggerated here as a result of the “player” attitude that the show has given her and the idea that everyone experiments in college. But it also highlighted some really important ideas, stereotypes, and conversations. One of Nomi’s friends gives her a hard time because the way Nomi is acting by hooking up with lots of girls without meaning reminds her friend of typical “dude” behavior. She can relate to the girls on the other end of the hook ups, and as a result, feels some type of way about it.

Zoey follows Nomi out to a bar and sees her interacting with a female interest, and realizes Nomi’s super power. Nomi is able to be charismatic in a way that’s relatable but also attractive, which is totally different than flirting with a guy. In the episode, Nomi is using this idea to seduce straight women into their first lesbian experience, knowing that she isn’t going to call in the morning. Zoey helps her realize that part of the reason that Nomi might be acting this way is because she’s comfortable keeping women at a distance, since she has yet to come out to her very conservative family.

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THEN. ENTER SHANE. OH MY GOD. (If you see the picture to the right and you still don’t know what I’m talking about – please hand me your gay card, go binge The L Word on Netflix, and you can have it back when you understand why I am freaking out.) Except, she’s not Shane. She’s Professor Hewson, here to teach Nomi all about being gay!!! HAPPY DAY!!!! (I’m sorry, I’ll calm down – this whole thing just made me so incredibly happy.)

I’d like to just quickly debunk an important myth here – not all straight girls experiment in college. Or in life. If you try to hit on a straight girl, most of the time it’s not going to go your way. Trust me; I’ve been there.  I’m not telling you that it’s impossible, and I’m not telling you not to make an attempt. But I am telling you not to go in with the expectations of Nomi’s results.

grownish1That being said, I absolutely loved this episode and this show overall. I hope that they can use Nomi’s character to explore what it’s like to come out as a bisexual. I’m hoping that they continue to show Nomi’s progression and experiences as she navigates her way. Also, I certainly hope that Professor Hewson is not going anywhere anytime soon!

“Watch out world, I’m grown now.”

Thanks for reading.

Coming Out: An Update

Wow. You all really showed up for my last post, huh? I mean, I post links to this blog all the time and I’ve never gotten the buzz that I did last week. A whopping ten people felt compelled to click and read what I had to say about JVN, but over one hundred of you wanted to get the details once it got super personal. I guess everyone wants in on the spilled T.

Let me just say that my parents are very understanding and open-minded people, and I never for one second thought that this was going to be an issue in my family. Truthfully, I was very much under the impression that they probably already knew. I had been playing with the idea of “coming out”, not even knowing if I felt the need to. This never felt like some deep dark secret to me, so I didn’t feel like I had to make some grand announcement.

Well, apparently that’s what I did last week.

When I wrote that post, I wasn’t thinking about who would read it – I know what my stats usually looked like, and there’s not often a lot of traffic. If anything, I thought it would just be helpful for me to write this out and maybe to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted exactly. Looking back, I’m regretful that I made that post public before talking to my parents. I think I was just trying to figure things out for myself, and I didn’t think it all the way through. Sitting someone down and telling them about my sexuality didn’t seem like the right thing for me personally to do, but maybe it’s also about who is on the other end of that conversation as well. I certainly didn’t mean for all these conversations to be had without me there.

That being said, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my parents and I feel really good about where things are right now. There was a lot of open dialogue that I knew would be there whenever I was ready to have it. And of course, there was a lot of love that will always be there to make me wildly uncomfortable when directly pointed my way.

So to anyone reaching out to my family members asking if they “are okay”, yeah they’re fucking great, thanks for asking.

To anyone who has reached out to me directly, thank you so much and please know that I really appreciated your words. It was very validating to hear from other bisexuals, and having that support means a lot.

I’ll try not to get on my soapbox about this, but it’s annoying that I had to “come out”. It’s annoying that the default is set to ‘straight’. It’s annoying that I have to tell everyone if it’s different. And it’s annoying that once I do, it’s a hot topic of conversation. I know I’m not a very private person, and I don’t really have secrets of my own. But being bisexual somehow by default gave me this secret that I never even wanted to keep in the first place. I will admit that while I usually love having all of the attention on me, I think I would do things just a little bit differently if I was given a second chance.

This whole experience was truly more than I signed up for. Without meaning to, I made myself feel exposed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed. But now, I also feel relieved, supported, and content. I’m out! And I’m totally done paying my gay dues for now.

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Thanks for reading.

Bisexuality

Hi, I’m Gina and I am bisexual – this may or may not be the first time you are hearing this, but it is most definitely not the first time I have said this.

I’ve known that I was attracted to both men and women from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the terminology for it. I spent most of my youth under the presumption that people are either gay or straight, and there weren’t really any other options. I always liked boys and never had any trouble feeling comfortable around them, so in my head that meant I must be straight. Sure, when I was alone I spent time finding Tumblr videos of girls kissing, but I was kissing boys in real life, so come on I must be straight, right????

If you get super super technical, the first person I ever kissed was a girl. I don’t really consider this my “first kiss”, because we were just little girls playing stupid games and it wasn’t anything meaningful – I may not have even been 10 years old yet. In middle school I started kissing boys and having boyfriends, and I was always a little ahead of my friends in terms of “experience”.

In high school, I had a female friend who I got super close with, got drunk for the first time with, and had my first lesbian experience with. The experience itself was very PG, but this was the first time where I was kissing a girl who was kissing me back and it was intentional – even if heavily influenced by alcohol. After my straight guy friends learned about this, there was a lot of encouragement whenever we were drinking for me to make out with the other girls. I happily obliged of course, but I continued to date guys exclusively. By the end of high school, I had probably kissed just as many girls as I had guys, but I only had experience past that with the guys, and I had never been romantically involved with a girl.

This didn’t change much as I entered college and I continued to be involved with men romantically, but fantasizing about women in my alone time. I was still under the impression that I was straight, I just figured I was more sexually open than most people. I believed myself to be more open in general than most, so I didn’t put too much extra thought into my sexuality as a whole.

Enter the world of Tinder. Tinder became a thing sometime while I was still in college and it was common on my campus. As I set up my profile to start swiping, I was faced with filling out some preferences:

Are you interested in:
○ Men
○ Women
○ Both

Both? OMG. BOTH?! IS THAT AN OPTION?! CAN I DO THAT?!

Both. BOTH!

That’s when things clicked for me. That’s when I stopped thinking that I had to be on one side or the other, either gay or straight, and maybe I could actually sit somewhere on the fence.

I clicked both, and started swiping on both men and women.

For a while, this was just an internal thought. I hadn’t fully identified with the word “bisexual” yet, even if I had rolled it around in my head a few times. Even though I was matching with and talking to girls on Tinder, I wasn’t meeting up with any of them in real life and was instead still spending my time involved with men. I even started dating someone towards the end of college, and I would think to myself, “I’ll explore girls more if/when we break up.” In my head, I had put my sexuality on hold (even though I was still swiping and talking with girls here and there when my boyfriend was being a dick).

By the time we broke up, I was sure that this was something I wanted to explore. I had had plenty of experiences with men, and I wanted to bring my female experiences up to par. I started hooking up with a girl that I had a crush on who was sort of in my friend group and identified as a lesbian. When our friends first got wind that we were a thing, they asked me if I was a lesbian also. This was the first time I said the words out loud: “Nope, I’m bi.”

* Insert fireworks and celebration sound effects here *

Since then, I’ve dated both men and women openly and happily. I spent over a year in a relationship with a man, and now that I am single again I would like to focus more on being with women. I believe my sexuality will always be fluid and I will always pride myself in having an open mind and an open heart.

That’s as much of a “coming out” story as I have so far. My friends have kind of organically learned about it over the past several years as I told them about my involvement with different people. I’m open about it with new people I meet and become involved with. My coworkers all know I am openly bisexual and I even indicated this in my voluntary demographics.

However, I never had that serious sit down with my parents (if you’re reading this – sorry, Mom and Dad!) where I look them in the eye and tell this deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years and wait to see if I still have their approval. It’s not like that for me – it wasn’t something I was ever “hiding”, it was something I was still figuring out. I also don’t need anyone’s approval about it, not that I think anyone would really have an issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about telling them in some way that was maybe more casual, but it’s been hard for me to conceptualize the right words. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with the word “bisexual” (watch the Hulu show, The Bisexual), and I think this could be potentially difficult to navigate with my parents. That being said, I want to be open and honest with my family. I would also feel bad if they were to learn about it from someone that wasn’t me, making them feel sad that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Maybe I’m dealing with having some feelings of guilt or something, that’s for my therapist to figure out. The point is that I have gotten to a place now where I would like them to know.

So, instead of coming out in some formal way, I’ve been passive aggressively reposting outwardly bisexual things to my Instagram story and allowing my family to view them. Not kidding – my parents both have Instagrams and see everything that I post and I’ve just been making it semi/extremely obvious:

 

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Am I being too subtle?

So yeah, that’s my experience so far. To be honest, I feel pretty good about it overall. And I’m excited about what is to come in the future.

Thanks for reading!