“No matter what bisexual men and women always end up with men.”
Quotes like this make coming out and living as a proud bisexual person difficult. Certainly all minorities deal with stigma and rejection, but to claim outright that a person’s sense of who they are is non-existent is another matter entirely.
Bisexuality is recognized as a fad or phase through which hormone-addled teens and young adults pass on their way to who they really are: straight (women) or gay (men). Some may temporarily identify themselves as bisexual to make the news more palatable—to themselves or to others—or simply take a little longer sorting out their feelings and understanding what they mean.
In the 70s, musician Sir Elton John, before announcing he was homosexual, claimed to be bi as a means of garnering greater acceptance, as if to say “Hey I like men, but its cool because women are great too!”
People who do this, however, are not bisexual. They are figuring out what their sexuality is and trying to ease into the realization. Identifying as bisexual is fallacious because their actual attraction is to one sex alone.
The same works for “straight” men on the down low and “lesbians” who occasionally sleep with men. They are claiming a title that does not accurately describe their sexuality. It is just a word that holds no real value.
(Note: I am not arguing your right to call yourself whatever you want. It is your life. However, if you are gay and you occasionally sleep with people of the opposite sex, you might want to reconsider that label. But there are plenty of “vegetarians” out there who eat chicken and fish…)
It is this sort of behavior that makes developing and sustaining a bisexual community so difficult. True bisexuality is invisible because so many people who could identify as bisexual in their relationships, sexuality and attraction are denying a part of themselves.
A large part of increasing the visibility of bisexuality and bisexual people is community development. The gay and lesbian community is thriving in all major cities and many smaller ones across the country, but bisexual people exist as a subset within that community. It is easier to identify as gay or lesbian and forge a stronger bond with the community than to continue to be seen as a minority within a minority.
This is made easier if the person is attracted to one sex more strongly than the other.
Several years ago, I attended the 8th International Conference on Bisexuality in Minneapolis. This was my first time being in a space that was occupied solely by other bisexual people. I had never met anyone I knew to be bisexual, though I am not from a small town by any stretch of the imagination.
To be surrounded by others who shared my feelings and some of my insights into sexuality was a thrill and knowing that we were to share these insights in an intellectual-style forum was a thrill. I learned and absorbed so much that weekend, not least of all was the feeling that a belonged to something.
The need to belong is a primal feeling. Humans are social creatures, and our sense of who we are in part is defined by the company we keep. To be seen, bisexual people must build a stronger and wider reaching community to support those who are still coming to terms with their sexuality as well as those who may have lost themselves.