It’s a big, bad, heteronormative world and coming out as anything except straight (which is assumed by default, anyway) can be a daunting process. Bisexuals have a unique problem, on the one hand, it would seem easier to co-opt them into the dominant narrative, but on the other hand, they get co-opted in ways that completely devalue their identity in an attempt to make them seem more acceptable. These are some questions that I’m often asked that are all examples of how heteronormativity seeps into the common perceptions of bisexuality.
You’re bisexual, does that mean you want to have sex with everyone?
You’re straight, do you want to have sex with every one of your preferred gender? I can assure you, I also find myself attracted only to certain people.
Does that mean you like to have threesomes all the time?
Whether I like threesomes or not would have nothing to do with being bisexual, it would be a personal sexual preference. I could be bisexual and monogamous, or even straight and polyamorous. It would be rude and presumptuous to assume that is something any bisexual person is okay with. There are many ways you can ask this question without having to refer to my sexual orientation.
Why don’t you just call yourself pansexual if you’re attracted to everyone?
But I’m not attracted to everyone, I find myself primarily attracted to people who identify as either male or female. Gender isn’t a neat binary, it’s a large spectrum, of which I am attracted only to two particular ones.
So if you’re with a guy, it means you’ve ‘turned’ straight, and if you’re with a girl you’ve ‘turned’ lesbian, right?
No, it just means that they are the partner I have chosen to be with at that particular time. It’s not like my sexual orientation is a switch I can turn on and off, it’s always there. Bisexual people are perfectly capable of being in an exclusive relationship.
Are you pretending to be bisexual just to attract guys?
No, if I wanted to attract guys, I would get naked. Not everything is a performance to satiate the male gaze, much as you may like to think it is.
Are you pretending to be bisexual just for attention?
What attention? The sort that makes me get asked these silly questions? Trust me, I’d rather not. If I truly wanted attention, I would wear a unicorn suit and run around screaming. Bisexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation, observed not only throughout human history but also amongst other species.
Oh, so you’re just experimenting?
No, I have already ‘experimented’ and come to the conclusion that I’m bisexual.
It’s important to not assume things about people’s sexual habits and preferences just because of their sexual orientation. No one is part of a homogeneous group, and it is important to keep that in mind, so that you can be more sensitive when you ask questions. And by the way, always ask questions – that’s great. But make sure you know how to ask them.