It is an honor to re-share my coming out story in honor of National Coming Out Day 2019. As a member of the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) campus community since 2013, I continue to be impressed and amazed by our queer communities on campus. So, it is an honor to re-share my story with our community, the larger campus community, and beyond. What follows is this story—originally written for the Journal of Bisexuality in 2016 (pp. 1-2)1:
“My self-identification began when I was 10. I lived in Houston, Alaska. I was watching “Donahue” on television with my mother. Donahue’s focus of the day was on bisexuality. I remember feeling a little confused. My mother had gay and lesbian-identifying friends, but I do not remember having heard the term “bisexual” until that moment. I asked my mom for clarification, “So they like girls and boys?” My mom replied, “Yes.” I replied somewhat quizzically, “How? Why?” She said, “Well, you know how we have always said you can love someone no matter their skin color, religion, etc.? Bisexual people just love people for who they are, and not for their gender or genitalia.” There was a pause and then she continued, “I think being bisexual is loving someone for who they are and not what they are, and I think it is beautiful.”
Shortly after this conversation, I remember staying at a friend’s house and us playing “Oregon Trail” on her Apple desktop computer. At one point I remember feeling so overcome with affection and good feelings for her that I said, “I love you.” There was a pause, and then I filled the silence with, “You know like as a friend.” Although by the age of 10 I had been well aware of my affectionate feelings for boys for about half of my life, it was not until this moment that I realized I had the same feelings for girls. Thankfully, the conversation with mom could not have come at a more fortuitous time, because as I came to this realization, instead of feeling shameful or bad about my fondness for people of both male and female genders, I felt like maybe I was bisexual, and maybe that was beautiful. I continued to have feelings for people of either binary gender throughout primary and secondary schooling; I never really acted on my feelings for girls. Growing up in a small, rural community in Alaska I knew it was just not a safe place to date girls as a girl. So, it was not until I attended college in Arizona that I started dating both women and men, as well as people of various gender diverse backgrounds and identities. By my senior year at university, I began publically identifying as bisexual.”
I am thankful to the UW-Stout queer communities for all their support of my identity and work. I hope that in re-sharing my coming out story that others have a chance to reflect on their own identities and related stories with feelings of support and encouragement.
Dr. Markie L. C. Twist (she/her/they/them), Ph.D., LMFT, LMHC, AASECT CSE & CSE Supervisor, AAMFT Clinical Fellow & Supervisor, is a Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Marriage and Family Therapy Program, and Program Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Sex Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout). Dr. Twist is a three-time UW-Stout Faculty Ally Qubie Award winner (2014, 2016, 2017), a receipent of the Debra Davis Award for Transgender Advocacy Qubie Award (2014), and a winner of the Outstanding Bisexual/Pansexual Advocacy Qubie Award (2019). Dr. Twist has also been recognized numerous times (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) as a faculty ally to queer-identifying students at the UW-Stout Rainbow Ally Recognition graduation ceremony, as well as served as the Keynote Speaker (2015) at this event. Most recently, Dr. Twist earned a UW-System P. B. Poorman Award (2019) for their work advacncing equity and inclusivity for queer persons and communities.