#Sappho Says is an advice column for the #LGBTQ community where your voice matters and your words hold power. The first question will be from Riley (she/they) a genderqueer, bisexual individual from Canton, Ohio.
“What is a good way to shut down the ‘what percentage are you?’ approach that people have to questioning #bisexuality? I’ve tried describing it as fluid, or as a #spectrum, but most people really don’t understand that. Thank you!”
Hello there, Riley.
First and foremost, before considering confrontation, it’s good to remember to know your limits. I’ve learned that it is most efficient when you anticipate the person in question’s next move and all possible responses, be that good or bad. However, everything does not have to be perfect or rehearsed since you want to make sure your responses are organic. When you rehearse and regurgitate information, you run the risk of hitting a wall in your response. You will be talking to people, rather than a mechanical machine or something that will be graded. Also keep in mind that you are not obligated to answer to anyone, especially when it concerns your sexuality. Your mental health comes first, and confronting people who do not understand can be emotionally taxing.
When you’ve considered all of these factors, you’re ready to go, right? Of course! You know yourself, and even I cannot tell you whether or not you are ready. As far as the topic of a “percentage,” explaining that bisexuality can be fluid or a spectrum is a good start. Oftentimes when I go about discussing anything outside a binary, I focus on the basics of human needs: food, water, shelter and space. Making analogies to food works. I’ve seen expressions such as ice cream, where instead of bisexuality being chocolate-vanilla swirl they are strawberry, which is an entirely different flavor!
The person needs to realize that people are not phone batteries nor ingredients for their favorite pastry. People are multifaceted. Instead of being like coins, people are more like gems. They are different in every way, shape and form. This just makes them all the more mesmerizing. We must acknowledge differences as a good thing, not a bad thing. Others may find this hard to swallow, however, do not feel the need to make yourself uncomfortable to uplift them.
In short, Sappho Says: your mental health comes first and foremost. You know yourself, and nobody can tell you who you are. Education is a path to understanding and you can take it away as quickly as you give it, if it’s not properly appreciated.
Everyone experiences bisexuality differently and that does not make them any less bisexual. I wish you luck in your journey, scholar. May you spark a renaissance in the minds of your peers and beyond!