As a proud bisexual man, for years I've had to navigate the complicated gray area that my identity occupies on the sexuality spectrum. Despite all of the gains the LGBT community has made, bisexuals are still looked upon with confusion — or outright scorn — by gays, lesbians and straight people alike. From people asking me if I was "full-blown gay yet" to people questioning my motivations, I've probably heard it all.
Unfortunately, the binary way of thinking that informs the reasoning of many who remain unconvinced by the reality of bisexuality ultimately oppresses everyone through its perpetuation of unflinching heteronormative or homonormative standards. Being intimate with someone of the same sex doesn't mean you're gay, just like being intimate with someone of the opposite sex doesn't mean you're straight — it just means you fall somewhere in the beautiful, fluid spectrum of sexuality.
Here we are in the supposedly enlightened year of 2014 – and yet, biphobia persists. In no particular order, here are a few of the most tiresome lies society really needs to stop telling about the bisexual community.
This is the first lie about bisexuality — and it's a big one. Some in the gay and straight community simply can't fathom a sexuality in which individuals are attracted to more than one gender. Ultimately, you can test the waters but you must pick a side, the thinking goes. But bisexuals don't need lesbians and gays to confirm or science to prove that they exist.
Yes, it is true that plenty of gays and lesbians have used bisexuality as a stepping stone, a way to soften the blow of coming out for conservative parents. While coming out is an intensely personal decision, the strategies of some should not invalidate the identities of the majority.
Bisexual people are not automatically more promiscuous than any other person — gay or straight. Being attracted to more than one gender does provide more potential partners. But just as having an eclectic taste in wines does not make one an alcoholic, being bisexual does not make you greedy.
A cheater is a cheater. Bisexual people cheat and so do people who identify as straight, gay, trans or in between. Their sexuality doesn't make them cheat: impulse control, poor decision-making skills or a lack of consideration for their partner do.
While polyamory may stereotypically appear more prevalent in the queer community, there is no hard data that ties polyamory more directly to the bisexual community than any other orientation. That type of relationship structure isn't attached to any given sexuality, it's a personal choice.
Being attracted to both genders doesn't have anything to do with commitment. Alan Cumming addressed this misconception in a candid interview last year. "I have a healthy sexual appetite and a healthy imagination," Cumming told Instinct magazine. "I still define myself as a bisexual even though I have chosen to be with Grant. I’m sexually attracted to the female form even though I am with a man and I just feel that bisexuals have a bad rap."
The sexualization of women knows no bounds in today's contemporary culture. But just because magazines and the entertainment industry continue to exploit female hypersexuality in a transparent attempt to sell products doesn't mean that all women swing both ways a la Shakira and Rihanna in "Can't Remember to Forget You" — sorry Shakira, we're not buying what those lying hips are selling.
Oh, please. Just because someone is bisexual doesn't mean they don't have standards.
Respected bisexual activist Robyn Ochs describes bisexuality as the potential "to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way and not necessarily to the same degree." So no, it's not about the binary, folks.
Men who have sex with men are at a disproportionate risk of HIV infection. But that doesn't make bisexuals who have HIV more likely to spread the disease — taking the proper precautions is necessary regardless of your sexual orientation. Always use protection, know your partners status and your status.
Threesomes are not a hallmark of the bisexual lifestyle, they are merely an option, just as they are for any other sexual being.
In 2007, a survey of 768 self-identified lesbians, gays and bisexuals found that nearly half identified as bisexual — that's a full 48.9%. Bisexuals might not speak out as much as their lesbian and gay brothers and sisters, but this is more due to lingering stigmas than it is to sheer strength. Like it or not, the bisexual community is here, and it's here to stay.