Sunday, May 3, 2015

Asking the Question: Am I Bisexual?

Bisexuals often have a difficult time coming out to themselves. One of the reasons for that is that there is so much misinformation about what being bisexual even means. If a bisexual listens to the all myths spread by non-bisexuals about what constitutes bisexuality, they tend to become one of the myths – confused.
Many straight and gay people say we don’t exist, but even those who do recognize that bisexuality is a legitimate sexual identity will say things such as: “A person can only claim they are bisexual if they’ve pretty much had exactly the same amount of male and female sexual partners,” or “You have to be currently involved with someone of each gender, or at least want to be simultaneously involved with someone of each gender, if you are bisexual,” or “Only people who have had serious relationships with both men and women can say they are bisexual,” or, “Only people who have had lots of sex with multiple partners of multiple genders are truly bisexual” or “A bisexual must be exactly equally attracted to men and women, otherwise they are really gay or straight.
Meanwhile, many of those who identify as pansexual say you cannot identify as bisexual if you are attracted to transgender, or intersex, or genderqueer, people.
Trying to fit the parameters that non-bisexuals have imposed on our identity, is like listening to someone from another continent saying that in order to say you are an American you have to be born on American soil, with parents who were born in America, and you have to love Coca-Cola, apple-pie, baseball, and wear a cowboy hat and own at least one gun.
It's no wonder that often coming to terms with a bisexual identity gets caught in a seemingly endless cycle of questioning. 
Those of us who have accepted a bisexual identity know that our sexual orientation is not as restrictive nor convoluted as so many have been misled to believe. Bisexuals tend to simply describe their identity as “attracted to more than one gender,” or “attracted to same and different genders.”
BiNet USA similarly explains that being bisexual means: “that you were born with the capacity to be attracted to people regardless of someone's sexual or gender identity.”
Longtime bi-activist/bi-educator Robin Ochs explains bisexuality this way: “I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
As the U.K. based Bisexual Index explains, it’s really not complicated:
“If you're asking yourself "Am I Bisexual?" then here's a handy checklist:
Thinking about the people you've been attracted to, so far in your life, were they all of the same gender?

If you answered "No," to any or all of the questions in our list above then we feel it's okay for you to call yourself bisexual. We don't care how attracted you are to the genders around you - you're bisexual as soon as you stop being exclusively attracted to only one sex.”

This was originally published in a slightly different form in my April BiAngle Column in The Gayly