What is bisexuality?
Bisexuality means sexual or romantic attraction or behavior directed towards some members of more than one sex.
What is a “bisexual”?
A strict definition of a bisexual would be someone who has romantic and/or sexual relations with other people of more than one sex (though not necessarily at the same time – see section A8).
However, since not everyone has necessarily had the opportunity to act on their sexual/romantic attractions, some people prefer a looser definition; for instance, that a bisexual is a person who – in their own estimation – feels POTENTIALLY able to have such attraction. This could be anyone who has erotic,affectionate, or romantic feelings for, fantasies of, and/or experiences with both men and women.
A bisexual may be more attracted to one sex than the other, attracted equally to both, or find people’s sex unimportant (see section A7). The strength of their attractions to men and women may vary over time.
So if I’ve never slept with a MOTSS/MOTOS*, but I feel attracted to one, am I bisexual?
*MOTSS – Member Of The Same Sex
*MOTOS – Member Of The Opposite Sex
Can you be? Sure. Are you? That’s up to you to decide; nobody can make that decision for you, and nobody has the right to tell you your decision is wrong. Bisexuality isn’t about WHOM you sleep with, it’s about HOW you feel; so a good rule of thumb in defining your sexual identity is not what you’ve done, but what you’d like to do.
Aren’t bisexuals just going through a phase of being confused about their sexuality?
The simple answer is “no” or at least “not necessarily” – many of us are absolutely certain that we are attracted to both sexes; there is no confusion.Many people are bisexual for life, which proves it is not always just a phase.
It is natural for people who are coming to terms with a sexuality which is not society’s norm to be feel confused. For some people, bisexuality is a phase between homosexuality and heterosexuality (and the individual in question could be going in either direction); for others it can just be a brief experimentation. But for many people bisexuality is a lifelong, committed sexual orientation.
And even for those who ultimately do not stay bisexual for life, that does not make it any the less valid as a sexual orientation. Many people have reported that their sexual orientation has shifted over time; sexuality is dynamic, not fixed. For some people it may be a small shift, others a major change of lifestyle; but this does not make the points in between in any sense “wrong”. Life is a continuous process, and few of us remain exactly the same over long periods of time.
Some people who behave bisexually (having sex with both MOTSS and MOTOS over time) identify themselves as gay or lesbian or straight. This too does not mean that they are confused, only that they base their sexual identity on their primary interest rather than going for the more technical term bisexual.
Aren’t bisexuals really denying their homosexuality?
It’s difficult for some lesbian/gay people to come to grips with their homosexuality, and for a while, dating MOTOS (see section B12) may make life seem a little more “normal” and bearable.But coming out bisexual is no easy matter, either.
Some bisexuals have to face loved ones who have relied in the past on their attraction to them being constant, and who have to assure them that it will be there in the future. We also often have to deal with straight friends who assure us that our attraction is just “a way of avoiding intimacy” or gay friends who suggest that our attraction to MOTOS is “internalized homophobia”.At all events, whether or not a bisexual is currently involved with a MOTSS to much of the straight world anyone who comes out as bi is queer, “one of them,” and is discriminated against and excluded on that basis.
Thus, being bi is not an “easy way out,” a “denial,” or a “middle ground.”
Are bisexuals equally attracted to both sexes?
Many bisexuals feel they have a “preference” for one sex over the other, but they do not deny their attraction for that other sex.
Some bisexuals, however, have no such preference, and instead focus their attractions on qualities they see in an individual regardless of that person’s sex. Sometimes these qualities involve gender, sometimes not.
Do bisexuals have to have lovers of both sexes to be bisexual?
No. People who call themselves bisexual are saying that they are attracted to both men and women. They don’t necessarily have to act on that attraction, any more than straight or gay people have to act on their attraction to people of the same sex as their partner.
Are bisexuals capable of monogamy?
Yes, some are. It depends on the individual. It’s like asking “Can a straight person be monogamous?” Some bisexuals are monogamous, and some aren’t. Monogamy is the socially sanctioned option with respect to relationships, but then so is heterosexuality. It should be up to every individual, of any sexuality, to choose the lifestyle which is right for them.
But if they’re monogamous, how can they be bisexual?
A bisexual deciding to be monogamous is not deciding to be “gay” or “straight.” He/she is still bisexual; he/she has chosen a PERSON to live his or her life with, not an orientation, preference or ideology. It is important to recognize that he/she still FEELS bisexual.
Isn’t everyone really bisexual?
Not by any useful definition. A useful definition of bisexuality might be,anyone who has serious relationships with members of both sexes, and anyone who identifies as bisexual. It is possible to suggest that everyone has some potential for attraction to both sexes, but since most people(*) never act on it, this is pretty irrelevant.
If someone says that they are straight, or (gay/lesbian) then for you to insist that they are “really” bisexual but perhaps just don’t realize it is to deny them their self-identity. Everyone should be free to define their own identity for themselves, which invalidates this kind of generalization.
Moreover, bisexuality is not BETTER than being straight or gay. The best thing for each individual is to be what they feel is right. So please do not think that people identify as bisexual if they are “more highly evolved” or more in touch with their inner feelings. Accept diversity – different people really are different.
(*) Research carried out at the Harvard School of Public Health, USA in 1994 found that 20.8% of the men and 17.8% of the women studied admitted to same-sex sexual attraction/behavior at some time in their lives.
Why do you think bi issues are different from gay issues, since all your problems come from the same source, homophobia?
While homophobia is a bi issue (many would say the biggest issue), we do also have concerns different from those of the gay community; the most striking being that of dealing with prejudice from the gay community itself!
Among our other issues is the problem of dealing with the emotion of SOs who we deeply love yet who cannot understand our attraction to both sexes. And being accepted as bisexual if we only have one partner. And we have to deal with a lot of myths which surround bisexuality.
Why would lesbians/gay men discriminate against bisexuals?
One reason is because we are sometimes perceived as “hiding,” a sense that some bisexuals use their bisexuality to look heterosexual at work, in straight social settings, to enjoy the “heterosexual privilege” that is part of the social norm. Secondly, bisexuals are sometimes seen as blurring the issues and weakening the lesbian and gay movement. Naturally, bisexual activists disagree with this view (we feel that the real issue is sexual freedom for all sexualities), but sometimes lesbians and gays label bisexuals “traitors” for this reason. A further reason is that some lesbians and gay men also have sex with MOTOS (while not identifying as bisexual). Often peer pressure means that they can’t admit this in the lesbian and gay communities,and see bisexuality as a threat to their own acceptance. And finally, simply because of the fear that arises out of ignorance and out of the media’s very poor record of portraying bisexuals as serial killers, homophobes and generally self-centered, confused people.
The lesbian and gay communities are oppressed by homophobia and prejudice, but unfortunately being oppressed is no guarantee that you won’t oppress others. Happily, prejudice against bisexuals in the lesbian and gay communities seems to be diminishing over time as more people come to accept that sexuality is not a monochrome issue.
Why CAN’T you choose one sex over the other?
Some of us have tried, but why should we? Denying our attraction to one sex or the other HURTS. If you ask the question out of innocence (you don’t feel this attraction, so why should anybody?) then you’re asking us to put away feelings that we cannot and will not live without. If you ask these questions with full knowledge of the issues at hand, then your question is as patently offensive as a white supremacist asking us to choose one race over another.
I’ve discovered that I’m bisexual – should I tell my family?
Look at your life, and decide that if by telling them you will help yourself,and by not telling them you won’t hurt yourself (one doesn’t necessarily preclude the other). Both instances, of telling or not telling, can be problems. They may not accept you, then again, maybe they will. Not telling them may leave you at peace, or it may gnaw at your mind constantly, with “I really need to tell them” or “I really need to tell SOMEONE who knows me well.”
There are many people in the bisexual community who can tell you of good and bad situations that have happened to us with each different type of decision. Indeed, these “coming-out stories” (so called because they describe “coming out of the closet” and telling people of our sexuality) are often to be heard whenever bisexuals meet – it is something that brings us together, because so many of us have one of these stories to tell.
But, ultimately, the decision is yours, and must be made by you. We can offer support for your courage, and comfort for your loss, happiness for your gain. But YOU must make the step to make it all possible. You must decide whether any need to know, or whether you WANT any to know. Good luck.
Is there really a bisexual community?
You’re talking to one right now. We are here to share our lives, through stories, history, friends, family; we are here. Please refer to the “Groups and lists” page for the list of communities. These communities try to reach out from one bisexual to another and bridge the gap between isolated bisexual communities. To be the human part of the interface.
We are slowly coming together, demanding that our love of both sexes not be ridiculed or minimized. Demanding that as much as the gay/lesbian community wants recognition and respect from the straight community, we demand recognition and respect from both. We are falling in love or grieving in loss; we deal with the very human issues of having children; we deal with a world after the advent of AIDS. We enjoy discussing our shared experiences that make us slightly different to the rest of the world. What else is a community?
Does anyone know of any good books with bisexual characters?
The Bisexual Resources List (See question 18) gives up-to-date details of how to get lists of books (both general literature, and specifically Science Ficton/Fantasy) with bisexual themes and/or characters. Additions to these lists are always welcomed.
What is the Kinsey scale?
Please refer to the “Kinsey sexuality scale” to know about the Kinsey scale
What other resources are available on bisexuality?
There is a great deal of information on all kinds of aspects of bisexuality on the world wide web. Among the best collections of pointers to information are:
Queer Resource Directory
bi.org Links Central
The other resources at this address include mini-biographies of many soc.bi posters, a collection of recipes, poems and an archive of recent articles.
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