Add your two cents to our anonymous poll:
Many more readers are sounding off:
I think bisexuals are not out as much as gay people because we can pass. Somewhere in this NPR segment is some data that most bisexuals eventually marry a person of the opposite gender. Like the previous reader said, my sexual experiences with women are not exactly fodder for Christmas dinner family discussion, and as I’ve not had a relationship with another woman, there’s not much to say. My husband knows I also like women, but I’m not technically out to my family.
I expect someone’s already pointed you at Lisa Diamond’s longitudinal study, Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire, but I thought I’d note it just in case, as this book and the concept of remaining “unlabeled” was very meaningful to me.
Another quotes the original reader:
I don’t tell anyone because whom I fuck and how is my own business and nobody else’s. I don’t need support. I don’t want to be part of a sexual community. I just want to do what I want to do and not get any shit about it, which is 100% possible if I just keep it to myself.
That’s what all the closeted guys say. At least the kid in Arkansas terrified of his father has a good reason. The reader admits he identifies as straight because it’s more convenient. Those of us who are mostly or exclusively homosexual don’t have that luxury, which is why we come out. And coming out is the moral thing to do because it might help that kid in Arkansas knows he’s not a freak.
That reader sounds like one of the reasons a lot of gay guys don’t date bisexual guys. Many of them don’t want to publicly acknowledge their relationships, since they prefer the privileges that come with heterosexual relationships and heterosexual identity. By the way, does he keep it to himself to the exclusion of the women he dates and might eventually marry?
Another is far less resentful of that reader:
Thanks to your bisexual reader for reminding me that sometimes what is important to you may be virtually meaningless to someone else, a lesson which should be accepted with good grace. I’m a bisexual woman, but unlike your reader, my bisexuality is integral to my identity. Perhaps my family’s rejection of my sexual identity has something to do with this (I come from a very religious background, although I’ve since given up the faith). I’ve also been in serious relationships with both men and women, and while whom I fuck may not be anyone’s business, it is relevant if someone wants to get to know me.
I think what it comes down to is whether you view sexuality as self-defined (in which case your reader wouldn’t be bisexual) or based on sexual behaviour (which would mean your reader is actually in the closet, regardless of what he claims). But however you look at it, this issue creates a tension between bisexuals like me, who are tired of being lumped together (by both straight and queer folks) with people like your reader, with all the stereotypes that entails, and bisexuals like your reader who don’t want to be judged as disingenuous for occasionally straying outside the rigid sexual boundaries set by society.
Another bisexual woman tells her story:
I grew up in a very liberal household. My mother took pride in being one of the few white students in college in Louisiana who befriended the black students when they were admitted to the school. We were a household that welcomed “everybody.” So when I was raised to understand that “bisexuals don’t exist,” I believed it. I believed they were closeted gay people, just like my parents told me.
I was always attracted to men, but later in high school and in my early college years, I started having sex dreams about women occasionally. I talked to one of my boyfriends about this and he once asked me if I was bi. I became unnecessarily defensive. In my mind, of course I wasn’t bi. I just thought Eliza Dushku (Faith from Buffy) was very attractive.
In my late teenage years, I came to accept that bisexuals existed, but distanced myself from that label for early adulthood. I would occasionally kiss or fool around with a female friend when I had been drinking, but often felt like I needed to be a certain level of drunk for this to be acceptable, or excusable, behavior.
It wasn’t until last year, when I was talking to one of my best friends who is gay about his coming out experience that my parents’ words echoed through my head “bi people don’t exist.” At that moment, I finally realized I was, in fact, bisexual. I proceeded to awkwardly tell my husband and a few of my closest friends, but only a few people.
I still feel incredibly awkward about it, and will feel the hesitation when I use the word “bisexual” to identify myself. At the same rate, I’m frustrated that I only figured this out in my late 20s, and I believe I missed out by not having the opportunity to date women, since I’m now happily married.
I try to be vocal about my sexuality, in hopes that by me talking about bisexuals existing I might somehow help other younger versions of myself come to terms with their sexuality. I don’t like considering it a “coming out” process, because the situation is so different than what I know my gay friends have experienced, but it’s important for me to embrace it and be vocal about it.
I do agree with your reader that sexuality is a fluid thing, and most people I’ve told about my sexuality have said something along the same lines. However, I still fear the stigmas. How will people react when I tell them I’m bi? I’m a married woman who has only dated men. People will question me and doubt me and think I’m just trying to get attention. But it’s an important part of my identity, and so I try to talk about it, which is part of why I am sharing my story with you.
I’m fascinated (in a vaguely horrified way) at your reader who commented: “I have always believed, and almost all of my female friends agree, that women are, by their very nature, “bisexual” (unless they are gay), and that it is the rare woman who is 100% heterosexual.” Really? The “rare woman”? I guess I am one of those “rare women”.
I have had many sexual relationships and many friendships with other females. I have been involved in polygamous relationships (the hinge point of a V, or perhaps a multi-directional W, depending on how you look at it. And I am solidly hetero.
I love my women friends. As friends. As sisters. As who they are. I have even loved the partners of my sexual partners, albeit not in a sexual way. But I have no interest or desire in having sex with another woman. It is not a turn on for me, it is not a sexual attractant for me, and I have chosen to NOT be part of poly relationships where there was a need/want for bisexuality.
I believe that your reader is engaging in the Unicorn Belief System, a system whereby straight men believe that all women are bisexual and want nothing more than to get it on with both men and women for the pleasure of the man involved.
There are woman such as myself who has had an encounter with another woman and found it physically pleasurable and enjoyable for what it was, but recognizes that it’s not what they want/need going forward. That doesn’t make me “bi” any more than a gay man who sleeps with a woman to try to figure out his sexuality and has an orgasm while doing so is “straight”. That makes me a person who was exploring my sexuality before settling into what I found out I wanted and needed.