Bisexuals?

by Jason Stotts

The always interesting Violet Blue (obviously her real name) has a new post up about bisexuality and how it can be hard to be bi in today’s world.

Understanding bisexuality is not as straightforward as being straight, and while understanding queerness of any stripe engenders compassion and tolerance, it’s more commonly understood than bisexuality. Not to say that people who look at bisexuality and say that bis are confused should get a pass because bisexuality is a slightly more nuanced sexual orientation. As a girl who practices bisexuality (practice makes perfect) yet is primarily straight, and as someone who certainly “passes” for straight in the outside world, it’s a refreshing piece that’s worth reading even if you’re not bisexual. I live in this world as a straight girl, and I’m a happy one. But also speaking for myself, it’s confusing to navigate being bisexual. Painfully so. I don’t understand why I feel the way I do, and until only recently, none of my boyfriends have really tried to understand either. I don’t have an explanation as to why I fall in love with men and want that as my lifelong commitment, but that I also unflinchingly desire female lovers in my life.

She links to a recent essay in The Guardian called “Bisexuals: Putting the B back in LGBT” where the author has this to say:

I’m constantly baffled by the exclusion of bisexuals. I blame bad science, or rather bad scientists. Every year it seems there’s a new study on “what makes people gay”. Oddly, this is expected to be an on-off switch, and the researchers look in the genes, or the brain or the length of fingers for a sign that one set of people will be queer, now and for always, and another proving the rest will remain 100% straight. It takes a special kind of rigidity of outlook to construct a survey on finger length and decide beforehand there’s no middle ground. They then say everyone’s “straight, gay or lying” but for that to be true there would have to be an awful lot of liars out there. The last Observer poll on sexual attitudes showed that 4% of people – one in 25 – identified as homosexual, and half as many again identified separately as bisexual.

But this sort of thinking fuels the mythical status of bi people. People are quick to tinker with the definition of bisexual until it’s not something anyone would willingly pick for themselves. Bisexuals are supposed to be equally attracted to men and women – always androgyny, but never to trans people – and always at the same time. They supposedly need to have identical amounts of sex with both, and don’t notice the differences between them (which might get painful in bed, I reckon). We’re all told bisexuality is a phase that everyone goes through and grows out of, and no one’s a “proper” bisexual, even though “everyone’s bisexual really”. Bisexuals are depicted as the monsters spreading Aids, and breaking the hearts of partners inevitably cast aside for a different gender. Who’d want to be bi!

Oddly, the only people not confused about bisexuality are the bisexuals themselves, with groups like The Bisexual Index advocating a clearer definition – they simply suggest anyone who is attracted to more than one gender should consider identifying as bi. It’s not about amount of attraction either, just as simply preferring lettuce to liver doesn’t make you a vegan.

For my own sake, I am sympathetic to their problems with being bi.  People seem to be completely stuck in rigid categories of “straight” or “gay” and cannot open their minds to see that our sexual orientation is on a continuum.  For a fuller account of my views on bisexuality, see my essays: “On Bisexuality“, “Kinsey and Sexual Identity“,  and “Bisexual Species“.

3 Responses to “Bisexuals?”


  1. Kelly Elmore

    Yay for this. I am bi, but I am partnered with a man. So I am straight right? Well no! I still like women, though I am not sleeping with any. I get so sick of being left out (and sometimes purposely excluded) from LBGT stuff. I had someone in an education class ask me why I would go to the PRIDE parade with my boyfriend and daughter. When I told her I was bi, she looked at me like I was crazy.

  2. Kelly Elmore

    And when I was still on the dating market, it was hard to know whether to tell women that I was bisexual. It seems like being attracted to them and making a date with them is enough disclosure for a first date, but lesbians can get real upset when you are bi. One girl that I didn't see after a few dates cause she was REALLY serious and clingy got mad when I told her I didn't want to go out anymore and said it must be because I was going back to men. It's hard to date as a bisexual.

  3. Jason

    Kelly,

    I can imagine it'd be really hard to date as a bisexual woman. From what I've read, bisexuals are basically considered to be a "transitional phase" by "real" lesbians and as just "in gay denial" by everyone else. It's so strange to me that people can't consider it it's own category.

    I imagine it'd be even harder as a bi male to find people to date because most males would become openly hostile if approached about it, if they weren't already receptive to the idea.

    ~Jason