Jillian is married and is still exploring her own bisexual identity. She enjoys psychology and believes that every person is unique.
A Fresh Look At an Old Problem:
I’m not out. Not publicly. Not even to my family. The scariest part about being honest and open about who you are is the idea that you will not be accepted or supported, left out of the group to figure out your path alone. No one wants to feel like they’re unwanted, so our journeys can often feel like an ongoing process of self-understanding, figuring out where exactly we should fit in. But it seems like there is a certain group of us who consistently feel torn between two clubs that don’t see us as “full members”.
I’m bisexual. I thought the B in LGBT was for me, and though I am finally at the brink of feeling confident about openly admitting who I am, I still wonder about truly feeling included anywhere. Being somewhat of a newbie to the rainbow world of labels, I have begun to do some reading and a whole lot of listening.
What is surprising to me, is how misunderstood the bi community can be. To be uninformed or misinformed can lead to miscommunication and missed opportunities, so I’d love to clear up what I can for you. Of course, there are many welcoming, wonderful folks in the LBGTQIA+ community who have been kind and supportive, but there are definitely a portion who are not.
There are strange accusations all over the internet, myths to be debunked, etc. Yet, what is most concerning to me is that, in some circles, there is even a frustration or anger toward bi women in particular, which seems to come from a misunderstanding of what it means to be bisexual.
This disinterest and distrust toward the bisexual community as a whole is an all-too-familiar reminder of the same issues that straight people have had against the gay community. Even as the gay and lesbian population makes successful steps toward informing and redirecting the straight community’s understanding and acceptance of them, it seems like some folks are having a hard time doing the same for those who consider themselves bisexual.
I do not have the dating experience of others, and I don’t necessarily feel defensive, so I thought sharing my personal perspective might be insightful. It can’t hurt to at least try to find some objective understanding. Isn’t that the point?
Is Bisexuality Even Real?
It was quite surprising to me to learn that many lesbians, gay men, and straight people believe that bisexuality doesn’t even really exist! Some seem to think it is not possible to enjoy both genders of people.
To those, I offer this perspective: If it is currently acknowledged to be true that gender itself is on a spectrum, then shouldn’t it seem perfectly reasonable that sexual orientation is on a spectrum as well? If you have ever felt attracted to a very feminine female, but you’ve also been attracted to a more androgynous or genderqueer female as well, then isn’t that representative of your spectrum of preferences already?
In most cases, I have been attracted to a person without actually knowing if they have a penis, vagina, both, or somewhere in between. After all, how many of us are introduced to a new person while hanging out in the nude? If I notice an attractive person across the room, do I truly even know what their private parts look like? No. At first, I am simply attracted to their facial features, or body style, or the way they move, or the way they speak or conduct themselves.
I may not have a clue what gender they use to identify themselves, or what body parts they don, but it is the individual person who is attractive to me. I may or may not decide to pursue them after finding out more about them, their body, or their personality, but let’s be real: initial attraction rarely has to do with genitals.
You Must Be Lost
Common misconceptions about bisexuality also include the idea that bi women can’t make up their minds as to what they prefer, and they need to make a decision. I will confirm wholeheartedly that bisexuals are no more confused or indecisive than anyone else about their likes and preferences.
I can look at an individual and decide immediately whether or not I feel an attraction to him or her, even if it might not be as you expect. Sometimes a man’s physique turns me on, but I know I also LOVE a woman’s body. You cannot tell me I’m not into women. That’s impossible.
But being possibly attracted to either sex doesn’t mean I like all men the same or all women the same. Just as straight women can look at one guy and have zero feelings then pine over another, and a lesbian can see one woman with no attraction then melt at the thought of another, so do bisexuals have preferences within each gender.
Want to make things even more simple? What about the straight, young man who likes a blonde with big breasts but also likes a brunette with small ones? Should we give him a hard time about not narrowing down his preferences? I should hope not.
Double The Trouble
There seems to be two sides of lost opportunities when it comes to dating bisexual women. One: Some lesbians refuse to date bisexual women simply because they also have the capacity to enjoy a man. Two: Many people (both gay and straight) refuse to date bisexuals because they believe there is an inherently higher chance of that person cheating. Let’s break up both issues.
Don’t bisexual women like dick? Well, yes, sometimes. Personally, my individual and independent answer would be, “Usually not.” I have a man, and yes, I like his dick…because I love him. Yet, the idea of someone enjoying a man’s body disgusts some of my lesbian friends. In my opinion, this is simply an issue of a particular sexual activity or body style being a turn-on for some people, and for some, a turn-off. Again, most relationships don’t start with completely matching lists of sexual activity preferences, or even body type preferences.
My man loves large breasts, but guess what…I typically don’t. Also, mine are fairly small. Does that mean he and I cannot possibly be compatible or have a flourishing relationship? Absolutely not. In most relationships, there is at least one thing that one person enjoys while the other doesn't. This does not mean they can’t enjoy each other fully.
The second part of the anti-bi dating issue has to do with worrying about it being more likely that bisexuals cheat. But cheating has nothing to do with the “number of fish in your pond” and everything to do with whether you are committed to your partner.
Bisexuality is NOT the same thing as polyamory. And just because you have the capacity to enjoy more than one type of person does not mean you cannot keep your eyes on one at a time. Monogamy is still alive and well in the bisexual community as much as anywhere else.
This is hilarious to me. Do people really think bisexuals are trying to date all the women and all the men? I had no idea we were trying to take over the world! I’ll use a little math to disprove this. Don’t panic: there is no test at the end.
I probably am not attracted to a higher number of people than you. I don’t feel sexual urges with a higher percentage of people I meet, and my “pond” is not necessarily filled with any more “fish” than yours; they’re just more varied in type.
For example, you and I may both crush on 100 people in our lifetimes, but only 80% of mine may be women and 20% happen to be men, while 100% of yours have a vagina. Another bisexual woman may have different percentages. Maybe only 10% of people who are attractive to her happen to be women, and 90% are men. She is still capable of being attracted to either sex, so she is still considered bisexual.
As you can see, it’s not about having higher numbers of those who seem attractive to us, but rather a high variance within our preferences.
Coming Out of the Woodwork
It does seem like the number of openly bisexual women is skyrocketing. I haven’t run numbers (and I’m not going to), so I have no idea whether this is actually true, but I can totally see why some lesbians roll their eyes and groan when I tell them I’m bi, saying, “Oh great. Another one.”
Here’s a thought, though: In many ways my newfound self-acceptance should be a compliment and testament to the gay community’s success in its pursuit of acceptance and support for those who do not fit the heterosexual paradigm. This wonderful community has made headlines and overturned an entire world of stigmas simply by encouraging people to be themselves and teaching the masses to be kind to and lift judgement over those who are biologically different.
So if a bisexual woman who has felt odd, sinful, and alone in her thoughts for decades finally has the confidence to own her uniqueness, shouldn’t we cheer her on? Perhaps numbers are going up because not being heterosexual is more common we thought, and at last people are less afraid to own it.
What Can I Do?
All these misconceptions are way too prevalent, and they certainly put a damper on the encouragement that newbies need to feel free to be themselves. But, how do we change the conversation from rumor to truth?
I feel that bisexuals are partially responsible for increasing understanding, but I do encourage other members of the LGBTQIA+ community to ask questions rather than assuming anything particular about an individual.
I will definitely do my part to be helpfully informative while also trying not to be defensive. It does hurt to know that even in the LGBTQIA+ community there will always be individuals who refuse to be accepting. That’s okay. I can only be me, encouraging questions and answering them honestly. Then hopefully the growing global understanding will squash the discouraging remarks and rumors on a macro-scale. Until then, I do hope that people keep talking. Open, respectful communication can always help. You may never quite get it. That’s fine! Be nice anyway.
Help A Sister Out
Not gonna lie. I’m nervous. I want to engage in open, friendly conversation with women without feeling like they already hate me before they know me. I don’t want to join in someone else’s threesome, nor do I expect you to join mine. I don’t want to make out with every girl I see, and I certainly don’t intend on being a home wrecker. You don’t have to hold your woman (or man) tighter if you see me walk in the room.
I simply like different kinds of individuals for different reasons and hope that you don’t care enough to be rude about it. So, yes, ask questions! I love them. Meanwhile, I’ll keep smiling my way through the unknown. And if we lock eyes…yes, it’s real. Don’t second guess it.