So, there appears to be a few misapprehensions about what bisexuality is, so let's get that one sorted straight away with our Sexpression KCL member Nick Batley explaining the subject:

What *is* bisexuality?

I would define bisexuality as "sexual attraction to more than one gender or sex". There are many definitions floating around, some very narrow, some very broad, but that is the definition I prefer to go with.

But WAIT, I hear you ask, straw person, isn't that the same thing as 'pansexuality'? Well, yes indeed,  it is very similar, and if we were to use the strictest possible definitions, 'pan-' means all, whereas 'bi-' means two. However, the latter presumes that gender and sex are always binary (only man/woman or male/female), and as we know, that isn't true. However, some people who experience attraction regardless of gender or sex still describe themselves as bisexual. Why? Well, that's a talk for another time, but I'll leave this section by quoting the great Laci Green with "we define labels; labels don't define us". It's up to you to find a label or identity you're comfortable with. If you feel constrained by them, don't use them!

But, wait, aren't bisexuals...? (Ah yes, the misconceptions and stereotypes. Don't worry, we've heard them all, so go on...)

...confused? Nope. This one generally comes from people who think sexual orientation is binary; an 'either or' thing, that you can only be attracted to either men or women, which isn't true.

...greedy? Bisexuals aren't 'stealing all the sex', so that there's none left over for anyone else. You wouldn't describe someone as 'greedy' if they liked more than one kind of food, so why is it so for sexuality?

...equally attracted to both sexes? You do not have to be equally attracted to men and women to identify as bisexual, far from it; many bisexuals are more attracted to one than the other, and then of course, there's the multitude of gender identities outside of 'man' or 'woman'. This misconception again assumes that gender is binary, and it ain't!

...just going through a phase? *grooooooooooooan* So this is probably the most common biphobic response to someone saying they are 'bisexual', along with their cousins 'you'll grow out of it', or 'you're just experimenting'. This kind of response absolutely de-legitimises someone's identity, and can be incredibly hurtful. The idea is that if you establish a long-term relationship with someone, you have finally 'chosen' your sexuality, and you are no longer bisexual, and that is simply not true. Yes, sexuality can be something that evolves through life, and someone who identifies as bisexual in their 20s, may not do so in their 30s; this does not mean their bisexual feelings were not legitimate or real.

 

SO, that's the 101 on bisexuality. There are dozens of resources around if you would like to know more, but the takeaway should be that:

  • Bisexuality is the sexual attraction to more than one gender or sex
  • It's just a label; you can use whatever label you like to describe your sexuality
  • Bisexuals aren't faking it; we're real, everybody!

 

PS. A fantastic resource is 'The Bisexual Index', which has sextions on coming out, and the bisexual community.

 

More information:

Terrence Higgins Trust

Stonewall UK

LGBT Youth Scotland

Challenging Biphobia