By Federica Bocco
Society has a problem with bisexuality: it likes to pretend that it’s not real.
Bisexual women are seen as straight but faking. Bisexual men are seen as gay but faking. What do these two scenarios have in common? Both want to assume everyone likes men. Tragically, that is not the case.
Despite the myths, bisexuals do exist. They are just very good at blending in, because contrary to popular imagination, they don’t really sell their soul to the devil a la Dorian Grey. It’s a minority whose connotative trait is not immediately visible. And that makes bisexuality easy to ignore.
In fact, besides blunt homophobia, bisexuality has two archenemies that go together like peanut and jelly. They are heteronormativity and erasure. Heteronormativity has its roots deep beneath the surface of ideology, and it leads to the assumption that everyone is straight until proven otherwise. Bisexual erasure does heteronormativity’s dirty work when it comes to representation in popular culture.
Bisexuals are not confused, experimenting, or just going through a phase. Every shade of bisexuality is valid and cannot be determined by how many people of each sex a person has been with. It is a matter of identity, which comes even before sexuality. So when a bisexual dates someone of the opposite sex, it doesn’t mean they become straight. Or that they’ve been straight all along. They are still bisexual. They maintain the potential to like all sexes regardless of the sex of their partner. Just like a straight man who is faithfully married to his wife can still find other women attractive. A bisexual is still bisexual regardless of who they end up with: a man, a woman, a non-binary, or eighty cats.
Statistics have always been a tricky business when it comes to the LGBT+ community. However, most seem to agree that approximately 10% of the U.S. population are queer, and that bisexuals are predominant in the category. But among the younger generations, who are more accepting and inclusive, the number increases significantly: a survey conducted in the UK proves that as many as 49% of 18-24 year-olds described themselves as “not completely heterosexual,” and leaning, even slightly, into bisexuality. Millennials might just be the most bisexual generation since Ancient Athens.
Unfortunately, some of the most common misconceptions are still prevalent even among the more accepting and open-minded social groups. Bisexuals are often objects of stigma that is internal to the gay community itself, because some like to believe that, by being able to pass as straight, bisexuals get off the hook more easily. Still, never ever out a bisexual.
As any other person who doesn’t identify as straight, they might not be ready to be out just yet, and it should always be their choice, when and whom to tell. Misinformation and misrepresentation have contributed to influence the image that most people have of bisexuals. That they are greedy, and have a higher sex drive, and will cheat on you. Or that it’s a cover for being gay. Bisexuality does not necessarily equal promiscuity nor polyamory.
If you want to have a respectful and peaceful relationship with a bisexual person, here’s some things you should avoid asking them: when are they going to pick a side, which do they prefer, do they just do it for fun, don’t they miss one when they’re with the other. Because when straight people ask those questions, bisexuals are indeed confused… by your ignorance.