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Bisexual in a Gay/Straight World

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We've all heard the stereotypes: indecisive, confused, wanting the best of both worlds, promiscuous, gay or lesbian in transition, engaging in a fad, seeking attention. If you identify as "bisexual," you've likely encountered at least a few of these clichés during and after your coming out process. I know I have. Despite the slew of us out there attempting to dispel such myths on a daily basis, they continue to be perpetuated, and they continue to make life difficult for us all.

The truth is that it can be more of a hardship to be bisexual than gay or lesbian in this world we live in, a world of black and white, this or that. When you aren't one way or another but straddling the line, life can be fraught with problems, both external and internal, that homosexuals and heterosexuals do not encounter.

'Bisexuals Are Just Unable to Choose'

It always boggles my mind when I encounter people, particularly within the LGBT community, who believe bisexuals simply have not "chosen" one sex/gender or the other to be attracted to. The LGBT community is constantly battling the nature-vs.-nurture debate, coming up against those who believe homosexuality is a sin and a choice. If it isn't a choice for gays and lesbians, why would anyone think it was a choice for bisexuals? The same rules apply.

Cynthia Nixon got a lot of flak for using the word "choice" to describe her relationship with a woman. Though she qualified it by saying that she did not "choose" to be bisexual but simply to enter into her current homosexual relationship, I'd challenge that concept by saying that none of us "choose" whom we are attracted to -- gay, straight, or bisexual. We have no control over attraction. Cynthia no more chose to be attracted to the man she was with for a decade and a half than she chose to be with the woman she is now going to marry.

Although some may still see bisexuality as wanting the best of both sexes, the truth is that more often than not, bisexuals date one person of one sex/gender at a time.

'Bisexuals Can't Be Monogamous'

Many if not all of us who are bisexual have likely been presented with the claim that we cannot possibly be monogamous if we are attracted to more than one sex/gender. One past employer of mine even had the gall to ask me if I "thought about sex more than other people" because I was bi. I know there are times when people we are attracted to choose not to date us because we identify as bisexual, believing incorrectly that we are more likely to cheat on them. While I can't speak for everyone, from my own perspective I'd say that the fact that someone might be attracted to more than one gender doesn't mean they will want to be in more than one relationship or be sexual with more than one person at one time. Sure, there are polyamorous individuals who do have multiple relationships at once, but many who identify as bisexual want to be in a loving relationship with one person at a time. Being bisexual does not automatically equal promiscuity or the need/want for multiple partners at any given time.

'Bisexuals Are Just in Transition'

This may be one stereotype that male bisexuals deal with more than females, but it is almost a certainty that if you identify as bi, someone in your life will comment that "maybe you are really gay/lesbian and you don't know it yet." It is also likely that the reverse will occur: "Maybe you're just experimenting and you're really straight" -- you know, that whole "going through a phase" argument. For some, it may be true that a transition or phase is occurring, but for most who identify as bisexual and maintain that identity, it is not, and for such people it can be very insulting to hear these lines of reasoning time and time again.

'Bisexuals Are Just Following a Trend'

"LUG" and "GUG" are typical acronyms that many college-aged men and women hear, translating to "Lesbian Until Graduation" or "Gay Until Graduation," respectively. These days, it is almost considered "cool" to be "bicurious" at some point in your life, mostly for women in college, who are encouraged to make out for the amusement and excitement of the heterosexual men around them. While sexual experimentation should be encouraged, in my opinion these representations are harmful to actual bisexuals. For us, it's no fad, and we aren't participating in bisexual behavior for the attention of others; it's our lives.

We're Here, We're Queer...

When all is said and done, bisexuals exist, no matter whom we may or may not be in a relationship with at any particular point. We are just as much a part of the LGBT community as the Ls, Gs, and Ts, and to not acknowledge us as such is denying an important aspect of our identities and an important component of the community as a whole.