Am I greedy or is it “just a phase”? - The Bisexual Experience
There is nothing quite like swiping through Tinder and every girl in a straight-passing relationship greets you with a selfie of her and her boyfriend as they are seeking to “spice things up” and “add a third, but only for a night” to their coupling. Clearly, as someone who is capable of attraction to more than one gender, I must be willing to jump into bed with anyone (or any-two’s) at any given moment! After all, why else would a girl (let’s not get into the whole gender identity discussion, we will leave that for another article) be seeking for other girls on a dating app?
As soon as one openly identifies as bisexual, it opens a pandora’s box of idiosyncratic, intimate, and invasive questions that no straight person would ever dare to ask another. These can range from being asked to give your personal dating history, including previous partner’s genders, to an estimation of your attraction to your own and other genders on the Kinsey Scale, which, by the way, the inquirer most likely has never even heard of. This struggle to legitimize bisexuality, or sometimes even defend its mere existence, is referred to as bisexual erasure. Bi-erasure can take many forms, as it often aims to expunge bisexuality by refuting, altering, or outright ignoring any evidence thereof both in the past and present. Unfortunately, this tendency to overlook the B in LGBTQ+ is not limited to people outside of the queer community. Despite roughly 50% of those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community identify as bisexual, as a bisexual individual you are on a constant quest to prove that you are in fact bi – as you are either perceived as too gay or not gay enough. If you are a bisexual girl in a committed straight-passing relationship, then you are simply an ally to the queer community and no longer bisexual. If you are a bisexual guy in a committed same-sex relationship, you are just homosexual, and coming out as “bi” is just a quick layover before your “actual” coming out that you currently lack the courage for. Or, as those desperate to make things outside of their realm understandable like to call it: you are confused.
It is as if people are unable to comprehend that bisexuality is a valid identity of its own and not simply someone being ‘half gay, half straight’. Such a constant fight to be recognized for your identity does not pass by without any impact. In fact, studies have shown that those who identify as bi suffer from “significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety, domestic violence, sexual assault and poverty than lesbians, gay men or straight cisgender people”.
In particular, female and female passing bisexuals are oftentimes the center of unwanted over-sexualization. The word bisexual appears to have become a synonym for polyamorous, as there is an endless line of straight men and their girlfriends desperate to save the relationship asking whether you are interested in a threesome. As subtly hinted at in the introduction, there is an endless parade of straight (passing) couples that seek out bisexual women without the slightest regard for the objectification of these individuals who are apparently nothing short of a sex toy with a pulse. A person’s sexuality does not exist for the pleasure of anyone else but them and their consenting partner(s). Unfortunately, to most of the mainstream straight world, you being bi means that you jump from one bed to another as the hypersexual maniac you are and could never be committed to just one person. Why else would you be capable of attraction to more than one gender?
Whereas the LGBTQ+ community can be a safe haven for homosexuals, bisexuals have continuously been used as a scapegoat both by the queer community and heterosexuals alike. Even if the community is safer and more inclusive for bisexuals, especially when in same-sex relationships, we will never receive the same level of unencumbered support and acceptance that the homosexual identifying persons receive.
During the height of the HIV epidemic in the 90s, bi men were blamed for spreading the virus to the heterosexual population. The media perpetuated the idea that AIDS would be contracted from a bi man having intercourse with a gay man, who had the highest HIV contraction rates. They would then turn around to sleep with and spread the virus to straight women, who would not come in contact with it otherwise. Such amplification of an already harmful stereotype impacts bisexuals to this day, as we are still seen as sex-crazed liars unable to control any and all desires.
Though I have never been accused of spreading HIV, with the rise of woke culture and the entrance of pansexuality in the public consciousness, bisexuals like myself are now facing accusations of transphobia, most often from within the queer community.
Pansexuality - per definition - disregards the gender of possible romantic or sexual partners, which bisexuality does not. This has led to the creation of a fallacy by which bisexuals must all be abiding by the gender binary and consequently disregard anyone who does not identify as a man or woman. This is due to the common misconception that the “bi” in bisexuals refers to the “two” genders, when in fact, it simply encompasses the attraction to more than one gender. That is not to say that all pan-identifying people are to blame for bi-erasure, however. The fluidity not just of sexuality but also especially between these two labels has given rise to the notion that bisexuality is simply not as progressive. This is only amplified by the novelty of pansexuality, as barely a decade ago, when I first came out, the only way to express that I was capable of having attraction to multiple genders was bisexuality. Unfortunately, those misinformed will blindly accuse bisexuals of committing hate crimes against their fellow LGBTQ+ community members, without knowing that 25% of trans people, which can include non-binary persons, themselves identify as bisexual. In the same breath, there is no consideration for those who experience comparatively more attraction to one gender, as pansexuality does not factor gender into the equation. Bisexuality provides for an adequate label, as even if you experience 5% attraction to one gender and 95% to another, you are capable of being attracted to more than one gender.
Dear Reader, especially if you are bi, please know that you are valid and do not owe anybody shit. It doesn’t matter if you have only been with one gender, it doesn’t matter who you ultimately end up with, it doesn’t matter if you never even had any attractions or partners to begin with, you get to define your labels. Sexuality is fluid. You get to switch and readjust and switch and readjust again and be valid in whatever label you currently feel most comfortable in without having to give a grand tour of your graveyard of previous relationships and sexual encounters.
Oh, and if you and your partner are looking for a third… you know who to call.