Despite all the progress that’s been made in LGBTQIA communities, bisexuality is still widely misunderstood. Intersex, transgender and nonbinary communities are gaining acceptance, but the “B” in LGBTQIA is very much a complicated gray area.
Words From a Bisexual on LGBTQ Pride Month
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.”
Even though bisexual people make up the biggest subset of queer folks in the U.S., with 40 percent of respondents identifying as bisexual in a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of queer Americans, bisexuals are less likely to be out than their gay and lesbian peers. In fact, it's estimated that only 28 percent of bisexuals come out.
Sexually speaking, I don’t feel like society isn’t quite ready to deal with people like me. I like men – and women. I’m also kinky AF and engage in consensual non-monogamy. I don’t fit into a cookie-cutter ideal – and I’m OK with it.
Even so, when it comes to bisexuality, there are a lot of myths and stereotypes that need busting. Here’s what I want you to know.
Bisexuality Is Real
Society seems to want to categorize everyone as straight, gay or confused. It makes perfect sense – our world loves simple black-and-white scenarios. Repeat after me: bisexuality is valid. If you don’t believe me, take a good long look at hetero-centric pornography. In 2017, for the third year in a row, “lesbian” was the number one term searched worldwide on Pornhub. According to data from the pornographic video sharing website, 23 percent of its U.S. visitors are women. That’s a lot of female-identifying people looking at pussy. Do the math and deal with it.
It's Not a Phase
I’ll bet there are plenty of people who use bisexuality as a baby step in coming out. Or maybe, for others, it's a try-before-you-buy situation while sorting out their sexuality. I get it. But for a lot of people, like me, bisexuality is an identity and calling it a “phase” is harmful. I’ve liked boys and girls my entire life; it’s always been a part of my sexual makeup. Nothing has changed. Now that I'm well into my fourth decade, I’m guessing it won’t.
I'm Not Half Gay (Or Half Straight)
This isn’t a 50/50 situation. Nor is it appropriate to ask which gender I like more. I’m pretty sure no one ever asks a straight person how straight they are, right? In real life, I’m a dive-into-the-deep-end-of-the-pool-without-water-wings kind of gal. When I’m in, I’m intrepid and all in. Always. But when it comes to my sexuality, I consider myself fluid, and my attraction to both genders ebbs and flows. To quote Bjork: “I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. You'd be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavors.”
I’m Not Afraid of Commitment
In addition to being bisexual, I’m non-monogamous and polyamorous. Sure, I may date men and women – simultaneously – but that’s not what bisexuality is all about. It’s about not limiting attraction based on someone’s sex. It doesn’t mean I’m not committed to my partners. I very much am. The degree of communication and sexual frequency may vary, but I care about all my partners and am very much open to and capable of love. Commitment isn’t an issue.
I'm Not Promiscuous Either
I’ve probably had more sex partners than the average person, but it doesn’t mean my sexual relationships are casual. Every so often, I’ll have a carefully vetted one-night stand or FWB scenario, but it’s definitely not the norm.
I'm Probably Not Going to Have a Threesome With You
When the stars align and the tide is right, threesomes can be a total blast. Sure, I’m attracted to men and women, but it doesn’t mean I’m always down for an all-you-can-eat buffet. I fully understand that in the world of swingers and open relationships, I’m a unicorn, aka the hard-to-find single female DTF. And as much as I appreciate a team approach to pleasure, me being your third is never a given.
There Are More of Us Than You Think
In Pew Research Center’s 2013 survey of LGBT Americans, 40 percent of respondents said they were bisexual. A few years prior, a 2011 analysis by UCLA’s Williams Institute found that bisexuals accounted for about 1.8 percent of the total U.S. adult population. We may not have widespread visibility, but we exist.
Bi-Erasure Is Alive and Well
Bisexuals have a complex identity and fall into a strange void. We’re mostly invisible or don’t fit into gay communities, much less the straight world at large. It doesn’t help that bisexuals are rarely represented in the media. I’ve been told to “pick a team," which is silly and unfair. I don’t need affirmation; I just don’t want my existence to be totally ignored. My identity is valid.
Sexuality can be confusing. It brings up endless questions and conflicting information. But it can also give way to beautiful conversations and self-discovery. Just because you like someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay. Ditto for liking the opposite sex; it doesn’t automatically make you straight. For me, bisexuality allows me to connect with a wide spectrum of people of all shades of queerness. And that’s pretty damn beautiful.
Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. Over the past two decades, her work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including Marie Claire, Playboy, Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, WIRED, and Thrillist.
She adopted a pseudonym and was AVN’s (Adult Video Network) first female porn reviewer – while penning children’s books at the same time. More recently, she is the author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating (2019). She lives in Seattle with her rescue dog, Mimi. You can find her on Twitter @rynpfeuffer or IG @ryn_says