While the most common identity of the LGBTQIA+ population, bisexuality is the most forgotten and invisible. A study from Human Rights Campaign showed bisexual people face “minority stress,” common of stigmatized groups and have higher rates of self harm and attempted suicide that those who identify as gay, lesbian or heterosexual. Because it is so frequently misunderstood, many individuals do not come out or seek help. It’s important for us as a society to improve our understanding of bisexuality and our role in creating a safe space for individuals to express their sexuality.
Webster’s dictionary defines bisexual in the following way:
sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women.
Because sexuality is not linear, but a spectrum, bisexuality falls anywhere between heterosexuality and homosexuality. The bisexual activist Robyn Ochs defines bisexuality as “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.”1. Sigmund Freud believed that every human being is bisexual since we all exhibit attributes of both sexes.
Both males and females may identify as bisexual. They may ascribe to the binary of gender or not. And as with all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we are not talking about preferences or choices. We are talking about who people are.
While our brains seek the safety of binary thinking and our heteronormative society tells us this is just a confused person, this is not the case at all. A bisexual person is not an indecisive or promiscuous person nor an individual wanting to “cheat” on their partner. In fact, studies show the likelihood of infidelity is the exact same between heterosexual and bisexual individuals. Like most things in life, it depends on the individual.
There are many famous individuals who identify as bisexual- Angelina Jolie, David Bowie, Anna Paquin, Margaret Cho, Fergie, Leonard Bernstein, and on and on.
And not to be left out, bisexuality exists not only in the human species but also within the animal kingdom. Bonobo monkeys, orcas, bottlenose dolphins, humboldt penguins. black swans, chilean flamingoes, giraffes, and african lions all exhibit bisexual behavior. In some of these species, it’s not only present, it’s the norm.
It’s important we educate ourselves and our children about bisexuality and create a safe space for conversation about it. We can create a better space for everyone by learning inclusive language, asking people what terms they use to describe themselves, using language that acknowledges diversity within families and relationships and learning not to make assumptions about others’ relationships, sexuality or gender.
While it takes practice, being mindful of representation of diversity within your community and open to learning more about inclusion within your environments will make a big difference. While I will write more on these topics at a later time, I would encourage you to consider one step you could take today to improve your knowledge in this area.
Obviously, there is so very much more to this beautiful piece of the LGBTQIA+ rainbow but it’s a start. Please feel to reach out with questions and conversations. Let’s color our world.