What Is Bisexuality
Bisexuality is a sexual orientation. While, of course, this means that every individual has a personal definition of what exactly this term means to them, it is generally an umbrella term describing the attraction to two or more genders. This, in turn, means that it doesn’t reinforce the binary of men and women and doesn’t discriminate against trans, nonbinary, and gender fluid people, instead it follows a very fluid approach to gender. In fact, the term has never followed these notions, as the term historically stood for an attraction to “same and different” meaning to people of your own gender(s) and to people of different gender(s). The attraction to these genders (same and different) also doesn’t have to be a 50/50 split, this is a very personal experience for each person in the bi+ community. For instance, the bisexual activist Robyn Ochs said:
The Rice University conducted a study which found that people who identify as bisexual report worse mental health conditions than those who do not identify as bisexual. Around 20% reported their mental health to be poor/fair. The researches stated that these findings have to do with the amount of discrimination bisexual people face. Researchers have also found that bisexuality is often linked with higher levels of anxiety due to this. The scholars Anne E. Tweedy and Karen M. Yescavage found that 58% of bisexuals have had to endure biphobic jokes at work and 31% had been sexually harassed due to their sexual orientation. This is because bisexuality challenges the very static beliefs of what sexual orientation is and what it should be.
Biphobia is often the result of not understanding, being miseducated, or ignorant towards the orientation. This discrimintion predominantly stems from the heteronormative community, but within the LGBTQI+ community bisexuals can also face discrimination. 82.1% have been told that they are hetreosexual and that its just a phase, while 66% have been told that they are homosexual and just confused. “Bisexual? That’s just a phase” is a discriminatory statement 32.5% of bisexuals have heard. Around a third of bisexuals have also had to endure discriminations in which they are hypersexualized through phrases such as “you are only interested in sex anyways” “you cannot be monogamous” etc. 8.1% have also heard that they are not “queer enough.” This shows, that bisexual people are often misundersood and not taken seriously, leading to feelings of lonliness and oftentimes also to anxiety. Studies have also found that the amount of people that come out as bi+ has risen. YouGov found that in the UK almost 50% of the 18 to 24 year olds identify as bi+. Yet, a lot of people still do not come out due to the discrimination. So be mindful of what you say and reflect on your biphobia. To all the bi+ people who are not out yet: take whatever time you need, because either way there is a community that supports you!
Some Common Misconceptions/ Biphobic Myths Debunked
Let’s talk about some of the common misconceptions around bisexuality and debunk them:
1) Bi+ people are NOT more likely to cheat
This statement results from the biphobic notions that bisexuals are confused about their orientation and can, therefore, not commit to anyone.
Another statement we often hear is that people are afraid to date someone bi+ because their ‘potential dating pool is doubled.’ This is untrue because bi+ people are also just attracted to very specific people (their gender is just not a factor).
Also: cheating has nothing to do with attraction, but everything to do with ethics.
We are not a homogenous group and the reason we are bi+ definitely has nothing to do with us wanting to have more sex than anyone else. The lust of each person is very individual and also has nothing to do with sexual orientation. The American Institute of Bisexuality sums it up nicely by saying: “Just because you have the capacity for attraction to more than one gender does not mean that your sexual appetite is ravenous. Bisexual people are a diverse group with many different preferred relationship models.”
This also means while some bisexuals, just like in every other sexual orientation, are interested in having a threesome, not everyone automatically is.
3) Bisexuality is NOT just a phase and bi+ people do NOT have to choose
Bi+ people are not confused. Being attracted to more than one gender is totally valid and not a phase. Many bi+ people may have a preferred gender they are attracted to, and it does not make them any less bi+. Having a partner of the same gender, or a different one also doesn’t make anyone who identifies as bi+ any less bi+.
Bi+ women are not all actually straight and bi+ men are not all actually gay. While sexual orientations can also change and be fluid these stereotypes assume that bisexuality is just a stepping stone. It isn’t.
Bi+ And Proud
If you have said or heard these biphobic misconceptions before and are not bi+ please remember to educate yourself and be an ally to those who face the discrimination. This week is Bisexual Awareness Week, which celebrates the orientation! So, if you are bi+ remember you are not alone. We are all in this together! Our sexuality is not a phase, it is not a fetish, it is real. We are here! We are queer! We are proud! Happy Bisexual Awareness Week!