To truly be a LGBTQ+ ally it helps to understand the movement and while you may not walk in those shoes, sorting out the myths from facts is a good start. Katrina Marshall puts bisexuality in the spotlight.
Pride Month (every June) is a time when members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are encouraged to celebrate their identities. It is also a time when capitalism appears to go into corporate overdrive, draping everything from logos to sandwiches in the rainbow flag.
While it’s important to remember the sobering truth that ‘Pride’ was born out of violent riots and protests for equality, increased awareness and visibility means it’s also the perfect time to address the peculiar issues of each letter in the acronym. In this article we will tackle the B – Bisexual.
The dictionary definition of bisexual (in humans) is “sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women.” This is not to be confused with pansexual or gender fluid. Both are terms that continue to be discussed within the community. To give further context, read on to discover common myths about bisexuality.
Myth: Bisexuals are just confused
Actually no. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are capable of having meaningful relationships with, and sexual and romantic attractions to, both women and men. It is a static representation, not a pitstop on the road to a decision one way or the other.
Myth: Bisexuals are greedy
Let’s look at this logically, shall we? Anyone who has been in any meaningful relationship knows there are both highs and lows and they can be very complicated. It is difficult to fathom that any bisexual person interested in any more than a casual dalliance would choose all that complexity times two. Which brings us to our next myth…
Myth: Bisexuals choose that lifestyle so they can be promiscuous and double the number of their sexual partners
See above… also fun fact: monogamy does not belong exclusively to heterosexual couples. Similarly, people prone to infidelity or who prefer open relationships do so for as many reasons as there are stars in the sky. Not solely because they are bisexual.
Myth: Your designation changes depending on whether you are dating a man or a woman
First that’s pretty disrespectful and engages in what the community refers to as Bi-Erasure. The concept that a bisexual woman “goes back” to being straight when she dates a man but then becomes a lesbian when she’s dating a woman is just laughable. I mean, who has the energy to flip flop like that? It may soothe family and friends who are uncomfortable with someone being gay, for them to date someone of the opposite sex, but that concept has no bearing in the lived realities of bisexual people. The strength or legitimacy of a same sex relationship with a bisexual person does not vanish (or become erased) when that person moves onto dating someone of the opposite sex.
Myth: Bisexuality means you can be straight or gay depending on where and when it is convenient
Ok let’s accept that despite the strides in gay rights and shifts in cultural attitudes, there are still people who are in the closet. Many will choose “beards” (opposite sex companions in social settings) to throw people off the scent. That is the kind of choice many members of the rainbow family have to make depending on how safe it is to be their whole and authentic selves. However, for those who are comfortable with their bisexuality and are fortunate enough to have a supportive social and familial network, there is really no reason for this sort of artifice, smoke and mirrors. It is unsustainable; disingenuous and inevitably hurtful to all involved. Further, and on a broader philosophical level, it is a disrespect of epic proportions to the activists who have literally bled and died so that gay people in the present day can, to some extent, be their authentic selves in public without fear of reprisals. Life as a gay person can be hurtful and complicated enough as it is, without inviting drama and trauma for something as flimsy as convenience.
Myth: you can avoid the discrimination and abuse faced by openly gay people by being bisexual
This one is probably the most ridiculous of all. Any bisexual person can likely give examples of the awkwardness and confusion they face when attempting to carry out official business or get acquainted in a new social setting (one in which attitudes have not evolved and old tropes and stereotypes still hold sway). As a woman who goes by “Mrs”, the assumption is that you have a husband and not a wife. If you are a bisexual man, in a relationship with a woman, that question about high-risk sexual activity asked by your GP will have to be explained regarding anal intercourse with your male exes. A masculine presenting man attracted to other men will inevitably be asked if he’s looking for ‘a woman with a penis’, ‘a tranny’ or some equally vile query. The same goes for a femme presenting bisexual woman seeking to date other women. The assumption will be she wants a butch lesbian in some twisted attempt to get masculine energy but feminine biology.
When all is said and done, we are not required to understand or even agree with the choices made by bisexual people. But what is fundamental is that we must all respect each other, and if not, quite frankly, mind your business.
This article was written by Katrina Marshall.