Busting some bisexuality myths
I never really came out as bisexual. I started dating men and then started dating women — it was that simple for me. But for some people, understanding my sexual preferences wasn’t that simple. People were suddenly asking me how I sexually identified, which is pretty damn complicated to do when you don’t necessarily know the answer to that question yourself! On top of the pressure I felt to fit into a particular mould, I had heard all of these negative stereotypes about what it meant to be bisexual — not very encouraging for a 20-year-old who’s already struggling to find an identity. And it becomes even more discouraging for folks who already face racial, gender, and/or other socially constructed barriers. Let’s try to bust some of those negative “myths.”
MYTH #1: Bisexual folks are greedy for love and attention
Busted: Just as straight folks have certain romantic and sexual preferences, bi folks have individual preferences and needs that need to be met. Bisexuals aren’t out to date, or sleep with, anyone and everyone on the face of the planet.
MYTH #2: Bisexual folks can’t be in a long-term, monogamous relationship
Busted: When any individual enters into a long-term relationship, monogamous or not, they’re choosing to make sacrifices for their partner. Whether that be having to share a “comfortable for just one person” bed at night or having to wait to use the bathroom in the morning even though we really, really have to pee. We give certain things up for the people we love, and that’s okay! In fact, it’s pretty incredible. So when bisexual folks consent to being in a long-term, monogamous relationship, they may be giving up “the opposite gender,” but they’re getting so much more in return from their partner.
MYTH #3: Bisexual folks are actually just gay, but are too afraid to come out
Busted: Being bisexual doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a 50/50 split when it comes to being attracted to men and women. Some bi folks may prefer to date men, but also enjoy dating women, and vice versa.
There is no secret formula for sexual chemistry and attraction, although sometimes we wish there were. And sometimes, we don’t yet know what our sexual preferences are — and that’s okay. While identifying as bisexual can feel right at one point in time, a person may come to realize or decide that identifying as gay or queer better describes their orientation later on. And if you think you know somebody that is bisexual, but may still be “in the closet,” the best thing you can do is listen and be supportive, even if you don’t fully understand.
MYTH #4: Bisexual folks are just expermenting
Busted: As Elena Novak of Everyday Feminism puts it, “the problem with associating this [experimental] phase with bisexuality — aside from the fact that assuming that this is a phase that all people actually go through — is that it is incredibly demeaning to those who are bisexual, those who are earnestly seeking a loving relationship with someone regardless of gender.” You don’t hear people question how straight people figured out they were straight, or how they really know they’re attracted to the opposite sex, so it doesn’t make much sense to do the same for bisexual folks.
If you’re looking for more information on bisexuality, or are in need of support, Guelph has a ton of resources that are worth checking out!
The University of Guelph offers an anonymous service called OUTline that you can reach online in the evenings.*
The Guelph Queer Equality office is located in UC 270 and has drop-in office hours open to the public.
Out on the Shelf, a program run in partnership with the City of Guelph, has a library and tons of resources for the LGBTQ+ community that you can visit downtown at 10 Carden St.
As well, Guelph Pride will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this coming Spring — learn more at Guelph Pride’s website.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via CC0
*Update February 9, 2018, 1:11pm: A previous version of this article mistakenly attributed OUTline with the wrong office location. This has since been updated with the correct information.