It’s common to think of sexuality as being entirely dependent on one’s specific gender identity and outward indicators thereof, and mainstream culture has an unfortunate habit of reduce sexual orientation to the binary of straight and gay, ignoring everything in between. So when bisexuality does come into play, even within the LGBT community, it often remains misunderstood at best and baselessly attacked at worst. In this article, I’ll be outlining three commonly repeated ideas about bisexual people, where they come from, and why perpetuating them is bad for business, bisexuals, and the LGBT community at large.
There’s a common quip about bisexuality that goes “Bisexuality is the ability to reach down someone’s pants and be satisfied with whatever you find.” Besides being ridiculous when you spend more than a second thinking about it (A lot of things can be inside someone’s pants, and not all of them are pleasant!), the statement says a lot about how bisexuals are perceived in society. Portrayed as being sexual opportunists who have no problem bedding anyone, the myth of the “depraved” bisexual has a long, long history and still exists today. Bisexual people, of course, are no more or no less sexual than any other segment of the population and different bisexual people often hold very different self-definitions of what their bisexuality is! This myth also often suggests that bisexual people are inherently less faithful and monogamous, which, once again, is a foolish and misinformed argument best left to collect dust.
Maybe you’ve heard this one before: “[x] is just faking their bisexuality! I know they’re secretly gay/straight!” It’s enormously disheartening how often this idea pops up, even within the LGBT community. While it is true that people often experiment with their sexuality and do not always settle into one permanent mode of attraction or another, this is a phenomenon that applies equally to straight, gay, and bisexual people alike. For many people, sexual attraction comes not from specific gender-oriented qualities, but from specific characteristics people across the gender spectrum hold, making it difficult to define their sexualities on the basis of gender alone. And although many people experiment and never identify with a single sexual label, many more find specific labels and identities useful and necessary, bisexual people included.
This is an argument that just makes me bat my eyes. What is meant by “oppressed” here? While it is true that bisexual people in heterosexual relationships experience benefits on the basis of that relationship, any privileges accrued are entirely conditional on that single relationship, and should they enter into a different type of relationship will be gone in the blink of an eye. Furthermore, bisexual people face their own unique sets of discrimination, which makes compare gay vs. bi oppressions a remarkably useless effort. All people in the LGBT community experience discrimination and oppression, often in differing and multiple ways. Comparing them and trying to figure out which is worst is a useless endeavor, like comparing apples and oranges.
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