12/09/2013 09:00 am ET

Why Should Fluid Sexuality Be Women-Only?

Michael Heffernan via Getty Images

By now, there’s an established celebrity “coming out” narrative. You sit down with a morning talk-show host or write a blog post saying that you’re in love with someone who shares your gender. Your true fans profess their continued devotion, LGBT rights groups and opinion writers applaud you, and while you’ll get some hate mail, most people are relieved to finally have you “figured out” — especially if your sexuality has been the subject of tabloid speculation.

This doesn't quite apply, however, when you reveal you’re dating a man but insist you’re still attracted to women. “Of course I still fancy girls,” said British diver Tom Daley last week. “But, I mean, right now I’m dating a guy and I couldn’t be happier.” There were some standard-issue homophobic reactions (which Buzzfeed and HuffPost obligingly collected), but Daley also elicited a more specific sort of disapproval from certain fans — biphobia, the Advocate called it. These were the people who assumed Daley was gay but unable to fully admit it, or unwilling to relinquish the privileges of being straight. He was called greedy and accused of trying to have it all. (Which is baffling. It’s not as if he’s dating six people at once.) By contrast, a few days before Daley’s announcement, actress Maria Bello published an op-ed revealing she was in love with a woman after years of dating (and marrying) men. While the headlines were conflicted — some said she’d come out as gay, other said she was bi — her son summed it up best: “Mom, love is love, whatever you are.” The idea of a woman being legitimately attracted to both men and other women was heartwarming rather than confusing.

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