Sexual orientation is a topic that everyone seems to think they know everything about, but it’s often really easy to identify those who don’t know much about it at all. I can’t speak for every sexuality, but it sometimes feels like people just don’t get bisexuality. If you don’t know much about it and are too afraid to ask anyone, then this little primer is for you.
Bisexuality can be inclusive or it can be exclusive.
Inclusive involves both biological sex and gender; exclusive involves just biological sex. This inclusiveness/exclusiveness isn’t about bias for most bisexuals. It’s about attraction.
Bisexuality does not mean that someone is polyamorous.
A person can be bisexual and monogamous, just like a person can be heterosexual and polyamorous.
Bisexuality does not mean that someone is more likely to cheat.
I know that there are a bunch of people out there who refuse to date bisexuals because they believe that a bisexual partner is more likely to cheat or lie. Unlike my first point, this is about bias; the bias of the non-bisexual individual. There is no proof that bisexual individuals are more likely to cheat on you.
Bisexuality does not mean that a person is equally attracted to men and women — cisgender or transgender.
While some get the 50/50 split, many are either primarily attracted to a person of the same gender/sex or to a person of a different gender sex.
Bisexuality does not mean that a person will date more than one sex/gender.
Bisexuality does not mean that they are attracted to every person of the same sex.
No one assumes that all heterosexual people are attracted to every person of a different sex, but non-heterosexual people are often asked if they’re attracted to everyone of their sex. It’s hard to explain to someone that it is possible to be attracted to some members of a sex and not all of them.
Bisexuality does not end when a person enters into a relationship.
It just doesn’t work that way. A few years ago, I was watching Larry King conduct an interview of Anna Paquin, one of my favorite actresses, and this exchange took place:
King: “Are you a non-practicing bisexual?”
Paquin: “Well, I am married to my husband and we are happily monogamously married.”
King: “But you were bisexual?”
Paquin: “Well, I don’t think it’s a past-tense thing.”
Larry King: “No?”
Paquin: “No. Are you still straight if you are with somebody — if you were to break up with them or if they were to die, it doesn’t prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn’t really work like that.”
Bisexual teens are more likely to feel suicidal.
A study published in 2013 found that depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts among bisexual teenagers and teenagers who identify as “mostly gay” were less likely to significantly decrease compared to their heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, and gay counterparts.
Bisexuals have higher reported rates of mental illness and substance abuse.
Bisexual women score higher on a survey measuring suicidal thought than straight women and lesbians. Bisexuals are prone to higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide than other people. Bisexual men and bisexual women are 6.3 and 5.9 times more likely to have been suicidal than heterosexuals. It is believed that a lack of representation specifically contributes to this increase. Because literature indicates that bisexuals may experience more distress and mental health problems than people who identify as homosexual or heterosexual, mental health professionals were urged in 2014 to be on alert for increased mental health problems in bisexual patients.
Bisexuals are more likely to be raped.
When it comes being stalked, raped, and or a victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner, 61% of bisexual women and 37% of bisexual men have experienced it compared to 44% lesbians, 26% gay men, 35% of heterosexual women, and 29% of heterosexual men. 22% of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, while that 9% of heterosexual women have had the same experience. Forty-six percent of bisexual women have been raped (in general) compared to 17% of heterosexual women and 13% of lesbians. Forty-seven percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape compared to 40% of gay men and 21% of heterosexual men. Almost half of all bisexual women who have survived rape experienced the first rape between the ages of 11 and 17.
Bisexuals are more likely to live in poverty.
Twenty-five percent of bisexual men and thirty percent of bisexual women live in poverty, compared to twenty and twenty-three percent of gay men and lesbians.
If you learn nothing else from this, please remember that bisexuals are not a monolithic group and that understanding the bisexual community is essential in the struggle to achieve equal rights & guarantee justice for everyone.
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