On the occasion of Pride month, this author debunks myths about bisexuality.
Ever since Section 377 was struck down in 2018, the term ‘LGBT’ has become a more normal part of our vernacular. From conversations at home to representation in popular culture, we’re gradually warming up to queerness both on and off TV. But as most things go, this conversation too has its limitations. It has become fairly easy for us to understand that men can like men, women can like women, and those assigned male or female at birth can feel differently in their bodies. But what about bisexuals?
The meaning of ‘bisexual’
Simply put, a bisexual person is someone who is attracted to both men and women. If one were to look at a more technical meaning of bisexuality, it is the romantic or sexual attraction towards both males and females, or to more than one gender. Bisexuality is simple to understand in theory, but it somehow gets complicated in practice.
While no person from the LGBTQ+ community is free from discriminatory behaviour, bisexual people face a unique set of problems.
From ‘You’re just confused’ to ‘You’re just on your way to being gay’, there are several harmful myths surrounding bisexuality that need to be addressed.
Myths about bisexuality, busted
The thing about biphobia – the prejudice against bisexual people – is that it doesn’t look like biphobia at all. Where gay and lesbian persons are ostracised by society at large, bisexual people are either completely invisibilised, or are hypervisibilised from a voyeuristic lens.
Where does this stigma come from? The male gaze.
From being afraid of gay men to calling lesbians ‘bitter’ for not being able to land men, pop culture, which is often made of, for, and by men, has largely contributed to the stereotypes against the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
According to this gaze, bisexual people are
- Most often women, who are attractive to straight men
- Unicorns – a rare breed of people who are ‘up for anything’
- Are sexually charged and experimental in the bedroom
Several pop culture moments featuring bisexual characters have and continue to be criticized for their portrayal, which stems from this male gaze. But that said, what does the LGBTQ+ community think of them?
Many bisexual people have talked about the biphobia that exists within the community, for their attraction to both men and women makes them less authentic in the eyes of others.
Some say that the term ‘bisexual’ itself is homophobic, for it plays on the binaries of male and female when the entire community is trying to fight these binaries.
This is a lot to pin on us bisexuals, isn’t it? Here are some common misconceptions about bisexuality and bisexual people we’re here to bust.
Bisexual people are cheaters
Yup, we’ve actually been told this. This myth comes from the idea that because there are more genders in the picture, the chances of cheating are higher.
Well, straight people cheat too, and they aren’t as spoiled for choice as we are, technically. Why blame us?
Bisexual people are confused
This stems from the misconception that one has to be a certain percentage of ‘straight’ or ‘gay’, which bi people clearly aren’t. But rest assured, we’re not confused. You are, because you see the world in binaries.
Bisexual people are promiscuous
I can assure you that every single bisexual person has been asked to have a threesome at least once in their lifetime. This is possibly the most damaging myth about bisexuality.
Because we have more choices, we’re considered to be wild, kinky, and always up for adventures.
The truth is that one’s promiscuity is not determined by their sexual orientation. We’re just as vanilla and monogamous as straight (or gay) population!
Bisexuality is the road to homosexuality
Many people assume that bisexual people are one day going to come out as gay. Again, this stems from the idea that being attracted to more than one gender is a marker of confusion, and that bisexual people are exploring their feelings to determine whether they’re straight or gay. Can we get rid of these binaries, please?
Bisexual people are homophobic
Yup – can you believe that? This myth comes from the similarity in the definitions of pansexual and bisexual. While we know what the latter means, pansexuality means attraction towards all gender identities.
Vehement debates on pansexuality vs bisexuality have taken place on the internet, and the verdict is: they are both essentially the same thing.
Bisexual people are just as open to mingling with other genders. There’s no homophobia, just the level of comfort with the label.
You are not bisexual if you’re dating someone of the opposite sex
Bisexual people find themselves constantly fighting for the validity of their attraction to people. If a bisexual woman happens to be dating a cisgender man, her bisexuality is often in question. ‘But why aren’t you with a woman if you’re bi?’
Well, if a straight man can be with one woman and not with others, why can’t a bisexual person do the same thing?
We can’t control who we end up catching feelings for!
Only women can be bisexual
Here comes another misconception stemming from the male gaze.
In a patriarchal world, we’re so used to objectifying women that the thought of women having sex with each other isn’t threatening; it is less about their political rights and more about how it satisfies the pornographic desires of straight men.
This is why the thought of men being bisexual is strange to many. But we’re here to tell you that men – masculine presenting or otherwise – can also be bisexual. We’re just used to looking at women as objects who exist to please men.
Bisexual people have to be equally attracted to both sexes
That is never the case. If a straight man has a preference for tall women over short women, is he less straight? Some bisexual people can be more into women, and some can be more into men. It isn’t an exact science; it is ridiculous to expect it to be.
Bisexuality is as complex, fluid, and valid as any other sexual orientation, and it’s on us to ensure we don’t shut out those who come out to us. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re going to be our bisexual selves, whether you like it or not!
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