This is a great question--and one with which lots of bisexual people struggle. Ultimately, it's highly personal, and like any coming out question, the key isn't when it's "necessary" to anyone else; it's whether coming out is important to you.
(<Btw, Kalinda Sharma on "The Good Wife" is the most interesting bisexual character on television, in my opinion.)
Bisexuality can feel "invisible." When you're with someone of the opposite sex, people tend to assume you're straight; when you're with someone of the same sex, people tend to assume you're gay.
I know it's not fair that people make these assumptions, but I admit that I do the same. I know at least two out bisexual women who are married to men and have biological kids with them. They're living a "straight" life and are indistinguishable from other straight people. It's not that I'm "denying" their sexuality, just that I don't really think about people's sexuality beyond their current relationship unless they're talking to me about it, referring to a same-sex ex, or waving a Pride flag at me.
Here are a few things you might want to consider in your decision about whether to come out as bi:
- Some people don't like "passing" as straight when they're not. Will it bother you if people assume you're straight? Will you feel like you're "hiding" part of yourself?
- Some people prefer to pass as straight because it makes life easier with family, strangers, etc. One bisexual woman told me, "Since I have a choice, I only date men. Why would I make my life harder than it needs to be?" Does this resonate with you?
- Will it bother you if you're dating someone of the same gender and people assume you're gay? Some people are bothered by this. Others prefer it, because they like being part of the queer community.
- For some people it's important that their friends know who they "really" are.
- People in social circles do talk about this stuff. If you're out as bi, prospective dating partners of both sexes might feel free to express interest in you.
- How long have you known that you're bi?
- You don't have to come out to everyone at once. You might come out to one or two very close friends and see how you feel. You also don't need to come out in every setting. For example, some people don't come out at work because they don't think it's important.
- If you haven't done so already, you might read some stuff about coming out as bisexual. This will help you anticipate some of the comments/questions you might receive.
Since this is a decision I've never had to make, I can't speak from personal experience. But I can say that I much prefer being "out" as who I am over not being out as who I am.
I know I have plenty of bisexual readers out there. Any other advice you'd share?