Monday, September 24, 2012

Bisexuality Part 1 - What is Bisexuality?

Yesterday, as I was looking up information to include in this post, I became aware that it was "Celebrate Bisexuality" Day. I had been considering doing a post on bisexuality (which is how I happened across the information). Even though it doesn't relate as directly to the main theme of my blog as some other topics, bisexuality is something that I personally experience, and I think it's something that is frequently misunderstood, not only in society as a whole, but to some extent, even within the LGBT community. And so when I learned that yesterday was Celebrate Bisexuality Day, it confirmed to me that now is the time to write about bisexuality.

In reveiwing the information I want to include, I have decided that there is too much to be included in one concise post. This will be the first of a three part series of posts on bisexuality. Part Two will be about the myths and stereotypes concerning bisexuality. And Part Three will be about biphobia.

When I first heard about Celebrate Biseuality Day, I was pleasantly surprised, though for me, I'd be more pleased with a Bisexuality Awareness Day. By that, I would hope for a day that people became more aware not only that bisexuals exist, but also aware of exactly what bisexuality is.

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic, sexual or emotional attraction or behavior toward males and females. As behaviors are more likely to be situational based on a variety of factors, my focus on this post will be on attractions.

A person who identifies as bisexual is one who is romantically, sexually or emotionally attracted toward males and females, regardless of whether they participate in romantic or sexual behavior with individuals of both sexes.

The American Institute of Bisexuality has the following to say concerning bisexuality:
Bisexuals are people who have the innate capacity to form enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender. There may be an individual preference for one gender over others. Bisexuality is not synonymous with being polyamorous. Individual bisexual people may be celibate, monogamous or non-monogamous just as individual straight, lesbian or gay people can be.
In my experience, bisexuals often appear to me much less visible in society than those that are straight, gay or lesbian. I believe that this is in large part because for many, it's easy to assume thier sexual orientation based on the sex of their spouse or partner. Many assume that if a person is in an opposite-sex relationship that they are straight, and if they are in a same-sex relationship that they are gay. I have had people assume this about me when I have been dating. And I have been guilty of this myself at times, only to later find out that the person I assumed was gay or straight was actually bisexual.

There was a time I found myself almost gravitating to others that I learned were bisexual. Because these were others that could truly relate to my experience. While others that were attracted to only one sex could sympthize with me, other bisexuals were those that knew what I felt from experience.

I have at times have had people tell me that I am lucky to be bisexual. And I suppose that in some ways they may be right. But while some may see being bisexual as the best of both worlds, I also see it as being the worst of both worlds.

Before I was out, and even now when I'm in a group that doesn't specifically know my sexual orientation, when I am with a group that is predominantly straight, the assumption is generally that I am straight, even though I really am not. Likewise, when I am in a group that is predominantly gay, often the assumption is that I am gay, even though I really am not (there have actually been times when I've been in a predominantly gay group and been asked if I was straight, but that is a discussion for another time).

In a sense, I am both gay and straight, and yet I am neither. I can usually pass as either without even trying, but althogh I feel welcome, I don't feel quite that I'm a part of either group.

For example, when I'm with a group of straight guys that are talking to each other about the women that they are checking out that they think are hot, I can't often relate. My hetersosexual attractions don't generally work that way. At the same time, when I'm with a gay friend who's talking about how gross or disgusting he finds the female anatomy, I also can't relate. I do have heterosexual attractions, and I don't find the female anatomy gross or disgusting.

But these are my experiences. Other bisexuals might find themselves relating to either experience depending on the nature of their attractions to either sex.

I once asked another bisexual man that I'd recently met whether he was equally attracted to men and women, or whether the attractions to one was stronger than the other. His response was: "It's apples and oranges."

I didn't really understand what he was saying at the time, though I have a much better idea now, particularly since I've come to see my own attractions in much the same way. I used to think of my attractions to men as being stronger than my attractions to women; now I just see them as different.

For those familiar with the Kinsey Scale, I don't feel like it works very well for me. For me attractions to one sex don't decrease as attractions to the other sex increase. For me (and for others I've spoken to), they work independant of one another.

While it is true that physical and sexual attraction to men usually comes much faster for me and that there are many more men that I find attractive than women, that does nothing to diminish my attraction to women when it is there. For there have been both men and women for whom I have felt strong physical, sexual and emotional attraction.

Some would tell me that because I more readily notice men that I find attractive than women, that I would be better off as identifying as gay. But for me, "gay" has never felt like a good fit. For me, it denies the heterosexual attractions that I do have. If I am to be true to myself and honest about my attractions, bisexual is the identity that fits best for me.

1 comment:

  1. This post cleared up a lot of confusion I have had about my own bisexual attractions. They are on their on plane in my mind and don't interact at all. Thanks for this post Adam :} I really felt for what you said and can totally relate.