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It’s hard to talk about bisexuality without making it sound like a sob story. I promise it’s not my aim; I always wish to engage in open and constructive conversations about sexuality so I hope you keep that in mind when reading these lines.
Before going on my usual rant, I do want to make sure it’s understood that there are degrees of discrimination and violence. Unquestionably, the Lesbian, Gay and Trans community have suffered centuries of oppression for not having the privilege of ‘another option’. Facing physical, psychological, institutional and even economic oppression for the sole fact of being who they are, has hurt the community and individual people in unimaginable ways. So, I want to clarify that this is in no way whatsoever an underestimation of that history. Of course we, the bis, are lucky that sometimes we can enjoy a degree of freedom-from-oppression when we pass as hetero while walking in the streets holding hands with a person of the opposite sex.
Having said that, I myself enjoy that privilege as I currently have a cis-hetero-guy as a primary partner. Then, you might already be thinking that it’s hypocritical of me to be writing these words. You might be saying to yourself ‘meh, I don’t really need this opinion’. Honestly pal, I’d have to agree with you on that, I too think that about my own opinions. I would’ve given up on myself anyway were it not for the fact that there’s quite a few other people like me who are trying to exist in their contradicting and conflicting selves. As I know I am not alone in this, I think it might be worth sharing these thoughts anyway. I dare not to speak on anyone’s behalf, though. Ever. Especially not on people’s personal experiences & sexualities (!). But I do know a large number of bisexual huns and there seems to be a general consensus on how we feel about our existence.
Then, what does it mean to be bi?
Us, the bis, are a rare breed aren’t we? We know there are a LOT of us, like, a lot. But, despite composing a large percentage of the planet’s population (some say more than the L and G), I can’t help but think most people truly aren’t remotely aware that we exist. Or perhaps they aren’t interested in recognising that we do.
But we are here (hello?), and we’re trying to be very loud and to demystify some preconceived ideas of who we are or aren’t.
In essence, we are people who are attracted to other… people. And those people can be of our own gender and/or any other genders. It usually does not matter to us. What does, is just the connection with that person. Of course, this can vary from person to person. In my case it’s the brains, the heart and the humor. If you possess the aforementioned, then we’re good to go.
So, why would this represent a problem or issue to anyone?
What are the main issues we face as a community?
I’d like to talk about the issues that bisexual people have to face – which I do not believe necessarily makes it a competition of suffering. We must always recognise our advantages but still; nothing makes it OK to ridicule, to invisibilise, to negate, to question, to ask for a loyalty card, or to object to our identities.
What I think can sum up our main ‘issue’ is that it feels like, more often than not, our sexuality is being contested by every and all communities, and we simply don’t feel welcome in most spaces. But why is that?
- It is a phase / we are confused / why can’t we decide?
We’ve literally all heard the “it’s just a phase” that we’ll eventually *have* to overcome and to decide which label (only hetero or gay) we are.
I mean, it could be a phase insofar as you’re in one moment attracted to one person and in a different moment to another person. But sometimes you can be attracted to more than one person at the same time, or is it just me?
Essentially, the problem is that we’re never good enough. We’re never straight enough, never gay enough, never bi enough. We’re neither or. It’s a sexual limbo where we’re either denied the entry to the gay club or used for sexual entertainment to the heteros.
Of course, there are people who are not sure about their sexuality and are still navigating and discovering who they are. Surely, that can be applied to any person in or out the LGBTQ+ community, right? Also, that cannot be enough of an excuse to mistreat and doubt the people who are indeed sure and express it.
- It is a performance / it feeds into heteros fetishes
This one in particular enrages me. I’ve been told by several people that I only fancy and date women to satisfy the fantasies of men. WHAT? Honestly, heteros: wouldn’t it be a bit relieving to not think EVERYTHING is for you? It must be exhausting to think that even our own desires are to please you.
It really makes my blood boil because it strips me of all agency over my own sexuality and personal desires and I want ownership of who I am thank you very much.
- It is binary / We like cis men and cis women only
Being bisexual might sound like a BInary system but it is a whole spectrum where an infinite range of sexualities is possible. Us, the cis bis, fancy people of any gender. But more importantly, there’s an assumption that only cis people are bi, AS IF! Trans women are bi, trans men are bi, non-binary people are bi. Get over it.
Gender, sexuality, and even biology aren’t a binary (though the last one is for another article). There’s infinite scope and nuance when it comes to sexuality, so why on earth would we reduce it to a binary? As either hetero or gay. As cis or trans. I mean, LGBTQ+ labels are hugely important in our world today as we need the visibility of historically oppressed identities. But I wish for a future where this is not necessary and we can just be people who fck (and love, yeah) other people. I know this might sound incredibly naive but the fight I want to fight is for the freedom from violence and subjugation of all marginalised people; and when (not if) that happens, I hope we won’t need to fit into any boxes or justify ourselves to anyone.
- It is a 50/50 split
Why is it hard to understand that we fancy, like, or desire anyone and everyone? It is not necessarily in an orderly fashion, not particularly in an even percentage, it just happens spontaneously.
Sometimes you’re more into some people, sometimes into others. It just happens to be whoever you think is fit and/or cool and you just go ‘yeah, I think I’ve got a crush on this babe’. It isn’t a zero sum game whereby if you like x amount of people of a certain gender, you’re maxed out on the fancying percentage and then you are out, you can’t fancy any more than that.
It is also commonly thought that you like more of one gender than others. I mean, I can’t stress this enough: it depends on each person. You can’t apply the experience of one bisexual person to all of the others, it’ll always change from person to person and from time to time.
That’s why it’s WAY easier to understand that we’re not a little bit hetero or a little bit gay or 30% this and 70% that. We are just 100% bisexual. Period.
- Men aren’t bisexual
I think the sentiment of isolation and feeling ostracised is shared by bi men too. But, as it’s not my place, I will use the beautiful words of Argentinian activist Oliver Nash:
“I was slow to come out of the closet as bisexual because I didn’t even have the words. Sometimes the invisibility is so big that we don’t even know how to name what happens to us. When I was getting closer to what I felt, someone would always come up and tell me that it didn’t exist, that [bisexuals] were confused people, that I had to “choose a side.” So even though it sounds ridiculous, for several years I fooled myself and decided to choose a side as they said I should do. As if that could be done, I “decided” that I was only going to like one gender. And here I am; Of course that did not work, no one can choose their sexual orientation or what genders they are attracted to.
When I started to do more research I noticed that almost all the bisexual people I knew were female and some were non-binary. To this day, I find it difficult to find other bisexual men, and I really understand why they are hidden or do not talk so much. Being a bisexual man is not easy. Wherever you look there is rejection and it is difficult to enter a relationship. Many straight women reject you because they think you are too “gay” and gay men see you as “straight” or “not gay”. Everyone thinks “we are confused” and we are going to “leave them for the opposite gender”. As if heterosexual, gay or lesbian people never cheated before.”
I must say I felt every single word very close to my heart. [ read the whole article in Spanish https://redbiargentina.org/estaba-confundido/ ]
- Women have to show their lesbian club card
This is, unequivocally, a familiar experience to most -if not all- bisexual women I know.
“Have you ever been with a woman before”
“Oh but you don’t look gay”
“Was your last partner a guy or a girl?”
“Who did you date more?”
“So you are a lesbian? How many girls did you sleep with?????”
“You have a male partner, you can’t be attracted to women!”
“Why do you come to Pride?”
I’m sorry folks but does anyone else get asked to show their sexual records and their bedroom history?
- We hurt people in the community / We are gender traitors / We’ll run away with men
The fact that many bi women have hurt lesbians SUCKS and obviously should not happen.
What I would like to say though, is that sometimes the fact that we did or still fancy, date, or love cis men has absolutely nothing to do with how the relationship with a woman ends. Sometimes it doesn’t work just cos…it doesn’t. It might not be the right time, or place or moment in life or not enough vibes. Sometimes it is literally no one’s ‘fault’. I guess what I’m trying to say is that blaming bisexuality for the flaws of any ‘unsuccessful’ relationship is a bit of a stretch.
There’s toxic people in all the LGBTQI+ spectrum and obviously don’t even get me started with the toxicity of heteronormative relationships.
As a poly, I have tried dating women while in a relationship with a man. I can obviously understand why some wouldn’t find it cool, as men are universally trash. But even before I was betraying my own gender by sleeping with the enemy, the lesbian dating world was not always friendly to the openly bis.
I mean, of course it’s fine if you don’t want to date bi babes but why does the rejection entail a whole list of judgments that will inevitably result in the questioning of our own existence? I swear just an ‘I’m not interested hun’ would be fine.
You don’t have to like us, just don’t hate us. It would be nice if you do like us a little – no pressure – but if not, then please don’t project bad personal experiences on to an entire people’s identity.
- We don’t suffer homophobia / We have it easier
The first anecdote that comes to my mind as a rebuttal example: when I was going out with a girl, every time we went out to a ‘hetero’ night club and would make out, there would be a circle of laughing, staring, monkey-like-screaming and clapping men around us.
Nevertheless, it is absolutely true that I didn’t ‘have to’ come out to my family because I mainly had heterosexual long-term (though incredibly toxic and unhappy) relationships.
However, the fact that I never mentioned a casual girl in my life was because… who likes to discuss their fuckbuddies with their granddads and aunties (!?). It was assumed that I was hetero because, yes, I introduced the boys to the fam. But is anyone else (gay or hetero) talking about or introducing who they casually sleep with to their relatives?
I do also want to say that, a big reason why I never had a relationship with a girl in my teens was because of (drumroll) biphobia and bi erasure. I am from a town and an age 🙁 where it wasn’t common to see girls dating boys AND girls. I genuinely thought I was confused and that it happened to everyone and they all overcame it. But that’s what everyone thinks being bi is, a confusion, a phase, so it got into my head, I thought it’d pass so I didn’t act on it when I was young – which I am deeply sorry for and wish I could turn back time and have an amazing teenage relationship with a heartthrob gurl.
How can we all get along?
There’s much more to say about the ways in which we are treated in society but I think there should be more room to talk about how we can improve this.
Firstly, and most importantly, our sexuality is for us to define.
Nothing else defines us. Not our track records. Not our current relationship status. Not you. Us and us only.
It is also up to us to be nice and respectful to others. But if that isn’t the case, then it is more about the character of that person rather than their sexual orientation.
We’re also all having to figure out how to exist and be good to others in this world. I wish for the community – and people in general – to be a bit more understanding and a bit more flexible to the ideas of sexuality and belonging.
Don’t make assumptions; don’t make judgments; don’t get angry about who we are (yes, it literally happens); don’t tell us who we are or aren’t; please, whatever you do, do not think you know our sexualities better than we know ourselves.
What you can do is listen, ask questions respectfully, choose not to date us cos you ain’t interested (sadly yes), challenge our privileges and make us accountable for any wrongdoing.
I guess my ultimate wish is for bi people to not feel excluded, alone, or left out like myself and many pals have done in their lives. It can be absolutely draining having to explain and justify yourself all the time when in fact, being bi is freeing, it’s infinite and it’s beautiful to be as open and carefree as you want in who you are attracted to.
My truest wish is that y’all let the bi youth of today live and experience their sexuality happily, freely, respectfully, safely and without judgment.
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For more resources as to how to be an ally: