Although incorrectly, sexuality is often viewed as a spectrum, ranging from hetero- to homosexuality. While it is far more complicated than that (a topic I plan to argue with in the future), bisexuality is seen as falling between the two extremes. Even this assumption is problematic, and far more complicated than the simplistic notions we place upon it. Here, I plan to dispel a myth or two regarding this sexuality, drawing from my experiences and observations.
First, like all sexualities, not all bisexuals are the same! Though it is an improper analogy, if you choose to think of bisexuality on a spectrum, try instead to think of it like a gas gauge in your car. If you have a full tank of gas, you consider it full; if it’s empty, it’s empty. In sexuality, homo- and heterosexuality lie on opposite sides of the gauge. If your tank is neither full nor empty, do you consider it half-full? What if you have a quarter of a tank? Or three-quarters? Bisexuality exists in this middle ground, but to consider it halfway between homosexuality and heterosexuality is the same as saying you have half a tank of gas when you really only have an eighth.
So, now that we have this idea that bisexuality is not a perfect mash-up of these two sexualities, then what is it? Bisexuality, as I see it, is an attraction to both males and females to varying degrees, regardless of the standards of hetero- and homonormativity. The “varying” part of my definition is the important part. Someone may find females more attractive than males, or vice versa. “Perfect” 50-50 splits in bisexuality, the sort I subscribe to, are actually rather rare. Bisexuals are bisexual, no matter what their preference is, nor where it develops.
This attraction can shift. Just like preferences in bed, bisexuality can vacillate along the spectrum. For some it may remain along a particular range, but a person’s bisexuality does not become void if they choose a same-sex partner or a partner of the opposite sex or gender. Bisexuality can also treat an individual based on their sex and/or their gender. Perhaps an individual finds femininity or masculinity attractive, rather than the physical nature of the person who subscribes to either of these traits. For me, this complicates things and inspires my next blog post, but we’ll get to that later.
Partners do not define either person’s sexuality. Often my bisexuality is called into question because of my partner, my wife. Immediately, I am coupled into the circle of heterosexuality, but that is not accurate. My bisexuality has not changed because I chose a partner of the opposite sex. If I chose a partner who was the same sex as my own, would I be considered homosexual? The likely answer is yes. Bisexuality is its own unique sexuality, and to compare it to either end of the supposed spectrum is not fair to it as a whole.
Bisexuality is not an excuse to run the gambit in sexual partners, as well. This sexuality is not to be linked with polygamy, which is another topic altogether, and polygamy is not to be confused with being “loose” or “whoring oneself out.” However, all of these things are lumped together in the assumptions posed onto bisexuality. Many bisexuals are monogamous, and polygamy should not imply that there is not romance or pure sexual attraction playing between more than two partners. I’d love to delve into the ideas behind polygamy in the future. For now, know that bisexuality does not imply the want of an individual to have sex with any and everything that moves.
Assumptions are the poison of many topics we discuss in this field. Assuming a bisexual individual is instinctively 50-50 is unfair; assuming that the partner of a bisexual individual defines their future sexuality is not fair; a “sexual spectrum” is not fair. Just like it is proper to ask a transperson what their preference in pronouns is, it is polite, if you are not sure, to ask a bisexual individual, if you feel comfortable doing so, just what bisexuality means to them. Since they have taken up the label, it means something to them, and they are free to define it however they choose.
For me, bisexuality may be falling out of favor, for a few reasons. Stay tuned for my next article: Pansexuality.