Meet 19-year old Malaysian Dylan Ray… who also happens to be the first bisexual to be featured on the ‘Out Of The Closet’ series!
Raised in a low-income family, his dad is an English tuition teacher while his mum passed away when he was only 15-years old. Growing up, he never struggled much with his sexuality as his parents were both very liberal and heavily influenced by Western culture.
For me, I would say things were a little bit different…in a good way. I didn’t really struggle with finding my identity or hiding in the closet throughout my childhood and adolescence
My parents never discussed how homosexuality was ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’.
In fact, it was Dylan’s mum who taught him to be sympathetic to the plight of LGBT youth, despite the fact that she herself never knew that her own son was bisexual as she passed on before he came out of the closet.
Despite his parent’s liberal attitudes, like most LGBT youth, Dylan still struggled slightly with himself when he started feeling sexually attracted to guys as well. During his final year in high school, he developed a huge crush on a ‘super popular jock’. At first, Dylan attributed his feelings to just platonic admiration. But after doing some soul-searching, he concluded that his feelings went way beyond an innocent ‘man-crush’.
Admiration doesn’t make someone want to put his mouth on another guy’s mouth, does it? So I did my own research online, read up, and learned more about the human sexuality and the LGBT community. That was when I came to a conclusion that yeah, this (bisexual), is who I am.
Since accepting his sexuality, Dylan has been living life openly as a bisexual man. Although the response to his bisexuality has been mostly positive so far, just like many other bisexuals, he faces a lot of challenges that are unique to the bisexual community.
While the response from the straight community tend to lean towards curiosity
(Straight) people tend to be curious and ask a lot of questions. How does it work? What about sex? Can you please ‘turn’ back?
Dylan still encounters unfavourable responses every now and then from straight people
I worked at a bookstore last year and when I came out to my coworker she said, “There’s the psychology section over there, why don’t you go read a book.”
Ironically though, it’s the response from the gay community that generally tend to be more negative. Cynicism and disbelief is something that Dylan regularly encounters from gay people whenever they learn that he is a bisexual.
While I have yet to hear it in verbal form, I am pretty sure sometimes when I tell them, I can see some of their eyes going ‘Yeah right, just come out of the closet already and admit you are a homo’, which sadly is a usual response bisexuals would get from the gay community upon coming out.
Apart from having to contend with people questioning the legitimacy of his sexuality, another issue that Dylan has to deal with is the fact that bisexuals generally aren’t very welcome in the gay community. Despite the inclusion of the B in LGBT, bisexuals often don’t receive much love from the very community that they supposedly belong to. Biphobia and bisexual erasure are both prevalent issues within the gay community and a lot of it can be attributed to a lack of understanding towards bisexuals in general.
We are all supposed to be fighting for equality and LGBT rights together as a community. Instead, some of us here are trying to fight for the acknowledgement and acceptance of our existence within the community.
The heavily held misconceptions regarding the bisexual community has translated to some very real consequences for bisexuals in general, Dylan himself included. Currently single, Dylan reflects that
Most gay people would hesitate to date bisexuals because they think bisexuals will cheat on them or eventually ‘resort back to living the straight life’ because we just wanted to experiment with dating them.
Outside of his sexual identity however, Dylan Ray comes across as just another typical 19-year old. He is a huge fan of Beyonce, as evidenced by his social media account usernames. He also loves watching comedies and dramas and cites Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Schumer as his favourite comedians.
Currently working as a product consultant for Samsung, Dylan’s aspires to one day, pursue a career in the TV and film industry, preferably getting the opportunity to write his own shows in the genre of comedy.
Dylan has very bravely stepped forward to share his coming out story with us so read on to find out more about how Dylan got to where he is now!
- How was your first coming out experience like?
In hindsight, ridiculously weird but endearing for me. My dad and I fought a lot ever since my mum’s passing so our relationship is kind of rocky. So one night we had a heart to heart talk and for some reason… we started to discuss about the human sexuality. The whole time during our conversation, I kept implying that I might be able to be in a relationship with another guy (at that time I was still sorting out my feelings towards popular jock guy, I didn’t know if I really could see myself being committed to a guy) and he was saying things like “I am not homophobic, I am fine with gay people” and “many of my favourite singers are gay, like Elton John”.
Finally, before I went to bed, he asked me a question, “Can you kiss a guy? Cause I can’t do that.”
My reply was simple, “Yeah, I think I can.”
2. How is your family coping with it?
Well, my parents did always tell me all they want for me in life is ‘to be happy’, so it’s something I’m trying my best to live up to. I am pretty sure my mum would be fine with it if she were still alive. The reason being that she was actually the first person who exposed me to the LGBT community when I was merely 13, discussing with me about the heartbreaks kids face after coming out to their parents and how Asian families are more accepting with their gay kids compared to Western families, which is a fact I promptly disagree (with). As for my dad, ever since I publicly embraced my bisexuality, he became quite sensitive and reserved towards any topic related to my sexuality. He would tell me to try and not label myself anything. I think he is mainly worried about how people will treat me upon discovering my sexuality.
3. Have you encountered any biphobic incidents before?
I did encounter a few- which is totally expected- though admittedly they sort of came off more homophobic than biphobic. Most of them are just people commenting on how repulsive the idea of a person dating someone of the same-sex is.
(But) I had a close friend who discussed about why I couldn’t just ‘choose a side’ behind my back while she acted like everything was fine in front of me.
4. How has life changed for you after coming out?
Generally, not much. I started expanding my knowledge about the LGBT community and keeping myself updated with various issues we face. I met some new friends and even became a little involved in the gay scene for a while. I would say another good thing that came out of it was I had close friends who were struggling and they turned to me for advice. Frankly, I am glad they did it because it’s really important for you to be able to be open and talk about your feelings. Stop bottling your feelings up.
5. What advice do you have for bisexual people still hiding in the closet?
It’s the same advice over and over again: Don’t rush it.
Give yourself time to figure things out. If you feel like it’s time for you to come out, go ahead. If you don’t want to come out, it’s fine, don’t beat yourself up. Nothing is more important than you being happy with who you are. Sure, your sexuality plays a minor part in who you are, but claim your identity proudly and don’t let anyone take it away from you. Don’t label yourself if you don’t want to, it doesn’t matter. That is still your identity. You are the only one who gets to tell people who you are.
6. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about the bisexual community?
That we are still hiding in the closet, just too scared to come out as gay… From what I’ve seen, the gay community in general does not find bisexuals likeable and I think the community reacts this way due to not having an understanding of what bisexuality is. They either think bisexuals lie about their true sexuality, or are greedy cheaters. I’m sorry, if someone who claims to be bisexual cheated on you, that person isn’t bisexual. That person is a cheater and you should be dumping that ass immediately.
When you as a member of the (LGBT) community constantly deny the existence of bisexuals, you are perpetuating the act of what homophobes do on a daily basis- discrimination.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Remember that you are not alone. Talk to someone if you need to. There are always people who are willing to listen. You can even come to me if you want to.
You have the right to feel sad when you need to and happy when you want to, it’s okay to express yourself. Sometimes you find things don’t work out they way you hope they do and it’s fine. Not everything is going to, it’s normal and it’s life. The path is bumpy, but the ride is so worth it.
Once again, we would like to thank Dylan for sharing his story with us.
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