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Everything you’ve always wanted to ask a bisexual person but were always too scared

Katharine Swindells September 20, 2017
Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie (Andrew Kent/Getty Images)

Bisexual Visibility Day is this Saturday but, despite the concept of multiple-gender attraction having existed since pretty much the dawn of time, a huge amount of people still seem to not know much about it. So here it is, all the questions you’ve ever wanted to ask a bisexual person.

Wanna have a threesome?
This is almost always the first questions asked and, almost always, the answer is no thanks.

What is bisexuality?
Bisexuality is sexual and/or romantic attraction to both same and different genders.

Does bisexuality mean you’re not attracted to transgender people?
No! Because a lot of older definitions say bisexuality is ‘attraction to men and women,’ there is a common misconception that bisexuality excludes transgender people, whereas pansexuality includes them.

So what is the difference between bisexual and pansexual then?
Not that much really! A lot of it comes down to personal preference, and many people identify as both.

A lot of people see bisexuality as being attracted to multiple genders, but gender still matters to you. You may be attracted to different genders in different ways, or have a “type” of man you’re attracted to, for example.

But many people think of pansexuality as attraction regardless of gender.

Bisexuality is also more commonly heard of, and has a more clearly documented history and political movement, which some people like. Others may like the idea of defining their sexuality with a term that is fairly new, and doesn’t have so many attachments.

bisexual flag

What about queer, then?
Queer is an umbrella term, so it widely spans everybody who isn’t heterosexual and cisgender. However it has a history of being used as a slur, and still sometimes is, so not everyone is comfortable with it.

As with any reclaimed slur, queer is also a politicised word – often people who define themselves as queer will be involved with the LGBT+ political movement.

Don’t define someone as queer unless they said it about themselves first!

Do bisexual people just find everyone attractive?
Are straight women attracted to every man they meet?

Are bisexual people promiscuous/more likely to cheat?
No more than anyone else! If your partner is bisexual and cheats on you, they most likely would’ve still done it if they were gay or straight.

But you have twice as many people to sleep with!
We live in a world of 7 billion – there are lots of people available to sleep with whatever your sexuality.

And while we’re on the subject…
This narrative is very strong and extremely damaging to the bisexual community! There’s data that shows that almost half of people wouldn’t want to date a bisexual person, often due to the biphobic stigma that they’re unfaithful.

Almost 50% of bisexual women are raped in their lifetime, and much of that comes from a culture that paints them as sexually promiscuous and uses their sexuality as a reason to victim-blame them for their assault.

Are you half gay, half straight?
Nope. Half nothing, whole bisexual.

Isn’t everyone a little bit bi?
There’s definitely evidence that suggests that people are becoming more open and flexible about sexuality, with polls showing that over half of young people say they’re not 100% straight.

However far fewer people, more like one in 100, actively identify as bisexual and, as such experience the whole host of oppression that comes with that.

Aren’t you just going to pick a side?
Well, yeah, at some point. If you’re someone that wants to settle down into a two-person, long-term, monogamous relationship at some point, you will inevitably have to pick a person to do that with. Doesn’t mean you won’t still be bisexual.

Do you like one gender more?
Lots of bisexual people do! There’s no rule that says you have to be exactly equal opportunity, or split your dating history equally.

You’re just going through a phase, right?
Nope.

Right, but like, you’re just experimenting until you come out, yeah?
Also, nope.

Related: Is bisexuality real? (Yes, obviously)

Then why do so many gay people say they’re bi, before they come out as “fully” gay?
Lots of reasons. Maybe they’re in an environment where bisexuality is more accepted.

Also, it’s really hard to unlearn years of society forcing heterosexuality on you, and sometimes it takes a while to figure out what is your feelings, and what are feelings you’ve forced yourself to have to be “normal.”

Coming out as any part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym is difficult and there should be no judgement on whatever route it takes you to figure out who you are.

Why are there more bisexual women than men?
The real question here is, why are there more OUT bisexual women than men? Data shows that straight women are even more opposed to dating someone bisexual than straight men. The stigma surrounding bisexual men means that many choose to stay in the closet, or not disclose their sexual history to their woman partner.

Why do bisexual people often not realise they’re bisexual until they’re older?
Often people realise they’re gay not because they notice they have same-gender attraction, but because they notice they DON’T have other-gender attraction. Eg. they don’t understand why all their friends fancy the girls at school. If you’re bisexuality you wouldn’t have this absence, so might not realise until much later.

Is it easier than being gay?
Maybe in some ways, since the ability to “pass” as straight in homophobic situations could be helpful. However bisexual people are in no way immune to homophobia. Also, there’s the double-whammy that bisexual people face biphobic discrimination from within the LGBT+ community.

Biphobic discrimination within the LGBT+ community?
There are stereotypes that you’re ‘not gay enough’ to be in gay spaces, or don’t deserve to be there because you don’t experience the exact oppression. There’s a belief that bisexual people “choose to be oppressed” so it’s their own fault.

That sense that you don’t belong in either world – too gay for straight people, too straight for gay people, is crippling and horrible.

It’s believed that this is huge part of why bisexual people have some of the highest rates of mental illness in the LGBT+ community.

What if you’re straight, and then your partner comes out as transgender and you keep dating them? Does that make you bisexual?
Some people in this situation decide to start identifying as bisexual, others don’t. They might still love and be attracted to their partner, but not attracted to other same-gender people. Ultimately sexuality is about how you feel, and no one else can dictate that for you.

So sexuality is fluid then? Why bother with labels at all?
Gender and sexuality is vastly more complex and intricate than we can comprehend. Some people choose not to label their sexuality, but for many labels can be extremely important.

Maybe in the future we’ll have a world where no one needs gender or sexuality labels, but while LGBT+ people still face oppression, the community, history, and shared experience that labels bring is vital.

Why do people say [insert celebrity] turned them bi?
No one turns you bi, but you will always hold a candle for the first person that made you realise. Emma Stone, if you’re reading this…

Related: Ruby Rose can’t deal with all the women who claim she turned them gay 

Ruby Rose in Orange in the New Black

What’s the most annoying thing about biphobia?
For me, it’s the way it’s presented in the media, when celebrities who have publicly dated people of different genders are labelled as gay and straight depending on who they’re with. Kristen Stewart has a girlfriend, but has publicly been with men in the past, and yet people can’t fathom the possibility that she might date a man again in the future.

Who are some bisexual celebrities?
Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie, Billie Joe Armstrong, Anna Paquin, Alan Cumming, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Lauren Jauregui, Sara Ramirez – and that’s just to name a few!

More: Angelina Jolie, biphobia, bisexual, Bisexuality, Kristen Stewart, Sara Ramirez, Transgender

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