Top Myths About Bisexuality
The nature of bisexuality is easily misunderstood by both gays and straight people. The concept that someone could be attracted to both men and women can seem confusing, especially within cultural models that classify sexuality as either one or the other.
The middle voids the entire concept of sexuality as being fluid instead of learned or defined. Some people use their misunderstanding of the concept of bisexuality to label themselves bi when, in fact, they’re in the process of accepting another form of sexuality. These issues can lead to misconceptions about the validity of bisexuality and, in turn, the devaluation of bisexual people.
Myths About Bisexuality
By definition, a bisexual individual is someone who is sexually attracted to both men and women. That said, let’s look at some myths commonly associated with bisexuality.
Bisexuality Is Only a Phase
Many bisexual people feel limited by the thought of being attracted to only a man or a woman. Their attractions to an individual, both physical and emotional, take precedence over their need to partner with just men or women. Discovering one’s bisexuality happens by the same process as coming out in any other form of sexuality.
Bisexual experiences may happen for people who are discovering their sexuality, even though they’re not bisexual. So, it’s common to view the experiences of actual bisexual people as just a phase.
Bisexual People Are Just Confused
Bisexual people embody the true nature of fluid sexuality. This isn’t to say that they “sway” back and forth, but that there are varying degrees of bisexuality. Some bisexual men “lean straight,” meaning that they prefer a member of the opposite sex but same-sex partners are an option.
Others “lean gay,” meaning they prefer the same sex but are open to partners of the opposite sex. Their preferences are no more a choice than those of straight, gay, or asexual people.
Bisexuals Are Promiscuous
Twice the options, twice the fun, some may think – a perception that often places bisexuality as a synonym of promiscuity. However, the process of finding a partner for dating, sex, or a relationship is the same for bisexual individuals as it is for others. The number of viable partners does not make an individual any more or less promiscuous.
Whether he’s bisexual or not, each individual conducts his dating life based on his personal standards, whatever they may be.
Bisexuals Prefer Men and Women Equally
This goes hand-in-hand with the myths that bisexual men are confused and promiscuous, and that they sway back and forth between male and female partners. In fact, the opposite is true.
Research indicates that most bisexuals prefer one gender over the other. The number of men compared to women whom a bisexual has been involved with has no bearing whatsoever on his or her sexual orientation. A bisexual finds something appealing about both genders.
Defining Bi-Curiosity and More About the Sexuality Spectrum
Gay, straight, bi, or other—there are many ways to define your sexuality
There is never a right or wrong time to question our sexuality. There are many terms floating around, especially today when more parts of the sexuality spectrum are seeing positive representation in media.
The phrase “bi-curious” refers to people who are interested in having a same-gender sexual experience without necessarily labeling their sexual orientation as bisexual. Being bisexual or bi-curious is perfectly normal. Dr. Alfred Kinsey made strides in understanding sexuality in the 1940s, and along with a team of researchers, he developed the Kinsey Scale, which is used to determine where one falls in the sexuality binary. Someone who is completely straight is a zero; a six would be considered completely homosexual. It is entirely possible to feel like you are a one (predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual) or a five (predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual) or anywhere in between.
There are women who thought they were lesbians who suddenly found themselves confused and attracted to a man. Additionally, there are women who thought they were straight, and then found themselves confused and attracted to another woman down the road. Women who get tangled up in these situations often don’t know how to label themselves, and saying that they’re bi-curious is a way to tie it all together.
What It Means to Be “Bi-Curious”
People with an interest in bisexuality, or suspect that they may be bisexual themselves, are often considered bi-curious. Usually, this is a stage where someone is unsure of their sexuality and does not classify themselves as bisexual, but calls themselves bi-curious as a way to explore their curiosity around their possible bisexuality, change in sexual orientation, and otherwise attraction to the same gender.
Someone can be bi-curious unwillingly or willingly. Perhaps there is an intense or mild attraction to the same sex that is wanted or unwanted. The attraction could be for the purpose of sexual pleasure or pure experimentation and self-discovery. One might label themselves bi-curious if they wonder about what it’s like to have sex (or other intimate experiences) with another woman, even if they are married, have a partner, or consider themselves straight or gay.
Bi-curiosity can come about at any age and stage of life. It’s more common than one might think to experience arousal by the same sex, and the curiosity may not translate to real experience but could lend itself to thoughts, visions, and/or daydreams about exploring someone of the same sex intimately. Terms that are similar to bi-curiosity include heteroflexible and homoflexible, but many people associate these specifically with a desire to experiment with someone sexually.
Bi-Curiosity in Pop Culture
The pop singer Katy Perry is famous for one of her earlier songs, “I Kissed a Girl,” which is now known as something of a bi-curious anthem. In it, she sings, “I kissed a girl just to try it. I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it. I kissed a girl and I liked it.” This song caused a bit of a stir, both from those who applauded the singers’ candid discussion of this subject, as well as from those who felt Perry trivialized same-sex experiences and turned them into something simply designed to titillate.
There is also a phenomenon of bisexual erasure, where the media dismisses someone’s bi-curiosity as a simple quirk or vain interest. Bisexual erasure is most noticeable when someone questions another person’s experiences by assuming that they are not “normally” a sexual orientation—for example, when a presumed-straight man or lesbian has a sexual experience with a man. Some historical figures that have been victims of bisexual erasure include Freddie Mercury, James Dean, and Lou Reed.
Not everyone loves the term bi-curious, and some teens refer to themselves as “questioning” to describe what others might call bi-curious. This is normal, as many teens experience periods where they question their sexual orientation or have a curiosity about a same-sex sexual experience. A lot of these teens don’t identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual—and that’s perfectly fine. Figuring out one’s sexual orientation can be tricky, and sometimes the person we assume ourselves to be doesn’t always match the way we feel.
When one identifies as hetero, it can be unsettling to realize that you might not exclusively feel this way. However, researchers are learning that it’s more common than we may realize.
Most of us are familiar with the terms gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual (or straight) to describe sexual orientations. But more and more, people are realizing that these terms don’t actually capture everyone’s experience. As a result, we now hear more about the experience of being genderqueer, pansexual, or omnisexual.
In recent years, Cornell University Professor Ritch Savin-Williams and his graduate student Zhana Vragalova identified a new category which they are calling, “mostly heterosexual.” Mostly-heterosexuals are just that: people who are usually attracted to, and romantically and sexually involved with, the opposite gender. However, these people may also experience attraction to and romantic feelings for people of the same gender from time-to-time.
What It Boils Down To
Ultimately, how one defines themselves is a personal decision. However, it’s understandable that knowing that others feel the same way you do (or that what you are feeling is normal) is reassuring. Whether you call yourself straight or gay, mostly-heterosexual, bisexual or bi-curious, pansexual, or gayer-than-straight, it may be less important than feeling okay about who you are overall.