Photo C/O Cecilie Johnsen
CW: Biphobia, transphobia
Friends, Romans and countrymen, lend me your ears. For too long I’ve had to put up with the same bullshit. This little bi is here to set the record straight. Biphobia and bisexual erasure are a daily reality for bisexual and pansexual people alike. Even amongst the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, biphobia runs rampant. While I have noticed an improvement in recent years, there are still a number of myths about bi folks that remain. Let’s bust them.
Myth I: Bisexuality is transphobic
There is a common misconception that bisexuality is transphobic because it refers to attraction to only cisgender men and women. There are a number of reasons that this is wrong, but to begin with, trans and non-binary people can be bi.
“But Lauren, bi means two,” you say. “So you must only like men and women.”
Listen buddy, you’re being pedantic. Yes, technically the bi in bisexuality is meant to indicate an attraction to two genders. However, bisexuality was first recognized back when the idea of being transgender or non-binary was mostly rejected by Western society. At the time (and still, sometimes, today) society only recognized two genders. Our understanding of gender has evolved over time, and so has the definition of what it means to be bi.
It’s easy to say that bisexual folks are attracted to cis men and women, whereas pansexual folks are attracted to everything in between. It puts us into neat and tidy boxes. It’s easy to do that, but oh boy is it ever wrong. In my experience, the only difference between bi and pan is whatever label feels more comfortable to you. Personally, I just feel more comfortable with bi.
My sexuality isn’t limited to the definition of bisexuality, but it feels necessary for me to have that label in order to exist in a society that is defined by labels. My romantic and sexual orientation is messy and complex and trying to fit it into a neat and tidy box is like Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to fit their feet into the glass slippers. Just because it’s easier for you to say I’m only attracted to men and women doesn’t mean it’s true.
Myth I: BUSTED!
MYTH II: Bisexuals are confused
On one side of the biphobia coin is the idea that all bi folks are one step away from coming out as gay or lesbian. Yes, it’s true that some people will use bisexuality as a way to experiment with their sexuality and branch out. Hey, coming out sucks, and I absolutely understand people who want to get comfortable first. That doesn’t mean all bi and pan people are just deluding themselves, it just means that some people may not be comfortable coming out without a transition period.
The other side of this coin is the idea that bisexuals are actually just straight and are either confused or looking for attention. For a long time, I thought that I was just confused. I’ll be honest, I actually went back into the closet because I was convinced that other people were bi, but I was attracted to men so I guess I must be straight. I doubted my own damn sexuality, which is nonsense and ridiculous. No one should be made to feel that way.
Myth II: BUSTED!
Myth III: Bisexuals are promiscuous
Disclaimer before we get into this: I am NOT saying that it’s a bad thing to have sex. Have sex with as many or as few people as you want, I support you wholeheartedly! The thing that I do take issue with is people thinking that someone’s sexuality means that they want to sleep with you.Bisexuality is an identity, not an invitation.
Have you ever tried navigating a dating app as a bi person? There are three main camps of people you’ll run into. First, unicorn hunters. As a rule, this is a heterosexual couple looking for a threesome. As I’ve mentioned, it’s gross to assume that someone’s sexuality means they want to have sex with you. Buddy, it is not my fault that you can’t please your girlfriend on your own. Buy a vibrator and leave me out of it.
The second group is biphobic people that think that bi folks aren’t queer. I am so tired of the “you must be this gay to ride” trope. It’s a relationship, not a rollercoaster. I can’t believe I need to say this, but bi people aren’t inherently more likely to cheat on you than anyone else. Just because we’re attracted to more than one gender doesn’t mean we can’t commit to one person.
The third and final group is decent human beings who actually want to date you, bless their hearts.
Myth III: BUSTED!
Myth IV: Bisexuals in relationships have chosen a side”
There is an assumption that bi people in committed relationships have “decided” that they are gay or they are straight. This is so unspeakably invalidating. It makes me feel like I’m right back in the closet again. Not everyone is out here looking for a polyamorous relationship (although if you are, more power to you), some people just want to settle down with one person. That shouldn’t and doesn’t invalidate their identity. Your relationship status doesn’t define your sexuality.
Myth IV: BUSTED!
Sometimes I feel like people have forgotten what the B stands for in LGBTQ2SIA+. It’s not bananas, folks. A part of common human decency is to respect the way that people identify. I don’t need to justify my sexuality to anyone, and I shouldn’t have to. Neither should you. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
This article is part of our Sex and the Steel City, our annual sex-positive issue. Click here to read more content from the special issue.