The first guy to have ever really broken my heart was bisexual. In addition to being devilishly handsome, he was remarkably in-tune with and upfront with me about his sexuality. For him, our thing was a sex thing and only a sex thing. He could only love women. He told me this point blank and I, like a fool, pretended that I knew better. We were gonna fall in love and have gaybies; it was written in the stars. Our eventual split had more to do with my inability to accept his truth and less to do with the fact that he liked to bang dudes when he was in between long-term commitments to women. For a while rather than directing my misplaced bitterness towards this man in particular, I aimed it at bisexual men as a whole. I became one of those assholes*.
Bisexual guys and gals are experiencing something of a social renaissance right now. A casual search for the term here at Thought Catalog presents you with shit bi folks aretired of hearing, how common bi-oppression is, and the sentiment that bisexual people are fed up with the rest of our collective bullshit. For too long have dismissive hetero and homo-fascists rendered the lived experiences oppressed bisexuals invisible with their snide remarks and dramatic eyerolls.
Generally speaking I’m right there in solidarity with my bi-brethren, but right now in this moment I feel as if bi-folks have some shit of their own to own up to.
The fluidity of sexuality is a common talking point when discussing the legitimacy of bisexuality. As a gay guy I’ve experienced the faintest of sexual attraction to women on a handful of occasions. It’s sort of like a bit of outdated source code in my sexual OS trying to execute a command that my hardware simply won’t support. I don’t think about it too much because the whole man-attraction thing is using up well over 99% of my processing power, but you get the idea. The more important point: Even though I acknowledge past physical attraction to women, I’ve never felt like I had the capacity to be romantically interested in one. Not once.
I’ve never wanted to hold, caress a woman’s hair, or or profess my undying love for one in flash-mob form. The prospect of spending the rest of my life with a woman sounds so downright unfulfilling that it highlights my intense desire for these things with men in a way that reassures me of my homosexuality.
Note that I’m conflating my desire to build a life with a guy with my homosexuality. Strictly speaking “-sexuality” as a suffix refers to one’s physical desire for a particular sex. We tend to lump emotional and sexual desires together in a way that’s socially irresponsible because in doing so we end up miscommunicating what it is that we want out of our relationships.
Of all of the bi guys I’ve known over the years, the majority of them have been what I would describe as bi-sexual but hetero-amorous. That is to say that while they’d certainly get into some sweaty bro-on-bro action at the frathouse, guys simply couldn’t provide the kind of emotional satisfaction necessary for a romantic relationship.
From what I can tell from a handful of informal conversations my research, it would seem as if the bisexual/hetero-amorous thing is rather common but rarely articulated in those terms. It doesn’t seem to be unique to bisexual men, either. Whether people aren’t differentiating between their carnal interests and emotional needs or simply aren’t considering them as being distinct from one another is unclear. Either way, I think it’s a major source of much of the hostility that bisexual people tend to receive–particularly from gay men.
The “cis-” prefix is commonly used to describe those whose gender and physical sex are tidily aligned. Cis-privilege in this particular context allows for the general assumption that gay men have sex with and fall in love with men, lesbians have sex with and fall in love with women, and straight folks do the same for the opposite sex and genders. Bisexuals buck this pattern by not conforming to its discrete rules. Rather than being equally capable of loving and fucking equally I suspect that most bi-identified people find themselves leaning towards one sex/gender vs. the other for different kinds of fulfillment. That in and of itself isn’t a problem. It’s the not telling people that causes issues.
For many people, every hookup, no matter how drunken or casual or initially FWB-oriented, holds the potential of turning into something more. It’s important to disclose at the onset what it is you’re looking for when you start “seeing” someone. I would argue that it’s even more important, particularly when it comes to bisexuals, to be ready to articulate whether or not the bang-du-jour even has the potential to be “more” should that conversation ever need to happen. Bisexuals get a bad rap for not being able to explain their emotional actions that seem so incongruous with their sexual proclivities. That doesn’t need to be the case.
If more bisexual people could express that sentiment to their partners I’m willing to bet that the rest of us wouldn’t be so hostile towards them. A large part of being a sexual minority is coming out as such. If bisexuals want to stop being ostracized, they’ve got to do more than simply coming out and identifying themselves as being bi. They’ve also got to be upfront about what it is that they want and who they want it from.
*For the record: Tom Daley’s since come out as being 100% gay. Just. Saying.