Bisexuals Are The Most Reluctant To Discuss Orientation
Bisexuals make up a large percentage of the LGBTQ but are the most reluctant to discuss their orientation.
Despite what some may think, people can like dick just as much they like pussy. We’re here; we’re queer; get over it! Sexual identity is tremendously important, and yet a very prominent part of the LGBTQ community has been faced with hiding theirs. In 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported a startlingly low percentage of bisexuals were out of the closet to their close friends and family—28%, as opposed to 71% of lesbians and 77% of gay men, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Why are so many bisexual individuals reluctant to openly discuss their orientation?
Bisexuals are frequently bombarded with a variety of stereotypes, which range from dismissive to downright insulting. In 2005, The New York Times published an article entitled “Straight, Gay, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited.” The article discussed a recent study conducted by psychologists at Northwestern University in Chicago and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto which attempted to gauge the sexual responses of men based on their physiological reaction to porn. 101 young adult men were recruited, 33 of whom identified as bisexual, 30 as straight, and 38 as homosexual. The researchers asked the men about their sexual desires and rated them on a sexual orientation scale, ranging from 0-1 for heterosexuality, 5-6 for homosexuality, and somewhere in the middle for bisexuality. Then they used a sensor to monitor sexual arousal while the men watched both straight and gay porn. They discovered the men who described themselves as bisexual had physical reactions which conflicted with their ascribed sexuality: about three-quarters of the group had identical patterns to those of gay men and the rest were indistinguishable from those of straight men. While the article concluded that it was impossible to dismiss bisexuality based on such a small test group and that the study would have to be replicated on a larger scale, studies like this are indicative of a greater societal problem in which bisexuals are often dismissed or belittled based on their sexuality. In fact, the title of the article comes from a commonly attributed notion, particularly among gay men, that bisexual individuals are usually homosexual, but either ambivalent or closeted concerning their sexuality, or literally that “you’re either straight, gay, or lying.”
Ironically, three years later, The New York Times reported on the physiological sexual reactions of heterosexual women, wherein it was discovered that straight women were attracted to literally everyone boning, but were particularly turned on by women having sex with women. The study even showed they were attracted to images of bonobo chimps mating. Much like in the 2005 study, the women were hooked up to a device which monitored their sexual desire while watching video clips, but unlike the previous study, the conclusion wasn’t that these women were secretly all lesbians, or that they had a hidden desire to bone chimps. No, it was that women were fluid in their sexuality. However, Dr. Chivers, a research fellow at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto, who also helped author the 2005 study, stated in conclusion that “To conclude that women are bisexual on the basis of their sexual responding overlooks the complexity and multidimensionality of female sexuality.” If it feels dismissive and hypocritical, it’s because it is.
As the 21st century progresses and sexuality becomes understood both as an incredibly complex and fluid topic, misunderstandings are sure to arise. For the bisexual community, however, these misunderstandings have been prominent for awhile. Sexuality is not fixed, and is comprised of more than just the physical, often encompassing romantic, social, and emotional elements that are hard to study in labs. Bisexuality is defined as having an attraction to both men and women, but myths abound over what that means. Sigmund Freud and Dr. Alfred Kinsey ascribed to the belief that everyone is bisexual, but while many people find themselves attracted to someone of the same gender at some point in their lives, few go through an intense questioning period or redefine their sexuality in response. Yet another myth is that in order to be bisexual, you have to love both sexes equally, straight down the middle, and this is simply not the case. Sexuality is a spectrum, along which there is no cut-off point in which a person must now describe themselves as straight or gay. In fact, bisexuality is an inclusive term that also includes people who identify as pansexual, or not limited in sexual choice in regards to biological sex, gender, or gender identity; ambisexual, or a person with an ambiguous sexual orientation, but who is attracted to both males and females; and a host of other people who identify by similar or synonymous terms. Because bisexuality is so fluid, this leads to a whole slew of negative stereotypes.
One such stereotype is that bisexual individuals are indecisive or confused about their sexuality, and that they are merely “in transition” to becoming gay or a lesbian. Another common dismissive is that bisexuality is just a phase, or that bisexual women are attention whores who are merely hitting on women as a way to get attention from men, all of which is detrimental to sexual identity. Bisexuals are also often perceived as “greedy” because they “refuse to select” one gender over the other. As a branch-off of this train of thought, bisexuals are often thought to be promiscuous, regardless of whether they sleep around or not. Even being in a monogamous relationship can’t save a bisexual individual from the onslaught, as bisexuals are considered to be more likely to cheat, not based on any scientific data, but merely on the notion that bisexuals are never satisfied and always want the gender they’re not with. Which is also why bisexuals love threesomes—all of them, all the time, always! As can be imagined, this is exhausting and insulting. Much like with any other sexuality, individuals make individual decisions. Some people enjoy sleeping around; still others crave the love and stability that comes from a single partner. In addition, it must be noted that simply because a person is bisexual, that doesn’t mean they find every single person attractive. It’s an absurd notion, one that would never be assumed for people at opposing ends of the spectrum: “Are you attracted to every man ever?”
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Unfortunately, as a result of these stereotypes, bisexual individuals often end up feeling marginalized, even within the LGBTQ community. On the one hand, they don’t identify as straight, so the straight community tends to lump them in with the LGBTQ community as “confused or undercover homosexuals.” On the other hand, the LGBTQ community often rejects bisexuals for “having a pass” because they’re “half-straight,” and as thus don’t have to deal with as much oppression as gays or lesbians. The truth is that bisexuals, dealing with discrimination from both communities, wind up having to deal with more oppression as a result. There are even accounts of bisexuals who feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at pride events, particularly if they’re in attendance with a partner of the opposite sex. Bisexuals in a visible opposite-sex relationship have been called hateful slurs such as ‘breeders’ or ‘switcheroos,’ and sometimes find themselves pushed, prodded, and in other ways physically assaulted in the crowds. While these behaviors should not be considered indicative of the LGBTQ community as a whole, they do happen, and it’s a bit unbelievable considering that the community is supposed to promote love and triumph over adversity. Not to mention, the first “gay pride” was co-organized by Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman who has become known as the “Mother of Pride.”
Bisexuals make up half of the entire LGBTQ community, but often they wind up feeling like they have to pick one team or the other, hide who they are, or act on their best behavior in order to counteract the negative preconceptions. No other sexual group is more scrutinized for their behaviors, and that is a truly damaging way to treat anyone. Of course, by working together, and speaking loudly and proudly about our sexuality and our experiences, we can overcome these stereotypes and create a better perception of bisexuality. After all, we just want to love everyone, and for everyone to love us in return.
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