We view the LGBTQ community as a group of people who have endured similar hardships and work to support each other as we fight for equality. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Bisexual people are often frowned upon and misunderstood – not just by the heterosexual majority, but by the rest of the LGBTQ community as well.
This confusion about bisexuality stems from a lack of general knowledge about the inner workings of sexual identity. Yes, I said general – the fact that we’re LGBTQ doesn’t make us all experts! Many of us think of sexual identity as binary – one or the other – when the reality is, it is multifaceted. A fluid spectrum. But believe it or not, some people still can’t fathom sexual attraction to more than one gender.
Here are 7 misconceptions we tell ourselves about bisexuality.
Bisexuals Don’t Exist.
I guess I’m cheating a little in writing about this one – it’s more a flat out lie than it is a myth. It’s perhaps the most common lie that people believe about bisexuality. It just isn’t true!
“But there have been studies done,” you might respond. Yes, it’s true… A 2005 study on the arousal of bisexual people has led the scientific community to question the actual existence of bisexuality at all. In the study, researchers had bisexual men view images of men and women and recorded their levels of arousal. The men studied showed sexual arousal to one preferred gender, thus pushing forward the myth that bisexuals are either straight, gay, or lying.
The major problem with this study? Its conclusions about sexual orientation are based solely on arousal. And autonomic arousal does not invalidate an entire sexual identity. Dr. Randall Sell of Columbia University states, “The last thing you want is for therapists to see this study and start telling bisexual people that they’re wrong… we don’t know nearly enough about sexual orientation and identity to jump to these conclusions.”
It’s Just a Phase.
Remember hearing this, every LGBTQ person to ever come out in the history of coming out? Yes, the hope or expectation that one day you’ll wake up straight, or “normal” is a huge problem for all LGBTQ people. But bisexual people may just be the only people to hear that annoying phrase from straight and queer people alike.
It’s true that many gay and lesbian people have used the term “bisexual” as a stepping stone to ease coming out to their friends and families. Many identify as bisexual while they figure their sexualities out.
But this shouldn’t take away from the fact that for many people, “bisexual” is not a stepping-stone, and it’s not a choice that people can switch between. It is a final decision of sexual orientation. Bisexuality is not indecision between genders. It is a declaration of having no preference between them. And it is just as valid a sexual identity as any other.
Bisexuals Will Cheat on You.
I’ve actually been told this one a few times by gay and lesbian friends of mine. Oh, those greedy bisexuals. So promiscuous and out to hurt the people they love. Because no one on the face of the earth with another sexual identity has done anything to hurt their partner, right?
Yes, there are some people who are promiscuous and do cheat, who happen to be bisexual. But straight people also cheat. And gay people. And lesbian people. And trans people. Infidelity is universal, and it speaks more to a person’s morality, commitment and self-esteem than it does their sexual identity.
All Bisexuals are Polyamorous.
There is no hard evidence that ties bisexual people to polyamory any more than people of other sexual orientations. That’s it. That’s the point. Short and sweet.
Bisexuals are Attracted to Everyone.
A person’s bisexual identity is not an invite for you to ask them over for a quickie. Nor is it a warning that you need to keep private parts hidden from them when you’re in a change-room together. Just like with anyone else, there is, in fact, a chance they’re just not into you like that. Bisexual means “no (or relaxed) gender preferences”, not “no standards”. Bisexual people still have preferences in their partners’ looks and personalities just like the rest of us.
Bisexuals Love Threesomes.
This seems easy to rationalize for a few reasons. Why not have your cake – and your hotdog – and eat them too? Again, I do have to state: there are bisexual people, like all other types of people, who like to have or are interested in threesomes or other types of group sex. But just like all other types of people, the preference to have group sex – especially with a committed partner – remains in the minority. There are bisexual people who prefer the intimacy of just one person, and there are bisexual couples that would feel extremely imposed upon if you walked up to them and asked for some group action.
There are Way Fewer Bisexuals Than There are Other LGBTQ People.
Nope! In a 2007 survey of self-identified LGBTQ people, nearly 50% identified as bisexual. So then why do they seem so unrepresented? Well, the previously mentioned stereotypes and other stigmas are prevalent in our society today. Due to societal views about bisexual people, only 28% of bisexuals make their orientation known to friends and family compared to 71% of lesbian women and 77% of gay men. These numbers tell us that bi-erasure – the social diminishing of the bisexual identity – is not a myth. Our social prejudices about bisexuality allow bisexual people to feel unwanted and unheard.
How did we do? Was there a stereotype on this list you’ve heard of or have been told before? Are there any that we missed? Let Psych2Go know!
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