If you experience attraction to two or more genders, congratulations, you’re bisexual! It’s as simple as that.
Bisexuality is the attraction to other and the same genders as your own. My attractions aren’t limited to the socially accepted gender binary, I am attracted to all genders and I am currently in a monogamous marriage to a cisgender man. Being married doesn’t change or alter my attractions to other people nor does it invalidate my bisexuality.
Like other queer folks, bisexual people are confronted by a number of myths about what bisexuality is and isn’t, and we exist in a space where we’re consistently asked to prove the validity of our sexual orientation. So, I decided to put together a list of some things bi folks are tired of hearing/reading when we come out or when we’re discussing our bisexuality.
Bisexuality Isn’t Real
For one, it is. It is a real and valid sexual orientation that has been present for a long, long time, it just wasn’t known as “bisexuality” until the word was coined by Charles Gilbert Chaddock in his translation of Kraft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis. Bisexual people, including activists and advocates, have been crucial in creating the resources we use today and in planning Pride events. In fact, feminist bisexual activist, Brenda Howard, was instrumental in creating the first pride parade after the Stonewall Riots and is known as the “Mother of Pride”. So just remember, if you experience attraction to two or more genders, congratulations, you’re bi! It’s as simple as that.
You’re Only Bisexual if You’re Engaged Sexually with the Same Gender as Your Own
Bisexuality is not dependent on racking up a certain number of sexual exploits with the same and other genders. You’re still bisexual if you’ve never even sexually engaged with someone of the same gender! Bisexuality is much more than having sex with someone and just like heterosexual and gay folks, our relationships to other people are valid whether or not we have sex with them. Simply put, heterosexuals are hetero whether they’ve even had sex or not, and gays and lesbians are homosexual whether they have had sex with the same gender or not. The whole sum of our identities is not just informed by our gender, race and class, but by our sexual orientations as well and the way in which we perceive others, the way we feel about them, the way we consume culture, it is all informed by facets of our identity. So to base bisexuality—or any orientation—solely on who we are currently having sex with is an incomplete image of who everyone is. It is the attraction that you feel for the same and other genders that defines bisexuality, not how you act on it. Your bisexuality is enough!
Bisexual Men Don’t Exist, They’re Gay
Bisexual men are bisexual. They are attracted to their own gender and other genders. It is that simple. However, people view bi men as being “on the fence” or “not completely out” which is incredibly dismissive and damaging. According to a piece by Splinter, the reason bi men continue to be erased and dismissed is largely due to the gay liberation movement depending on solidifying the sexual binary with gays and lesbians striving for acceptance by suggesting that they were similar to heterosexuals, with the obvious exception of having partners of the same sex. This created a framework where bisexual people were painted as being simply confused. It was the AIDS crisis in the 1980s which drastically changed the setting for bisexual men and the bi community’s push for acceptance because bisexual men were thought to be the bridge between gay men and heterosexual women—a damaging myth which developed into the biphobia against men we know of today.
Bisexual People Cheat More Often Than Monosexuals
Because there are persistent myths about bisexual people being confused, greedy and hypersexual, there are also persistent myths that bisexual people are more likely to cheat on their partners. That is simply not true. These stereotypes impact us in sometimes violent ways, and can also lead to people of our same gender not wanting to date us because they think we’re simply not queer enough, while other genders may view us as too promiscuous or not “serious” relationship material. Bisexual people do not cheat any more or any less than heterosexual and gay folks.
Bisexuality is a Phase for People Who Can’t Pick
BISEXUALITY IS NOT A PHASE! As I stated earlier, bisexuality is a real and valid sexual orientation. It is not a pit stop on our way to heterosexuality or homosexuality! We aren’t confused and we aren’t greedy. I am going to say it again: bisexuality is a valid sexual orientation, and being in relationships with heterosexual or homosexual people does not alter that in any way whatsoever. Our identities carry just as much weight as other people’s do. To continue to perpetuate this particular myth is to trivialize and dismiss our perspectives, experiences and feelings. That is gaslighting, that is abusive.
Bisexual People aren’t as Oppressed as Other Queer People
There is a tendency to play oppression olympics during our discourse about queer identities. While it is true that lesbian and gay communities are consistently marginalized for their sexual orientations, so are bisexual folks and that fact doesn’t negate or take anything away from the experiences of gays and lesbians. According to Pew, bisexual people are much less likely to come out than gay men and lesbians, and only 28% of them have told those closest to them. According to the CDC, 61% of bisexual women face stalking, sexual and physical violence, for lesbian women it’s 43.8%, gay men 26%, and bisexual men 37.3%. Bisexual people also suffer from the highest rates of mental health issues with bisexual women being at the highest risk for suicide and depression mostly due to a lack of acceptance by society in general and discrimination within the queer community.