On Monday I talked about the transgender community. Today, I want to talk about the B in LGBT – the bisexuals. Like the transgender, the bisexuals are treated poorly by both the straight and the LG community. To our detractors, it's just a “phase”. We don't know what we're talking about. We're just confused.
You notice I used the word 'we'. That's because I'm bisexual. My husband is also bi. This doesn't mean we're unfaithful to each other. We have a very strong monogamous relationship. It also doesn't mean we're more likely to cheat. We've been together for fifteen years, married for thirteen, and this has never been an issue. What we are is attracted to the opposite gender as well as the same gender. We can both appreciate the appeal of both men and women, and neither of us is shy about admitting that we find someone attractive even if they're the same gender we are.
In my life, I've had both a girlfriend and a few boyfriends. I didn't know what being bi meant until I was in my early 20's. I grew up Mormon so even the idea of being gay/lesbian wasn't really brought up. The only reason I knew people of the same gender could love each other was through Mercedes Lackey and the Valdemar books. Lackey has a number of same sex pairings in her books, even going so far as to have a trilogy where the main character is gay. (Seriously, go read the Vanyel books. They're awesome.)
But nothing could have prepared me for my attraction to a woman. I had a few guys I'd been attracted to. I dated a bit. Mormon rules on dating being what they were, I didn't get out much. But I knew the reaction of attraction. Then I met my future girlfriend and everything changed. I couldn't understand it. I wanted to be with her, but everything I knew – as limited as that was – told me it wasn't normal.
I ended up with her for about a year. I was excommunicated from the LDS church. I pretty much left home before I could get kicked out. My mom was really pissed off. I think she would have kicked me out if I'd stayed. My older sister arranged housing for me and my girlfriend. Ultimately we went our separate ways, but I continued to be attracted to both men and women.
Let's talk about some stereotypes that actually hurt the bisexual community. The first one is that bisexuals are overly promiscuous. Just because we have a broader pool of possible romantic liaisons doesn't mean we're after sex all the time. Another part of this stereotype is that we're going to sleep with whoever comes along and/or cheat on our partners. This is also untrue. There are some polyamorous bi people out there, and there are definitely some bi who do like having several partners. But they aren't in the majority of the community.
The second stereotype I'd like to bring up is that bisexual women only do it to turn straight guys on. Or bisexual men do it only to turn on straight women. Yes, there are a few people out there who do that. But honestly, we don't date our own gender to turn someone else on. We do it because we're genuinely attracted to them.
The third stereotype is the fact that we're indecisive or confused. The only thing we're confused about is how people can treat us so poorly in both the gay and the straight communities. We know who we are attracted to, and it doesn't matter to us if they're male or female. We love who we love, and we deserve the same consideration as everyone else in this fact.
The fourth is that bisexuality is a cop-out or a phase. Coming out as bisexual is saying that you're open to relationships with either gender. You're not going to turn people down based on their gender. But it's often seen as the “gateway to being gay/lesbian”. Which in some cases it might be. But to say that for all bisexuals is demeaning and insulting.
The fifth is that nobody is bisexual. This is an example of bi-erasure. People are trying to prove that we don't exist. We do exist, and there are reports proving this. In 2011, San Francisco's Human Rights Commission released a report on bisexual visibility that showed, among other things, that self-identified bisexuals made up the largest single population in the LGBT community in the United States. Now, whether that's true now or not I don't know. But I do know that we do exist and we exist in a large number.
The sixth is that bisexuals can never be happy in a monogamous relationship. Well, I'm proof that we can. My husband and I are perfectly happy with our lives together. Neither of us feels the need to go out and find another partner. Just because a bisexual person is attracted to and partnered with a single person, does not mean that their attraction for the opposite gender is any less real. But it also doesn't mean that someone that's bisexual is going to go out and have multiple partners.
My friend is also bi. She told me of an experience that she had. She went to her local PFLAG and was told by a lesbian speaker that her being bisexual was a phase and when she got older it would pass. My friend figured that the reason the speaker made the comment about it passing when she got older was because of the fact that my friend looks younger than her actual age. She's the same age as me and has identified as bi since she was a teenager.
Being bisexual isn't a phase. It's not a choice. It's not something we do to gain attention or to turn other people on. We are who we are, and we will continue to be who we are. Eventually I hope that we'll get the same considerations as the rest of the LGBT community, and be treated with more respect by both sides of the spectrum.