This article is based upon the experience of a small group of bisexual women, queer femmes, and other multi-gender-loving identities personal stories and is not meant to discredit other people’s experiences.
Identifying as a bisexual has several outcomes, and while living authentically is rewarding, it often results in the bombardment of exhausted questions such as “why don’t you just pick a side?” or “so you’re like half-gay and half-straight?” The answers to those questions seem so bluntly obvious to several of us intellectual queers, but I’m afraid more than just heterosexuals are guilty of micro-aggression and bi-phobia. Within the LGBTQ+ community as well as the straight community there is a stigma surrounding bisexuals and other multi-gender-loving identities that creates obstacles when it comes to relationships. As a result, stereotypes have developed that perpetuate the idea bisexuals are more likely to cheat, are experimental heterosexuals that will end up with the opposite sex, or gay people who haven’t fully come to terms with their sexuality. These ignorant myths about bisexuality have been so deeply ingrained in our culture, that often bisexuals grow up thinking they can’t identify as bisexual because they do not make a connection with the 50% straight, 50% gay trope that is a false representation of the complex identity.
Straight men have a sense of entitlement when it comes to queer women, and it can be tiring to be sexualized and invalidated in the same breath. “You just need one night with me and then you’ll pick a side”, “Oh so you are a girl who likes to have fun?”, “Can I watch next time you’re with a girl?,” “Oh so you must be down for threesomes then?” Let me clear some things up. Just because someone is bisexual does not mean they are sexually attracted to everyone they see. A straight person would surely find it ridiculous if people assumed they are ready to hop into bed with every member of the opposite gender, and yet that’s the fantasized conclusion people make about bisexuals. Bisexuals are seen as promiscuous partners who are not loyal. Believe it or not, a person’s promiscuity and faithfulness does not correlate with their sexual orientation! Both characteristics are the result of actions and conscious decisions where as sexuality is something you are born with. This assumption enforces the idea that bisexuality is nonexistent and those who identify as such are confused, experimental individuals who have chosen a false identity that is defined by their actions (often sexual). The discrimination bisexuals face is often an intersection of sexualization, objectification, and invalidation. In simpler terms, people are looking at us as confused sexual objects.
There is several definitions for bisexuality, meaning one can redefine it for themselves. Bisexual is a label one chooses to express their sexuality, and you don’t have to meet a specific criteria to identify with the term. For me and many others, bisexuality just means one has a sexual attraction towards multiple gender identities and sexes. There is a common misconception that the bisexual identity is trans-exclusive, as some older definitions describe it as just sexual attraction to men and women. This however is not the only definition, and bisexuality is a very broad identity that can mean different things to different individuals. A predominant preference for one gender identity over the other is fairly common. In my case my romantic and emotional attraction towards women and femmes is much stronger, although the label bisexual is far more comfortable for me personally then gay or lesbian. It took me a while to understand my sexuality and feel as though I belonged to a group because I grew up thinking you were either gay, straight, or a 50/50 bisexual that will eventually come out as one of the two. Of course my understanding of the topic has immensely improved since then, but my perception was a result of what my peers, teachers, and media were teaching me. Eventually I did proper research, met people who identified as bisexuals, and soon realized that everyone landed in a different place on the spectrum and defined the term differently.
Bisexual became a very empowering label for me. I felt that with such a flexible label I wasn’t being restricted or misrepresented. On the journey towards coming out I realized that labels are here for us to feel empowered, connected, and understood. They are broad, each individual interprets them differently, and they allow you to accept and better understand yourself. Bisexual is a label that individuals with unique personalities all across the spectrum use because it gives them a sense of community and pride. Bisexuality doesn’t define how promiscuous, loyal, or decisive you are. We are all different, and therefore generalizations based on one of the many words that one uses to describe themselves are invalid. Especially considering how broad and multifaceted the word bisexual is. The truth about bisexuality put in simple words? Bisexual isn’t a static label that defines you, you define it and it becomes an important piece of your identity.