Recently, I came out as bisexual (surprise, Mom!) and was met with entirely positive reactions from everyone I told. However, before coming out I was terrified of telling people. I’ve heard bisexuals being totally discounted, and with rampant bi erasure and biphobia in media, spewed by people I know online and in real life, it’s no wonder I was freaked. So, here’s a list of myths that are as false as can be regarding bisexuality and pansexuality. Let’s learn about the B in LGBTQIAP+!
1. Myth: Bisexuality doesn’t exist; people can only be monosexual.
Debunked: If someone can only be gay or straight, that only accounts for there being 2 genders. Now some might be saying, ‘Well, there are only two!’ No, what those of you who believe that are thinking of is sex, and even still, there are 3 biological sexes (female, male and intersex, which itself includes a range of different physiologies). Gender, in fact, is widely considered to be a spectrum, entirely fluid in nature. So what about people who aren’t simply men or women, but something in between, or even something else altogether? They might be monosexual, but the words ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ don’t really apply to them. While bisexuality is sometimes used as a stepping stone in the process of coming to find out that one is actually gay or lesbian, research funded by AIB (the American Institute of Bisexuality) and at universities such as Cornell and Northwestern indicates that bisexuality is very real and potentially even more common than homosexuality.
2. Myth: Claiming to be bisexual or pansexual is just something people say to excuse sluttiness.
Debunked: First, let’s look at the logic of that. The word ‘claim’ implies that people who say they’re bi or pan are lying, and as we saw with the first myth, that is likely not the case. In addition, if someone is truly monosexual, then why would they be hooking up with people of various other genders that they aren’t attracted to? Second of all, personal experience and research alike suggest that it simply isn’t true. For example, as a bisexual, I have only ever had a boyfriend, though I experience being attracted to females more often than males. I have a friend who is bisexual, though she mainly prefers women, who has never gone past first base with a girl, and only has had sex with guys. I have a pansexual friend who has no intention of getting married or even being in a committed, long-term relationship because she wants to focus on her career. In terms of hard research, this article by The New York Times mentions several studies that indicate that people are perfectly capable of being aroused by more than one gender.
3. Myth: If you’re bisexual, you can only be attracted to two genders.
Debunked: Yes, we all know that ‘bi’ means two. However, the generally accepted definition of bisexuality is being attracted to two or more genders. According the the American Psychological Association, “sexual orientation falls along a continuum. In other words, someone does not have to be exclusively homosexual or heterosexual, but can feel varying degrees of both. Sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime–different people realize at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual.” Tumblr user Fandomsandfeminism even made a a post that can be found here with the definition and various other resources.
4. Myth: Bisexuality and pansexuality are the same thing.
Debunked: Nope! Again, I have to reference the work of the popular Tumblr user and social justice blogger Fandomsandfeminism, who also made this really nifty slideshow explaining the differences between the two. To summarize it, bisexuals find different things about different genders attractive, whereas pansexuals are attracted to people regardless of gender, often saying gender is unimportant to them and that they are attracted to personalities rather than physical appearances. Really, this one just comes down to the definitions, as defined by people who identify as these two sexualities.
5. Myth: Bisexual people are just confused.
Debunked: This one also comes in the form of, ‘You’re too young to know what you really want.’ It’s total BS. Clive Davis is bisexual, and he’s well past the age of retirement. I myself was more confused when I was identifying as straight but felt attracted to people other than guys than I do now that I identify as bisexual. This is the case with many bisexuals, and even other LGBTQIAP+ people; we’re confused when we’re supposed to be heterosexual but aren’t really feeling very straight, but once we acknowledge our sexual identity, things become a lot less fuzzy.
So, as you can see, bisexuals are as real as can be, and these myths are basically unicorns, they’re so untrue. So, next time someone tells you they’re bi, definitely DON’T bring up any of these offensive myths as facts.
This post was originally published July 8, 2014