As an out and fairly open bisexual (and by “open” I mean “I’m bad with filters and boundaries”), I like to think of myself as a sort of self-appointed ambassador for gay/straight-bisexual relations.
I have fielded every question in the book, from those who were genuinely filled with innocent curiosity to those who thought asking me to describe my sexual habits was a smooth way to get me into bed, and I usually enjoy answering those questions because I think education is important.
Tip number one, those of you who fall to one end of the Kinsey scale: if the question sounds silly when you turn it on yourself, it sounds silly to us. For instance:
Don’t ask any variation on the following question: “So say a hot guy and an equally hot girl were walking down the street… Who would you choose?” after I’ve just told you that I’m equally attracted to both men and women.
First of all, this is HIGHLY unoriginal, you guys. I think every time I’ve come out to someone my own age for the past 10 years, I’ve been asked something along the lines of this question.
Secondly, what if I asked you “Two attractive people of the same sex to which you are attracted are walking down the street. Who do you choose?!” You’d think that was absurd, right? So for the bisexual who is equally attracted to both men and women, this is an absurd question. (And if the bisexual in question has stated a preference, then you don’t need this follow-up question, now do you?)
Finally, attraction, for me at least, has always been so much more complicated and interesting than that. Is one of these attractive people wearing something that identifies them as the fan of a band I like, or is it a T-shirt with a phrase like “That’s nice, dear, now go make me a sandwich?” Is she holding a book by Hemingway, or is that one of the "Twilight" novels? (I know it’s cliché to hate on Twilight but in the immortal words of one Ms. Liz Lemon, “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies.”) And I’m pretty sure this is how most people operate.
Also, lots of bisexuals regardless of gender preferences would answer with “Both of them!”
Do not ask me to have a threesome.
Listen, I’m sure that there are, in fact, MANY bisexuals who love nothing more than group sex, but the mere thought of threeways fills this bisexual with such anxiety that I need to go sit down and collect myself for a moment. There are so many things to deal with in sex just GENERALLY, especially if you’re a woman -- protection and body image and STIs, oh my! -- that adding potential problems like jealousy and remembering to split your attention equally sounds more like work than fun.
Also, in my OkCupid days I used to get propositioned on the regular for threesomes with couples who were, how you say, trashy as all get-out and creepy to boot, and I think those messages (ALWAYS SENT BY THE HUSBAND) have scarred me for life. No me gusta.
Don’t assume that I’m into weird stuff because I swing both ways.
I once noticed that my straight girlfriends and I have very similar discussions every time one of us starts dating someone. It’s the usual stuff about what jobs they have and what stuff we have in common and if they’re smart, funny, nice, etc. But after a few dates, something weird tends to happen when I’m dating a man.
57% (yes, I did the math) of the men I’ve dated or hooked up with have had admitted to having something that could best be described as a kink or a fetish, and those confessions pop up very early on. While I’m still in the “let’s make out like teenagers” phase, they’re stopping me to request that I spank them with a spatula and call them Nancy.
Meanwhile, by a very unscientific poll, I’ve found that hardly any of my straight girlfriends have ever dated someone who wanted them to do anything less vanilla than leaving the lights on. So why do I attract these guys who come up with crap that would make the author of "50 Shades of Gray" clutch her pearls? I suspect that it is because bisexuals, as they are portrayed in films and TV, are a bunch of sadistic, twisted, manipulative, lying, cheating, murdering thieves.
In real life, bisexuals are no more likely to be sexual deviants than their straight or gay counterparts. And I am no more likely to don a pink wig and a bear suit and do a striptease to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” than the next modern gal.
The thing is, this assumption that bisexuals are freaks isn’t specific to the men I’ve dated. Just the other day, I told a co-worker the topic of this very article and she responded with “Did you hear that Clive Davis is bisexual? Yeah, he was into some weird stuff, wasn’t he?”
First of all, I don’t know, I haven’t read his autobiography and he didn’t show up at the last orgy that every bisexual alive secretly attends once a week, so I didn’t have a chance to ask him if he’s done anything strange of late. Secondly, please don’t put those sentences together that way, in which “bisexual” is an offshoot of “weird stuff.” The weirdest thing I’m into right now is putting kale into my smoothies, and that’s all your fault, xoJane.com.
I do have a bit of gaydar, but I don’t have some sort of superpower that tells me if someone is gay, straight, or bi, so when you find out that I’m bi, please don’t shout out a list of celebrity’s/friend’s names and ask me to tell you what their sexual preferences are.
But that would be a cool superpower, right?
Don’t tell me “it’s a phase.”
Listen, when I was in the second grade I heard from friends that there was a new girl in our class. Everyone was like “What school is she from? Is she nice? Is she weird?” My first question was a slightly overzealous “IS SHE PRETTY?”
And then one time I was asking my mom how people could be gay, as in, what did that mean? And how did it work? And in the course of the conversation, my mom said “Well, imagine kissing a girl. It kind of seems weird, right?” And friends, no. It did NOT seem weird.
I have always liked girls in the same way I liked boys. And now it’s been 13 years since I first became aware that I had developed a crush on a girl, and I am still just as bisexual as I was then. I’ve been in relationships with men and women, and throughout all of it I have never been straight or gay. I have always been bi. And I always will be.
So please, for the love of Pete, don’t put on a condescending tone and say anything along the lines of “It’s a phase!” or “You need to experience more of life before you know for sure.” Because:
You need to realize that sexuality is not always black and white, even if it works that way for you.
The thing is, anyone can go through a “phase” in terms of sexual attraction. Surely the celebrity crushes you had when you were a preteen are not the same as the celebrity crushes you have as an adult, right? (Unless you liked Leonardo DiCaprio as a kid, like I did, in which case LEO 4EVA.)
And sure, bisexuals can go through “phases” during which they find themselves more attracted to one sex than the other, but it seems to be more of a natural ebb and flow than a flood followed by a drought from which you shall never recover.
I think the most important point I have been trying to make is this: To you, hopefully well-meaning (but perhaps misinformed) straight or gay friend, I don’t make sense. You are grossed out by the thought of dude parts/lady parts, and how could I like ‘em both? But to me, you guys don’t make much sense.
I do not have the capacity to understand discounting someone as a potential love interest based solely on their sexy bits. It does not compute. (I’m not being facetious, I just truly cannot understand how you, straight women/gay men, can look at Natalie Portman and just be like “Nah.” HOW DOES THAT WORK, YOU WEIRDOS? Have you SEEN her cheekbones?)
There are a million other issues and questions that relate to the sexual identities that don’t fall neatly into “gay” and “straight,” of course, and I’m only touching on a sliver of those issues. There are people for whom gender can be thrown into the mix of stuff they’re flexible about (I think the preferred term there is “pansexual”) and there are people who are asexual but have various types of preferences for the sex/gender of their non-sexual (but still romantic) partner(s).
And that’s why I think it’s important that we do keep asking questions -- let’s get this stuff out into the open and throw off the stigma! But please, when the question-and-answer portion of your conversation begins, don’t be a dick about it.