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What Does It Mean to be Bisexual?

We're smackbang in the middle of Bisexuality Awareness Week (September 16 to 23), so I thought I'd pop in and share some of the most common myths and misconceptions around bisexuality that I have to debunk in and outside of the therapy room.

We'll start with the basics - what is the definition of bisexuality?

At its most base level, bisexuality means having attraction towards two or more genders. This doesn't mean it's only sexual or that it needs to be both sexual and romantic. This doesn't mean it's only attraction to men and women. This doesn't mean attraction to each gender is equal. This doesn't mean it even has to be at the same time or season in your life. There is no one homogenous experience of bisexuality and if you were to ask bisexual folks about their relationship to their sexuality, you'd get more variety within bisexuality than you would between bisexuality vs heterosexuality vs homosexuality. For some, bisexuality is a feeling, a core part of their identity or a lifestyle. For others, it's just a label or sexual orientation.

What makes it difficult for bisexual or at least bi-curious folks to accept their sexuality?

For most if not all folks under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, there can be a feeling that you have to "prove" your sexuality or your identity in a way that we never ask of heterosexuality - because it is otherwise compulsory and assumed until proven otherwise. Compulsory heterosexuality, a concept popularised by Adrienne Rich, has been a fundamental part in the erasure of sexual and gender diversity, and it's often not until folks are given the language, resources and community that we can start to question the status quo. This doesn't even begin to touch on individual circumstance and how one's social and cultural environment can have a big impact on how we see, understand and accept ourselves.

For bisexuality in particular, there can feel like a tall order of things you have to do or experience in order to quality for the "Bisexual Label" and there are a lot of pervasive myths about what bisexuality means and looks like. These are a few of the most common I come across:

  • That you need to have romantic and sexual experience for your bisexuality to be valid

  • That your bisexuality needs to be a perfect 50:50 split

  • That you need to be 'out' for your sexuality to be valid

  • That you love your partner less because you're attract to other people/genders

  • That you stop being bisexual because you enter a monogamous relationship

I also posted a question box on my Instagram story earlier this week asking followers for other common myths or misconceptions they come across in regards to bisexuality. These were some of their answers:

  • "You're not bi enough if you're in a hetero-passing relationship"

  • "That it's anti-trans and non binary people because I don't identify as pansexual. Not how that works"

  • "You are picking one gender over the other"

  • "That we want to hook up with everyone"

  • "It's just a phase"

  • "That bi men don't exist, they're just gay"

  • "We're just indecisive and greedy"

  • "That we're confused!!!"

  • "It's the step before being gay"

  • "Being into threesomes"

The reality is that there's no measure or test you have to pass in order to identify as bisexual. You can absolutely be bisexual and confused, you can absolutely be bisexual and love threesomes, you can absolutely be bisexual and want to hook up with everyone and the list goes on. All of this can coexist and it's not an either/or, but it's about acknowledging that it can be a disservice and a very real act of harm to diverse groups when we generalise, stereotype, and even encourage discrimination. You're bisexual insofar as that is the label you feel like most aligns with your feelings and experiences. We're coming a long way in not only raising awareness around bisexuality and debunking these myths, but celebrating all forms of sexuality, and it's weeks like Bisexuality Awareness Week where we get a little step closer to a world where everyone is welcome, celebrated and encouraged to show up exactly as they are.


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