It’s 2020 and people are becoming more and more accepting of the LGBTQ2+ community. However, when people talk about bisexuality, it’s clear that there’s still a long way to go. In case you didn’t know, bisexuality is when a person is attracted to both men and women, or more broadly, to more than one gender.
Now while I had a couple of crushes on girls before university, I didn’t come out as bi until the end of my first year at Western University. For a long time, I internalized this myth that bisexuality wasn’t real and the feelings I had for women were just a phase of experimentation. However, after lots of soul searching, I finally realized that I could see myself having a future with a man or a woman. I have been out for a little while now and while most of my friends and family are accepting, I still occasionally hear people say some hurtful or just plain ignorant stuff to me about my sexual orientation that stems from harmful myths. As a result of this, let me educate you on five myths about bisexuality and why you need to stop believing them.
Myth 1: We’re just experimenting
Now don’t get me wrong, sexuality is fluid and many people are curious and want to experiment. That’s okay, try new things if you’re curious. However, what’s not okay is people thinking that bi people, especially bi women, are just going through a phase of fun and experimentation but are really just straight. This belief that bisexuals are just experimenting perpetuates this idea of bi erasure, the notion that bisexuality is questioned, denied or ignored. We even have this joke in the community that bi people are unicorns: magical and apparently nonexistent. In all seriousness though, bisexuality is not a phase — it’s a real and valid sexual orientation. A study even showed that 92 per cent of people who identified as bisexual still identified as bi 10 years later. That doesn’t sound like a phase to me.
Myth 2: We all want threesomes
There’s often this idea seen in the media that as bisexuals are attracted to several genders, they are all always down for a threesome. Believe me this myth still exists, just ask me for coffee sometime and I’ll tell you all about the people who have trolled me on Tinder for a threesome. In actuality though, this idea that every bi person wants to have sex with you and your boyfriend/girlfriend just isn’t true. While I have met a couple of bisexuals who enjoy group sex, I as well as many other bi people prefer monogamous sex. There’s nothing wrong with group sex, but the idea that all bisexuals want to have threesomes all the time perpetuates the fetishization and hyper-sexualization of bisexual people.
Myth 3: We’re promiscuous and will cheat on you.
I think this myth stems from movies and TV shows where bi characters in the past would often cheat on their partners. No matter where this idea comes from though, many people are reluctant, or simply refuse, to date bi people because they are scared that their bisexual partner needs to be in multiple relationships or will eventually cheat on them. The reality though is that bisexuals are not manipulative and deceitful people and often enjoy being in loving, committed relationships with one person, just as others would. Bisexuality just means that you’re attracted to multiple genders, it has nothing to do with how you date or what kinds of relationships you have.
Myth 4: Bisexuality is just a stop before coming out as gay.
While there are some people who identify as bi before coming out as gay, by saying that all bi people, especially bisexual men, are confused and are just going through a phase before coming out as gay implies this idea that bisexuality isn’t a real sexual orientation. Plus, people often have the tendency to suggest that once you’re in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, then you’re actually straight, or if you’re in a relationship with someone of the same sex, then you’ve come out as gay. Both of these things are wrong though, you are still bi no matter who you’re dating. Bisexuality isn’t a phase and it’s just as valid as all other sexual orientations.
Myth 5: People who are bisexual always identify as 50/50
While many people believe that bisexuals are equally attracted to men and women (aka 50/50), the fact is that this isn’t true. Bisexuality is different for every person and even though some people may be equally attracted to two genders, most bi people are preferentially attracted to one. Despite questions people tend to ask questions like “how many men and women have you been with?” or “do you check out guys or girls first?," how much you are attracted to each gender doesn’t really matter. In fact, sexuality is such a fluid thing that one day you may feel 85 per cent attracted to men and the next day you may feel 65 per ent attracted to women. Either way, no matter the proportion of attraction you have, your feelings are valid all the same.
The bottom line
Although these five myths about bisexuality are very prevalent in today’s society, it’s crucial that we start rejecting these hurtful ideas. Because the truth is that these five harmful myths about bisexuality perpetuate this idea that bi people don’t exist. These hurtful myths contribute to bi erasure and biphobia which has led to lots of health problems for the bisexual community. Studies have shown that bisexuals have higher rates of anxiety, depression and even suicidal tendencies than straight or gay people. A big part of this problem is that we often do not feel like we belong in the straight or queer community and therefore often feel like we cannot get the help we need. The truth is that while there are some awesome parts about being bisexual, it’s clear that there’s need to be more awareness and understanding around this sexual orientation. There’s more awareness in today’s society, but it’s clear we still have a long way to go.
— Anika In’t Hout, third year media, information and technoculture and creative writing