The “B” is for Bisexual

26 Mar

I recently had a moment of synchronicity that got me thinking about the “B” in LGBT. While reading a book in which the main character was bisexual, I stumbled across a blog post  that used bisexuals as an argument against marriage equality. (More on both of these shortly.) I realized that I’ve lived with homophobia and spent a fair amount of time fighting transphobia but hadn’t really looked at the struggles of bisexuals.

Sadly, many within the gay community practice denial and discrimination against bisexuals. I’ve often heard two types of statements made both jokingly and seriously:

  • (S)he’ll figure it out eventually – implying that the person is really gay and just not ready to come “all the way out”
  • (S)he has it easy and can just find someone of the opposite sex and “pass”

Let’s be clear: bisexuality is real. People fall all along the Kinsey scale, and there are many people who are truly attracted to people of both sexes. Far too many people on either end of the scale ignore or deny its very real middle. Such denial is bi-phobic  discrimination; discrimination against any sexual minority is wrong.

Besides the misconceptions mentioned above, one other significant false charge leveled against bisexuals is that they must be inherently promiscuous or incapable of commitment. Surely someone who is attracted to both sexes cannot be happy with just one person, the reasoning goes.

This was the argument made by the psuedo-christian arguing against marriage equality: If we allow equality for gay and lesbian couples, surely bisexuals will demand bigamy so they can be fully satisfied in their relationships. This is absurdist reasoning at its worst. It’s akin to saying that a man who is attracted to both blondes and redheads cannot be satisfied unless he can marry two women to satisfy both attractions. Marriage is a union of two people. Bisexuals may find their life partner in either sex, but there is nothing that compels them to need both at once.

There are certainly people who are promiscuous, polyamorous, unfaithful, or commitment-phobic. These people may be gay, lesbian, transgender, straight, confused, in denial, or former Speakers of the House. Knowing someone’s sexual orientation does not tell you anything else about their needs, desires, or behavior.

For more information, the blog Datingish has a great list and refutation of the most common misconceptions about bisexuality. I also recommend the sweet novel The Cranberry Hush by Ben Monopoli. He creates a very real, compelling bisexual character and makes it easy for the reader to sympathize with his struggles.

Let’s be sure that we remember all the letters in LGBTQ and support our bisexual brothers and sisters.

h/t to GayLeague for the review that directed me to The Cranberry Hush.

6 Responses to “The “B” is for Bisexual”

  1. Jay March 27, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    Thanks for the post, Robert, and for the link as well, which correctly identified many of the misconceptions and difficulties bisexuals face. One phenomena the link didn’t mention was ’rounding’–Kinsey 1’s and 2’s rounding themselves down to straight and Kinsey 4’s and 5’s rounding themselves up to gay. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with this–choosing to identify with one’s primary attraction is understandable and I won’t judge those who do this–but it tends to lead to under-reporting of bisexuality, and can lead to misunderstandings. For example, our disagreement about about “I Kissed a Girl”–I interpreted it as a song about a Kinsey 1 having some non-life-changing fun and you interpreted it as joylessly exploitative. Neither of us so much ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (in my opinion) but rather each of us bringing a different set of preconceptions to the song. I think bisexuals frequently have to cope with this sort of misunderstanding, often regarding situations weightier than a pop song. Thanks again, not only for this posting but for this blog.

    • rhulshofschmidt March 27, 2011 at 7:09 am #

      Thanks, Jay. I hadn’t thought about rounding, but I believe you’re right. There’s something in human nature that makes us yearn for definition. It’s comforting to say “this is what I am.” That makes it easy to reduce Kinsey to 0-3-6.
      I’m glad you enjoy Michael’s blog. He’s built a great community here and I’m privileged to lend my voice to it when the spirit moves.

  2. allie May 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    love you babe! as a bisexual woman, this article is amazing! for YEARS i repressed how i felt for both sexes, so much that i said screw it i’m asexual because i felt i had to make a choice on a gender when in fact i couldn’t do it at all! i’m equally attracted to both and i’m the most boring bisexual you will ever meet! i am extremely monogamous and i never have or will have a three way. it gets annoying at times because you see people who claim to be bisexual on tv (tila tiquila how i loath you!) who really aren’t and it makes it look fake, slutty or phony. the way i see it is this, if i fall in love with a woman, why would i deny that because i am a woman, and if i fall in love with a man, why would i deny that because i’ve once been in love with a woman. i’m open to different races and religions, why not genders! i think its getting better though, younger gay and lesbian activists are hearing our call and realizing that bisexuality is not a joke or “cop out”. growing up i never felt like i fit in, i liked boys the same way as girls and was taught only “slutty” girls are this way, they do it for attention. so i quickly repressed my feelings and went through life not dating either sex. i came out to my self when two weeks ago after being in big denial about it. i told myself that i was just going through a phase, yeah a phase that lasted 12 years! i know the truth about myself and i have never been happier! i hope men out there can feel the same way without judgement, i know theres a double standard and that sucks horribly!

    • rhulshofschmidt May 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

      Thank you for weighing in; I’m glad you liked the post. It really is amazing how badly some people want to shove everyone into boxes that they understand, regardless of where they are coming from themselves. Thanks for sharing your story and perspective. Let’s hope it helps clear up this confusion.

      • allie May 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm #



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