Sex-Positivity – Self-Love – Starting the Revolution
This is the beginning of a periodic series of posts on identity labels and terms, which will try to both define and explore the language of self-identification in ways that will demystify and destigmatize it. Keep in mind when reading these posts that WYTWY does not speak for the whole world. So don’t take these definitions out into the real world and assume that everyone who identifies with a particular word feels the same way about their identity! Without further ado, let’s start demystifying…
Bisexual is simultaneously one of the most common, most recognized, and least understood sexual orientation labels. In the most basic sense, individuals who identify as bisexual recognize that they are attracted to more than one gender—in other words, they are not monosexual in any direction.
This identification can be confusing, and lots of bisexual people (myself included) have been repeatedly confronted with stereotypes about bisexual identity that may apply to some people, but are certainly irrelevant to others. A brief list of things that bisexual does not necessarily mean:
Bisexual individuals can identify with any of the characteristics above, but they can also identify with none of them. Some bisexual people are more attracted to one gender over another, and others are bisexual but are only interested in having relationships with members of one gender. Just like monosexual people, we can be monogamous or polyamorous, and we can be having lots of sex or none at all.
And then, to add to this list of relatively benevolent confusion regarding bisexuality, there’s a rampant wave of biphobia that runs through all communities, straight and queer.
For various reasons—the invisibility of bisexuality in predominantly gay- or straight-identified circles, the prevalence of female bisexuality in porn and pop culture, etc.—many clearly false (and often offensive) stereotypes about bisexual people have been circulated throughout mainstream society. Here’s a brief list of things bisexuality definitely doesn’t mean:
More confusion arises about bisexuality because of the variety of terms encompassed under the nonmonosexual label, such as pansexual, omnisexual, ambisexual, bicurious, trisexual, flexible, etc. These terms differ in subtle and complex ways from one another, but all of them share the important overarching characteristic of signifying that the individual in question is attracted to people of more than one gender. That’s what it comes down to, after all. Most simply, bisexual people just aren’t monosexual, and all other assumptions about their orientations are mere speculation and stereotype.