Monday, October 8, 2012

Bisexuality Part 2 - Myths & Stereotypes

In my last post, I discussed what bisexuality is. In this post, I will be discussing what bisexuality isn't, meaning I will be discussing the myths and stereotypes about bisexuality.

While reviewing information for this post, I came across a lot more mistaken ideas about bisexuality than I realized existed. Just when I think I've heard or read everything, I come across something new. In this post, I will discuss the most common myths and stereotypes, as well as a few of those that are less common. If there are any that you feel I have missed, feel free to add them in a comment.
  • There is no such thing as a bisexual. People are either gay or straight, with nothing in between.
I've lost track of how many times I've heard or been told this. A lot of people, especially in Western culture, like to be able to see things as either black or white; or they want to be able to put everything into neat boxes or categories. For many of these people, bisexuality just doesn't fit.

In reality, the world is not just black and white. It is all or nothing. And though they may not realize that they are doing it, those that deny the existence of bisexuality are also denying the experiences of millions of people that feel attraction to both men and women.
  • Bisexuals are confused or uncertain about their sexuality.
I've also had people that I've told that I'm bisexual tell me that I'm confused; that I was really either gay or straight, but I hadn't figured out which. I get told that I don't know what I want.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth for me (as well as for most people that identify as bisexual) is that I know exactly what I'm attracted to. For me, there is no confusion; I am attracted to men and women.
  • Bisexuality is only a phase.
This myth can be more difficult to dispel than others as there are some that use the label bisexual as a transition of sorts in the process of coming out as gay. There are also others who are either gay or straight who are curious who may identify as bisexual or bi-curious while exploring sexuality.

While it is true that identifying as bisexual may be a phase for some, for the vast majority of bisexuals, it is as enduring a sexual orientation as it is for those that are gay or straight. Ever since I've recognized what sexual attractions are, I have felt them towards both men and women.
  • To be bisexual, a person must be attracted to both sexes equally.
This myth is similar to the myth that bisexuality does not exist, in that it tends to be believed by those that like to have things in neat boxes or categories.

It is true that there are bisexuals that are equally attracted to both sexes, but there are also many that have different degrees of attraction to each sex (such as myself). While some that fall in this category may choose to identify as either gay or straight, or may choose to only have relationships with one sex, not all do. For some (such as myself), identifying as gay would be denying their heterosexual attractions; and for others, identifying as straight would be denying their homosexual attractions.
  • Bisexuals are incapable of being faithful to one person in a relationship.
This is a stereotype that I've heard a lot as well. A number of people seem to be under the impression that because one is attracted to both men and women, that means they won't be satisfied unless having sexual relationships with both men and women.

People that believe this myth are often confusing bisexuality with polyamory. In reality, bisexuals are no different than gays or straights in the ability of forming lasting and faithful relationships. Bisexuals may also choose to be in open relationships, to be celibate, to be promiscuous, or to cheat on a partner, just as someone who is gay or straight may. A person's ability to be faithful in a relationship is not determined by their sexual orientation.
  • Bisexuals are more accepted by the straight/gay community.
I discussed this a little in my last post. I think what is closer to the truth is that bisexuals are often more easily able to pass as gay or straight in each respective community.

The vast majority of those in both the straight and gay communities have been accepting of me once they have found out that I am bisexual. But I have also had a number of those from each group that has been less welcoming of me, or has expressed one of the myths or stereotypes that has been discussed in this post.

Myths and stereotypes are not unique to bisexuals. Virtually every minority group that exists has its myths and stereotypes.

I am also sure that there are also other myths and stereotypes that I haven't discussed. If you know of or can think of any others, please share it in a comment to this post.

Be sure to come back in two weeks, when I will be discussing biphobia, which will be the third and final post in my series on bisexuality.

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