My Gay World: Bi Any Other Name

By: Guy Haines

As a 29-year-old bisexual male living in one of the most socially liberal times, I’m often amazed by people’s reactions whenever I dare admit to being physically and emotionally attracted to both men and women. While I’ve had friends of all stripes respond questionably to the notion, I’m shocked to find the most intolerance comes from my gay friends, whose response is generally a subtextual “I’ve had the nerve to come out and be fully gay, why can’t you?”

There’s a common misconception about bisexuality, that it’s merely a way station on the journey to self-acceptance. And for some that may be true. I had a college roommate whose father came out at age 55 after four children and 32 years of marriage. He initially labeled himself “curiously” bisexual, but after the familial furor died down he amended it to being exclusively gay. Was he kidding himself all that time, choosing to live with a title society deems more acceptable, or did his experimentation simply open up new sexual possibilities? I have no idea.

While the term “bisexual” may be transitional or temporary for those people questioning, contemplating, exploring or fearing their sexuality, for many— including myself— it’s a lasting identity.

So why is the concept met with such resistance from both gay and straight communities? It appears to be part of nature; chimpanzees in the wild are socially bisexual and enjoy the best of both worlds. It’s also seen throughout history. In ancient Greek society boys commonly slept with other boys until they married women, and many scholars consider Dionysus to be the bisexual archetype.

But even with those facts in hand, people cannot get beyond the need to see people as one thing or the other. This is ironic, because while bisexuality as a concept may seem nebulous, many bisexuals are absolutely clear about their orientation. Consider how some straight people say they just don’t understand how one man can be sexually attracted to another man, and yet that doesn’t matter; straight people don’t have to “get it,” the fact is that homosexuals exist. The same argument can be used for bisexuals. Just because a gay person doesn’t understand how I could be attracted to both a man and a woman, doesn’t matter; I feel those feelings and I do exist.

The truth is that it’s just easier for mainstream society to accept the notion that everyone is either gay or straight. The fact that bisexuals don't fit conventional expectations and are seen as making a conscious choice not to be on anyone’s team is evidently threatening to those not “sitting on the fence.” As such, bisexuals often experience exclusion from both sides. There are no bisexual bars per se, there is no true bisexual community, and we often hear absurd statements about the affects of our “choice.”

For example, there’s a belief that those who “flip flop” are weakening the political argument that says gays and lesbians “don’t have a choice” in their sexuality. There’s another that says bisexuals are to blame for the spread of AIDS. These are both ridiculous. AIDS is a behavioral issue not a sexuality issue, and the rising number of women contracting HIV from their boyfriends stems from the man’s disregard for his partner and himself—not from him identifying as bisexual. And as for the political argument, here’s a news flash for you: The people who think homosexuality is a choice hate you—period—and whether or not I identify as being gay or bi won’t change that.

As for the subject of monogamy, while I personally doubt the notion that there is only one person out there for everyone, bisexuals as a rule are no more concurrent in their relationships than people of other orientations. Monogamy is absolutely a possibility. So asking, “If you end up with a woman, would you crave men?” is just as ludicrous as asking a straight man if he craves other women throughout his marriage. Attraction does not necessitate action. Bisexuality does not require two sexual relationships at once, nor is it about gender indifference, gender-blindness, polyandry or a lack of discretion. It merely broadens the potential for involvement, both sexual and non.

Like with many other people in the LGBTQ community, my sexuality is certainly not a delineation of my entire being; rather, it’s a mere component of the overall human spectrum. I have gay friends who gravitate specifically toward men with beards or men who are tall. I happen to like clean-shaven men and tall women. For me, gender is just another physical attribute, another aspect of a person’s character.

And yes, while bisexuality may provide considerably more options for dating, it also doubles your chance of rejection. 

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