Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Diversity Lesson 101: Bisexuality

Bisexuality is a sexual orientation that is often misunderstood, bisexuals are a segment of the population that face unnecessary discrimination from both the straight and gay communities because this community treads the line on sexuality.

Definition: Bisexuality is a sexual orientation whereby a person can have physical/emotional attraction towards both males and females.

There are varying degrees of bisexuality, again like all sexual identity, bisexuality lies on a continuum and some bisexuals will be predominantly attracted to one sex while others find their level of attraction is closer to an equal level for both.

What is Biphobia? Unfortunately this is very common among the gay and straight communities who often misunderstand and fear bisexuality. Biphobia is a fear and condemnation of bisexuality and people of the orientation. Common biphobic assumptions are that people who are bisexual are "confused", "selfish", "hedonistic", "promiscuous". Many people are under the false impression that bisexuals cannot remain monogamous, and that they date multiple partners and cannot remain faithful.

How common is Bisexuality? This is a hard one to answer, sexual identity is fluid and lies on a continuum, a large percentage of people regardless of whether they identify as gay/straight have had some degree of same-sex or opposite attraction and this fact would mean they are bisexual to a degree. People who find that their bisexuality is more evident or lifelong consistent make up between 3-5% of the general population. Bisexuality is also common in the animal kingdom with many species exhibiting bisexual behavior and some where the entire species are bisexual such as the binobo monkeys.

Symbols of Bisexuality: The Bisexual pride flag has a deep pink stripe at the top for homosexuality, a blue one on the bottom for heterosexuality, and a purple blend of the pink and blue colors to represent bisexuality. Other symbols include a pink and blue triangle that overlap creating a purple triangle at its intersection. Another popular symbol is the double moon representing mars and venus and showing bisexuals are open to both sexes.

Recommended Books on Bisexuality:

Bi Any Other Name:Bisexual People Speak Out by Loraine Hutchins, Editor & Lani Ka'ahumanu

Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World by Robyn Ochs, Editor & Sarah Rowley

The Bisexual Option by Fritz Klein, MD

Bi Men : Coming Out Every Which Way by Ron Suresha and Pete Chvany

Bi America : Myths, Truths, And Struggles Of An Invisible Community by William E. Burleson

Bisexuality in the United States : A Social Science Reader by Paula C. Rodriguez Rust

Bisexuality : The Psychology and Politics of an Invisible Minority by Beth A. Firestein

Current Research on Bisexuality by Ronald C. Fox PhD

Bisexual Websites/Resources:

American Institute of Bisexuality


Bi Resource

Bi Magazine

Some Video's on Bisexuality:


Unknown said...

I would also recommend The Kinsey Report to read scientific evidence discussing surveys of bisexual persons and their experiences. Bisexuality is far more common than anyone would expect, particularly in our puritanical society.

Queers United said...

Well, I think Kinsey was brilliant for his time in understand that sexuality lies on a continuum, his stats on sexuality are likely inaccurate. Most of his research was conducted in gay bars, prisons, places where same-sex behavior was more frequent, so the 10% figure among others is likely too high.

Unknown said...

One thing that tends to harm the bisexual community is that gays and lesbians who are unsure of their sexuality, or fear giving up the perks and approval that comes with heterosexuality often identify as bisexual first. I apologize, but I was totally guitly of this. I really did convince myself I was bi even though I had zero interest in women. So unfortunately, people who have been like me, tend to add fuel to some of the stereotypes about bisexuals being confused.

Another thing to mention is that a bisexuals interest in men or women may shift over time. These bisexuals may have a hard time being accepted or even talking about their lives because of the tendency of people to think you're either gay or you're straight, and that bi means a static, 50/50 attraction to both sexes, when in actuality none of that is true for most people.

Queers United said...

True, I think that perpetuates the stereotype. But so does gay people or straight people discovering they are bi or coming out, proves the uncertainty and the fluidity of sexual orientation period reegardless of gay, straight, or bisexual.

Anonymous said...

Is there such a thing as a asexual bi?

Queers United said...

yes asexuals can be bi and seek romantic relationships with more than just one gender.

Queers United said...

Just bumping this thread since I posted it in August and many people probably haven't read it.

Emma said...

Thanks for bumping this! I wrote a paper this semester on bi women in the media and which media images of bi women help perpetuate negative stereotypes (i.e., Tila Tequila and Katy Perry).
Another great book is the Bisexual Resource Guide, edited by Robin Ochs. I also really like Bisexual Characters in Film: From Anais to Zee by Wayne M. Bryant and The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski.

Queers United said...

Emma thanks, yeah Tila is an interesting representation of bisexuality on reality tv, on one hand it's great on the other hand it reinforces a lot of bs about the orientation.

I am gonna check out the Bi Resource Guide, it sounds interesting, thanks for recommending it.

Emma said...

Yeah, I have a love/hate relationship with that show... lol.
The Bi Resource Guide is put out by the Bisexual Resource Center. It has a lot of articles about bi issues, lists of bi fiction and nonfiction, and a listing of bi organizations around the world. I found a cheap used copy on Amazon, it's definitely worth it.

Queers United said...

What do you make of the "Double Shot at Love" with the Ikki twins. Sure, it is possible that identical twins have the same orientation, as a matter of fact I think it is a 40% chance. But this is MTV, and a world of publicity, so I am watching with a skeptical eye.

Anonymous said...

Jason: I don't think that's necessarily true. If a man who identifies as straight starts to question his sexuality, and determines that he is gay or bi, nobody would say that his previous identity had anything to do with his questioning. The assumption is that all straight people are straight forever, and that all bi people change their preferences on a whim all the time.

QU: I'm very torn on Double Shot at Love. I'd like to believe that the show helps represent people of varying sexualities in the media, but it probably really exists because of the fetishization of bisexual and lesbian women. If the show were about a bisexual man it'd never make it to air.

Anonymous said...

Another nasty stereotype we get from gays and lesbians is that we will always inevitably give up same-gender relationships and marry heterosexually because it's "easier." I hear that one a lot from lesbians who are under the impression that all bi women end up marrying men.

Laurie said...

Thank you Honey....This makes me feel

After a lifetime of living the 'straight' life
my heart is in so much pain....

I talk about needing a girlfriend...Not just
any woman but the right one for me...Not a one
night stand hottub makeout...I need a real
commitment....With Ms. Right.....

I'm thankful to have found a group of people
who understand and accept me....


Emma said...

I agree with L on A Shot at Love. Increased visibility is good, but bisexuality is used as a gimmick on the show. It supports bi stereotypes like the idea that bisexuals are promiscuous and indecisive, and it definitely plays into the fetish a lot of straight men have for bi women. The new season brings a whole new dimension to that, playing into the twins fetish. It'll be interesting to see if there's any incest on the show, though honestly, I'll be surprised if there's not.

The redeeming thing for me about the first season of A Shot at Love is that, while Tila Tequila started out the season saying she was doing the show to try and "choose" whether she wanted to be with men or women, she ended up saying "love has no gender." I also like that Dani was given a fair chance on the show despite not being a femme, which would probably have been more marketable to a straight audience.

Queers United said...

Yeah I agree with you both L and Emma, I think this show is less about promoting acceptance of bisexuality and more on capitalizing on the fetishism of female bisexuals, and twins. It is like a straight male fantasy show. The question is though, is some publicity even if negative good publicity? Bisexuality, rarely gets discussed and here is an opportunity to discuss it, so hopefully people can talk about it with the understanding that this show is fun and not representative of the average bi person.

Anonymous said...

Bisexual is also a term used to mask pansexuals or people who feel they are interconnected with the male & female gender and are sexually attracted to both...I'm bisexual in every sense of the word... :)

Anonymous said...

Bisexuality shouldn't be promoted as crass entertainment. That's why shows like A Double Shot of Love is so silly. Actually it makes fun of bisexuality if you want my honest opinion. Anyways, it is possible to have sexual/emotional interest in both men and women and it's also possible that you can have sexual interest in one sex while having an emotional interest in the other, it just depends on how you react to it. Me personally, I feel being bisexual has to do with your makeup, it's like being born gay or being born straight, lol. It's just sad how bisexuality has been used as a public joke for people's enjoyment and ignorant folks' entertainment.

Anonymous said...

i agree with L in the sense that MTV is just trying to cash in on the latest fad. Girls around the world suddenly think its cool to be "bi" even though we all know in the end the marry a man. It would be real tv if it was bi guys. Thats something worth watching. Not to mention A Shot at Love and Double Shot at Love are so rigged and fake it takes away from the expierience. The first time around was one thing but they just repeat the same gimmicks now. Like Paul(i think) getting hurt after standing on a post for an hour...booo hooo. But somehow he magically was seriously injured and required an ambulence to check him out. He got ice on his arm to make it better. To bad he was limping back to the house. Like seriously come onn.

Mewi said...

Generally it doesn't matter to me if someone is bisexual or not heck my girlfriend is bisexual XD. However there seems to be a common way of thinking from the bisexual group, ( well from my experience )

Which I think they have trouble understanding how people can be attracted to only one gender. Sometimes often enough I hear comments like "stop labeling yourself" or something of similarity regarding "labels" pretty much degrading me because I call myself a lesbian.

I think it's harder for them to understand why it is needed... anyone else experiencing this X.X

Lulu said...

thank you so much for posting this!

Dylan said...

This was really helpful...ughh, you know, to a christian family such as my own, bisexuality is sort of worse than gay... my parents hate me for it, but hey...what can ya do? Thanks for this article. :)

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