September is Bi-Visibility Month, culminating in a September 23rd celebration where all the good bisexual men and women eagerly await a Freddy Mercury-filled dream…
Well, not exactly. This day of recognition is actually more about seeking to combat the lack of visibility that bisexual people experience in both the LGBTQ and hetereosexual communities, as well as the biphobia they experience when they are recognized.
To do our part for Bi-Visibility Day, here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about bisexualty, and why they’re harmful.
1.They’re Doing it For Attention
One of the most common myths about bisexuality is that those who come out as bi (especially women) are doing it for attention. This perpetuates the idea that female sexuality is reserved strictly for the enjoyment of men – instead of something that’s been observed to be a spectrum since even before the Kinsey scale was published in 1948.
2.They’re Actually Gay but Afraid to Come Out
The idea that being bi is ‘just a layover on the way to Gay Town’ (as a very cringe-inducing episode of Sex and the City put it) again suggests that no one could ever really be interested in more than one gender.
Interestingly, this misconception is more commonly applied to bisexual guys, which, when paired with myth #1, makes it seem like society as a whole just assumes that everyone really loves men. Hm…
3.They Can’t Make Up Their Mind
When it comes to being gay or straight, most people agree that sexuality isn’t a choice, so why do people assume bisexual people are somehow struggling with a choice between men or women?
4.They Are Equally Attracted to Men and Women
We get it; with the root ‘bi’ it is easy to think of bisexual attraction as being evenly split in half, but in reality it isn’t always so simply. Some folks identify as bisexual while only dating women, and some may know they are bisexual without having had a sexual experience as one.
If you figure, ‘Well hey, then how can they know?’ then consider how you ‘knew’ what your sexual orientation was before you ever lost your virginity!
5.Bisexual People are Greedy
Look, if the only reason you don’t consider yourself bisexual is because you don’t want to be greedy, we officially give you permission to be as greedy as you like. As to why people think that bisexual people are inherently greedy…well, we struggle to understand it too.
6.They’re Promiscuous and/or Can’t Be Monogamous
While there are certainly non-monogamous bisexual people (just as there are non-monogamous gay and straight people), the inclination toward or away from monogamy has nothing to do with ‘not being satisfied with one partner.’
This assumption also tends to go hand in hand with the ‘promiscuous bisexual’ trope which is unfortunately one of the most common depictions of bisexual people in media (think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct). Again, there is nothing wrong with being “promiscuous” (whatever that really means) but whether someone is or is not has little to do with their orientation.
7.Bisexual People are Always Interested in Threesomes
If you’re interested in having a MFF threesome and you already have the M and the F… then yes, you’re probably going to find that a bisexual woman is more receptive to the proposal then a straight one, however that does not mean that every bisexual person likes group sex or wants to have it with you.
Basically, they’re called unicorns for a reason.
8.They Become Straight When They’re in a Relationship with Someone of the Opposite Gender
There is no magic wand that gets waved when a bisexual man is in a relationship with a woman to make him straight, nor one to make him gay if he’s in a relationship with a man; you can maintain your attraction even if you aren’t currently acting on it!
9.Everyone is a Little Bisexual
This is one of those myths that seems like it’s the right thing to say when someone comes out to you as bi, but is actually still just a bit of the ol’ biphobia.
A recent survey found 29% of Americans between 18-29 describe themselves as somewhere on the bisexuality spectrum.
While that certainly seems like a big number (particularly compared to how older segments of the population identify) it definitely isn’t everyone, and when you claim that everyone is ‘a bit bi’ you are erasing their identity as something discrete from those who are completely straight or gay, and often ignores the unique issues they face compared to their peers.
10.Bisexual People Don’t Experience Discrimination
One of the reasons why we have Bisexual Visibility month is because of the assumption that bisexual individuals do not face their own unique set of issues.
Aside from dealing with the above myths and misconceptions from people in both communities, here are some stats about issues facing bisexual people from the “2014 Movement Advancement Project” report and “Rainbow Health Ontario”:
- The percentage of bisexual women struggling with PTSD is 26.6% compared with 6.6% of straight women.
- Bisexual men are 6.3 times more likely than straight men to consider suicide, while gay men are 4.1 times more likely.
- Bisexual people have reported higher rates of substance abuse than gay and lesbian people.
- Bisexual people report higher rates of anxiety, depression, and mental illness than gay and lesbian people.
- Programs created to help bisexual people receive only 0.3% of funds given to gay and lesbian support programs.
So the next time you hear that someone is bisexual (say, Mara Wilson,Billie Joe Armstrong, Alan Cumming, Drew Barrymore, Evan Rachel Wood or Carrie Brownstein, to name a few) and assume one of the above about them, remember that not only is it not true, there’s a one-in-three chance your misconceptions negatively impact someone you know.