People march with the LGBTQ+ flag at the Pride parade held on June 30, 2019, in Manhattan, NY. The parade is held every summer in June. GARY GHAYRAT/THE STATESMAN

Mike Gaisser is a junior journalism major and a political science minor.

It was a cool October day at the King Parks Psychiatric Center, a now abandoned psychiatric hospital on Long Island, NY. A friend and I had driven there to take some pictures for a new album he was working on. 

After we took the pictures he wanted, we took a walk through the center of the abandoned hospital grounds, passing by the creepy, graffiti-filled buildings with no one else around us. 

As we were talking, there was something very heavy weighing on me that I needed to tell him. Something that I had kept secret for many years and told no one about. We sat down on the grass and I unloaded my biggest baggage. 

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“I’m attracted to more than just women,” I said, as I nervously fiddled with the grass. I knew I was romantically attracted to women, but physically attracted to men. Therefore, I came out as bisexual. 

I knew I was physically attracted to the same gender probably since sixth grade and there was no mistaking it. As I got older, certain physical physiques of guys would “turn me on” (for lack of a better term). I never felt that way about girls or women, unlike the other boys I was surrounded by. 

I grew up and went to public school in the small hamlet of Commack, Long Island. I always felt different than the other boys and never clicked with one particular group. There wasn’t much diversity in my hometown, but I knew LGBTQ+ people existed. However, I didn’t know any personally until I graduated high school. 

I never had anyone telling me being gay or bisexual was okay and no big deal. I remember having several crushes on girls and always wanting to have a girlfriend, but that never materialized. And throughout middle and high school, I never told anyone about my true sexuality.

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I was also asked about my sexuality in different ways. For example, I remember lying to a physician about being physically attracted to the opposite gender when asked. In all these instances, I lied about being straight. 

I graduated high school and entered college in 2016 as a journalism major. I slowly began to grow sick of the lying and denying. In recent years, I preached acceptance and tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community and I even wrote an article on how several U.S. colleges support the community’s rising numbers. Yet I was still denying my own sexuality. I perceived myself as a hypocrite. 

My physical attraction to the same gender never changed or disappeared. I didn’t want to accept my sexuality because I felt like I needed to be straight in a heteronormative world. But I finally hit my breaking point in October 2019 after National Coming Out Day, just a few months short of my 22nd birthday. I wasn’t being honest with myself for so many years and just had enough. At that point, it felt more dirty to lie and deny my sexuality, than to just accept it as part of me.

I told myself, “Mike, it’s literally just the same gender. It’s not a big deal. Just say it and be done with it!” So I did, and there was no turning back. 

After I came out, I felt a huge sense of relief. The shame had finally gone away. For the first time, I began feeling happy with myself because I was finally okay with my attraction towards the same gender. 

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I felt like I came out rather late, but I did it when I was ready and I knew for sure that I was bisexual. It was a slow process, going from full denial to total acceptance. I wouldn’t have been able to handle being outed earlier even though I had developed a “don’t give a s – – -” attitude. 

It’s worth stressing that someone’s sexual orientation is their own personal business. Every person has the right to decide who they want to share it with, when and how. 

I struggled with the decision to put my sexuality out there like this, but the reason I wanted to was so that I could speak to anyone still struggling. If you’re still not accepting your sexuality, you will have to stop that one day! It doesn’t feel good to lie to yourself about it. You will hit a breaking point because you’re never going to be able to change it. From my experience, accepting and admitting it will make you happier with yourself. But this is a personal, internal process that will take time. Anyone who would take issue with your sexuality isn’t worth keeping in your life. 

Human sexuality is completely natural. As college students, we may not talk about it much, but with the exception of asexuals, we all feel physical attraction. No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed about it and we have no choice in what gender we are attracted towards. 

I don’t know where my bisexuality will take me or how it will affect my life because I’m open dating either gender. The result of living in denial was the worst feeling and I don’t wish that on anybody. Accepting myself was something I felt like I needed to do to move forward.

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