Observations on being bisexual

In this day and age only a steadily diminishing minority would even think to suggest that being gay or lesbian is a choice. For bisexuals the notion of choice sadly persists in the public consciousness. When a young person comes out as bisexual, they can expect to have their sexual identity dismissed as an experimental phase. A sitcom cliché has a straight-laced woman revealing that she had a lesbian fling with her college roommate. The joke is supposed to be that this reveals her to have had a wild and crazy youth. Consider the fact that the joke works just as well if the woman is revealed to have been a punk rocker.

Perhaps the most surprising difficulty bisexuals face is that they are at times made to feel unwelcome in the LGBTQ* community. Even with marriage equality becoming a reality, same-sex couples face greater challenges than straight couples. The less than subtle suggestion from some in the LGBTQ* community is that bisexuals who, knowing this, chose a same-sex relationship, only have themselves to blame when they are persecuted. Anyone who thinks that you truly have a choice in the matter has surely never fallen in love themselves.

The image of a bisexual most people seem to have is that of a wanton libertine: the kind of person who wants to have their cake and eat it. If you have chosen to live openly as a bisexual then, people assume, you are trying to defy social convention. Having icons like David Bowie as figure heads has been a double edged sword for bisexuals. At its very worst, the libertine stereotype has created an association between bisexuality and polygamy. The belief of many is that bisexuals will be compelled to sate their desire for both sexes and will therefore be incapable of being in a committed relationship. There is no more logic in this than in suggesting the same about a person who likes both blondes and redheads.

Another frustration many have to deal with is explaining to people that dating someone of the opposite sex does not stop you being bisexual. Being in a relationship does not change the nature of your desires, whatever they may be. Biology does not care what your relationship status is and anyone in a relationship, regardless of their sexual identity, will retain their previous desires. That is something all couples have to deal with.

This article has been largely focused on the negatives but there are, it has to be said, times when it is good to be bisexual. When you are single, you have access to the largest possible dating pool. When you pay to see a movie full of sexy Hollywood celebrities, you get double your money’s worth. When your opposite sex partner confesses to checking out the hot waiter, you get to lighten the mood by reassuring them that you are guilty of the same thing.

At the end of the day, like any sexual identity, bisexuality is what it is.

Michael Everritt 

Image: HeardInLondon/Demotix/Corbis 

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