On bisexuality…

Although I’ve written about coming out as bisexual for BitchBuzz before, it’s not a subject I’ve covered on Rarely Wears Lipstick much so I thought I’d better fix that today. Although you might think it’s a label that you understand if you’re not bi, it’s actually far more complicated than you might think. It took me years to realise that being bisexual is an important part of who I am. It wasn’t just a passing phase, and the fact I didn’t have a relationship with a woman for a very long time didn’t actually mean that I was ‘heteroflexible’ instead – I just hadn’t met the right woman for that level of intimacy to happen. Also, I didn’t actually have to have a relationship with a woman at all to be bi. Just being interested is enough. Finally I admitted it to myself enough to tick a box on an equal opportunities form, and then I started to think further about what that meant.

To most people, I appear to be straight because I am in a long term relationship with a man. If my only relationship was with a woman, many people might assume I’d ‘turned gay’. That’s just when they don’t know the truth right? Not necessarily. Even when you come out, the misunderstanding continues. Some people assume you’re greedy or indecisive. Some people assume that you’re more likely to cheat on your partner, or have to be non-monogamous because you probably can’t control your urges. Some straight people assume that bisexual women simply sleep with women because their boyfriend likes it. Some straight people think that bisexual men are actually gay and haven’t admitted it to themselves yet. Hell, some gay people think that bisexuals are just halfway to admitting a total same sex preference. No, we’re happy the way we are, thank you very much.

OK, so people do sometimes change and labels do have to be re-evaluated, but it’s a shame when others assume they know more about you than you know yourself. Maybe they’re just worried that their own preferences might change at some point and that they won’t be able to handle it? Life’s more fun when people just relax and behave in a way that’s true to themselves. Gay, straight, bi or queer… can’t we stop judging for five minutes and all just be a bit more open minded? We can all have our cake and eat it in our own way.

8 thoughts on “On bisexuality…

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  1. This is something I think about a lot. I have no qualms about ticking the “bisexual” box on an equal opportunities form, but to echo the words of a lesbian friend given that I'm in a monogamous, heterosexual marriage I'm as good as straight to all intents and purposes – right?

    No. Not “right”. Ticking the “bi” box on that form no more means I'm going to cheat on my husband with a woman than ticking the “heterosexual” box means I am going to cheat on my husband with a man.

    It's something that I would love to write about, but I don't know where to start. My identity is an important part of me, but I find myself shying away from debates about orientation and where everybody sits on the spectrum because what do I know? To all intents and purposes, I present to the world as one half of the most “acceptable” setup… well, other than my complete disdain for breeding. Is my insistence that I am bisexual nothing more than shameless bandwagon-jumping?

  2. Thanks for your comment. It is *such* a big subject, isn't it? I totally understand that you don't know where to start. I had trouble with this post to be honest!

    You're so right that it's important to tick the bi box on forms (so that we're not invisible to the world), and you're right to challenge people's assumptions. It's not bandwagon-jumping… the more folk we see who come out, the easier it is to do it yourself.

  3. I'm a guy who is predominantly attracted to women, and over about 15 years I've accepted that I'm also sexually attracted to men. This involves a lot of caveats that aren't really important for employers to know. Does it really matter if I'm into twink guys or bears for me to get on with my job? (for most jobs I think not!)

    I find women more suitable in terms of emotional/relationship compatibility, but men I find just sexually attractive. For this reason
    I don't feel I should consider myself a bisexual, and there are lots of borderline cases where 'heterosexual' just breaks down as a label (cultural, historical and circumstantial).

    What I just said I'm not sure really puts me under hetero and I don't feel 100% about calling myself bi either. Maybe I'm queer (which I understand as 'none of the above'/rejection of the normal categories).

    I don't like when I apply for a job and I *have* to put my sexuality (especially as it involves repeating that overly long description of my sexual preferences, which really is nobody's business nor is it interesting!). I appreciate the value of equal opportunities monitoring and stuff and I think if people say they are bi on forms it will help in the long term in the workplace with representation and monitoring patterns. I would like an option to not disclose. Not all employers do that, and you are considered as not completing an application form which is an automatic rejection if you don't answer every question.

    People identifying as bisexuals have all kinds of issues of discrimination (as I'm sure you will be aware of), the worst experience I had was when I was part of an LGBT society at uni and the president who was trying to help me come to terms with my sexuality (presuming I was homosexual) once said: 'you aren't bi, are you? I *”(£&ing can't stand bisexuals!' That fellow ended up being a sabattical vice president of the student's union, and in all other respects, a very good campaigner for gay equality.

    For me bisexuality seems to be a concrete kind of idea, which is why I would feel disingenuous to identify with it. With the way I'm attracted to women, I find a lot of women beautiful and attractive, but with guys, I'm very specific almost to the extent that there are very few men who I would find sexually attractive. I don't like being in a position where what I find attractive has to fit in with what other people expect of me.

    (sorry for rant type comment)

  4. 'Gay, straight, bi or queer… can't we stop judging for five minutes and all just be a bit more open minded?' – YES YES YES! I have thought about and discussed this topic often with gay and hetro friends and have come to the conclusion that I simply hate labels of any description. now I know that is easy to say and in our society not easy to live by – humans desperatly want to put everything into boxes – but this is how I now try to live my life. My sexuality is fluid as desire is about the person and personality – not the sex of the person I am with.
    I think we all benefit from opening the discussion…. thank you for this post πŸ™‚

  5. This is a great post, and you’re so right about assumptions that people make. It’s as if people have to be categorised in a very binary way sometimes in order for others to feel comfortable.

    It can be somewhat tiring to sometimes be in situations whereby differing ways a person or group of people live their life is subject to the comfort of other people’s understanding.

    Within the LGBT bracket I often feel that the B and T are somewhat decorative items amongst a conglomerate of letters.

    Fluidity of sexuality and whom we love and choose to f*ck shouldn’t be scrutinised to the extent it is.

    I think a greater call for Bi-visibility is needed and I am so pleased to see more people making themselves more visible and it being celebrated more.

    As far as I’m concerned love and attraction are things we cannot control and it shouldn’t be falling under such scrutiny from different groups of people based on ignorance or a lack of understanding.

    The world is a much nicer place with lots of cake and lots of people filled with love instead of hate and prejudice.

  6. I rarely post comments on things but I just had to on this one as it totally seems to describe exactly how I feel! πŸ™‚ I came out as bi quite young – I just always knew I was attracted to women. Admittedly, in a different way to men and this is the bit most people don’t seem to be able to get, I think.

    I’ve always had relationships with men – and never (until now) explored an independent relationship with a woman but this was through circumstance rather than explicit choice.

    Bi people get a lot of stick…we’re greedy, “haven’t made our mind up” and a bunch of other similar things. I totally agree it’d be nice for the world to stop judging just for long enough to realise we all should be allowed to like who we like πŸ™‚ Great post! x

  7. Thanks for all your wonderful comments. It’s great to know I’m not alone, and that there are many others out there educating people, myth busting and raising our visibility.

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