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My Evolving Definition of My Bisexuality

An anon suggested that FYBis! reblog this post as a possibly explanation to the question : what is bisexuality? 

After reading it, my mind is buzzing and whirring, digesting everything this persyn wrote. I’m seriously interested in what others of you have to say! 

cloudofgorgeousness:

This entire post was fueled by the sentence “‘Bi’ is not binary.”

So, I identify as bisexual. I’ve done so for a while, but I’m still trying to figure out what it means to me.

I identified as bi long before I identified as genderqueer- so initially, I found “bi” to mean “two”, to mean I was attracted to two binary genders; one that was my own, female, and one that was the “other” gender, male. Because isn’t that, upon skimming through the history of the bisexual movement, the definition? Homosexuals love the same gender; heterosexuals love the opposite gender. Bisexuals love both the same and the opposite gender.

For a long time I have been operating under the assumption that if “bi” is taken to mean attraction to two genders, then those genders are male and female. Yet can’t someone be bisexual because they are attracted to two genders that aren’t male and female? Say someone is attracted to two different types of genderqueer- don’t they still technically fit into that definition of bisexuality?

In addition, being genderqueer myself changes things. If the “same” gender to me is genderqueer, then which binary gender becomes the opposite gender? For me, I suppose both male and female serve as opposites to my identification, although opposite is too extreme a word- they are not everything my gender isn’t, and my gender isn’t everything they aren’t, and yet there is a definite distinction between the boundaries/limitations of male and female genders and the boundaries/limitations of my version of genderqueer.

What I’m getting at is the question of whether or not “bi”-sexual can be taken to mean being attracted to greater than or equal to two genders. The thing is, heterosexuality is defined as liking the opposite gender. It is not called monosexuality, nor is homosexuality, though both the hetero- and homo- sexualities tend to be indicative of monosexuality. So why should bisexuality be entirely about the number of genders one is attracted to, instead of the types of genders? Perhaps it is because “types” of genders is not something people in our society are used to thinking about, and making bisexuality binary is a way to get the idea of non-monosexuality across to the everyday layman. Perhaps it is because the world bisexual began as a medical term and we all know that medical terminology is always right in its limited definitions to infinity and beyond and does not need to evolve over time (that was sarcasm).

Anyways, in thinking about all this, I began to wonder if I would be better defined as pansexual, seeing as I am neither one-gender-sexual nor two-gender-sexual, but more spectrum-of-gender-sexual.

However in my experience, although it is not inherent in the term, pansexuality seems to be indicative of an attraction to people based not in gender but in personality. In other words, pansexuals have the potential to be attracted to any body type which contains a personality which is attractive to them.

Well, that just isn’t me. I think dicks are hot. I think vaginas are hot. The thing is, I can find dicks and vaginas hot whether they are on a boy and a girl or a girl and a boy or a genderqueer person and a genderfuck person- regardless of emotional/mental identification and personality I find those body types to be attractive. I don’t know from experience, so I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I would find non-binary variations on penises and vaginas to be quite as big a turn-on to me personally.

But if I am assuming that pansexuality is “gender-blind”, then I further seem to be implying that all pansexuals are demisexual, meaning they require an emotional connection to someone before feeling physical attraction to them. And yet there are certainly demisexual bisexuals as well; if bisexuality is distinct from pansexuality in its inherent attraction to body types alongside personality, how can there be bisexuals who only feel this attraction following an attraction to personality? Isn’t this contradictory?

I suppose it is because these bisexuals do have these inherent binaries of attraction, but they only come out once they have an emotional connection with someone. This is different from the creation of an attraction which is relevant to that person’s body after getting to know them. Simply stated, bisexuals have types of personal attraction already set, though they can evolve based on romantic/emotional relationships with others; pansexuals create new types of personal attraction based on romantic/emotional relationships with others.

Being extremely aware of the way labels drastically vary from person to person, I am uncomfortable making huge generalizations about identities. Everything I say should be taken with a very large grain of salt; I am trying to define pansexuality in a way which excludes me and bisexuality in a way which includes me; this, I guarantee, is not the case for everyone.

Assuming I reconcile the limitations of the term bisexuality with my own personal identification, I have further to acknowledge that in this day and age identity is truly a political statement. I hesitate to leave the label of bisexuality behind instead of sticking with it and stretching its definition, disposing of its stereotypes, and overall creating a statement against biphobia and for the legitimization of healthy non-monosexuality. Even if I did not identify as bi I have certainly experienced plenty of biphobia directed at me; does this not make me understand the bisexual experience, regardless of personal identification? Does this not make my confidence and sense of identity a political statement against biphobia? I fear that to some people it doesn’t. And so, in keeping the label ‘bisexual’ I am encompassing my life experiences within that of the bisexual community, both altering and becoming a part of bisexual culture. And this is probably the biggest reason I don’t identify as pan; I do not currently feel like my experiences and I are a part of pansexual culture nor the community as a whole.

This may be equivalent, however, to the way a homosexual man may not identify as gay due to the subculture of flamboyant “gayness”, or a homosexual woman may not identify as lesbian due to a lack of relation to the various lesbian subcultures, which may include such things as being strictly femme, butch, or plaid-wearing. They are still homosexual regardless of identification, or lack thereof, with a specific culture/community. I guess that to me culture is a big part of my queer identification, and I cannot have one without the other.

So, to sum it up:

  • I initially defined my bisexuality as the significant potential to like both boys and girls.
  • I then changed my definition to mean the potential to like multiple genders; those which are the same as mine, and those which are not the same as mine- this is not necessarily confined to the gender binary of male and female.
  • I considered the label pansexuality, but found it to be more related to emotional attraction than physical attraction, whereas I prioritize the two equally.
  • I consciously choose the label bisexuality as a means of ending biphobia and making the word bisexual accommodating to a greater range of non-monosexuals. Furthermore, I identify with bisexual culture and feel that my life experiences are more relevant to living as bisexual than as part of any other identification.
  • Basically: I started out bi. I still am bi. Who knows how I’ll end up? I dunno, but it’ll definitely involve more thinking, more writing, and more keeping y’all posted.

P.S.: In my exploration of the initial quote which started all this thinking, I found this post: http://bifurious.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/the-two-in-bisexual/

And I really, really like it. And suggest you read it. And I also found this post: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/why-i-identify-as-bisexual-and-not-pansexual/

Which is written by someone who read the first post and responded to it. Just like I did just now! So that’s cool.

I’d love to hear yalls thoughts, through replies or inboxes or photos or anything! How do you define yourself?

Need your opinion!

Hey guys!  I am conducting research for a research class on bisexual women and their roles in society….but guess what I really don’t know many bisexual people!  So if any of you guys are bisexual and would like to voice your opinion confidentially, please inbox me!  My questions revolve mostly around how bi women feel in the gay community, straight community, etc. 

Thank you so much!!! : )

And if you don’t want to participate, let’s be friends anyway!  I apparently need more bi friends in my life.

anotherkinseyresearch submitted

What is new is not bisexuality, but rather the widening of our awareness and acceptance of human capacities for sexual love … Even a superficial look at other societies and some groups in our own society should be enough to convince us that a very large number of human beings, probably a majority - are bisexual in their potential capacity for love … We will fail to evolve in our understanding of human sexuality if we continue to see homosexuals merely as ‘heterosexuals-in-reverse,’ ignoring the vast diversity actually represented by society’s many varied expressions of love between people.
Margaret Mead (via thissinkingboat)

My whole grade knows I’m bisexual

lgbtq-gmh:

There’s this girl who is openly against gays and bisexuals, using the well-loved “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” argument. My extremely religious friend didn’t talk to me for a week before she decided that God loves everyone so she could too sticks up for me everytime. Her ability to look past my sexuality and hold onto our friendship GMH.

Submitted to LGBTQ-GMH by nowimeverybodysfool.

Bisexuality [Link]

By: Brett Genny Beemyn

Common wisdom about bisexuality states that either bisexuals do not really exist or that everyone is actually bisexual. Although contradictory, these two popular myths reflect the dominant thinking about bisexuality at different times and among different observers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Sex researchers have often sought to explain (or explain away) bisexuality, seeing it as a transitional stage for individuals who will eventually identify as heterosexual or homosexual, or subsuming it under the category of homosexuality, based on the belief that bisexuals are simply in denial about their “true” selves. Even authorities who argued that humans were bisexual by nature typically rejected bisexuality as a distinct sexual identity.

But as sexologists encountered more and more people who had been involved with both women and men throughout their lives, it became increasingly difficult to deny the existence of bisexuality. Not until the 1970s and 1980s, though, did researchers and scholars begin to survey bisexuals themselves. This growing body of literature has helped counter many of the stereotypes about bisexuals.

Bi-sexology

Early sexologists considered sexual object-choice to be a determinant of gender; being attracted to a man made one a woman and vice-versa. The first researcher to publish widely on male same-sex desire, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, theorized in the mid-1860s that what he called “uranism" resulted from a "female soul in a male body." Other sexologists agreed, arguing that individuals who engaged in same-sex relationships had an "inverted" gender identity.

It naturally followed then that individuals who were attracted to men and women were considered “psychosexual hermaphrodites.” They desired both males and females because they were both male and female. Accordingly, the term “bisexuality” was first used in the mid-nineteenth century to describe people whom we would identify today as intersexed.

The work of Sigmund Freud shifted “bisexuality” from a biological to a psychological concept in the early twentieth century. Based on erroneous theories about embryonic hermaphroditism, Freud proposed that all human beings were born with an unconscious bisexual disposition. Through the course of normal childhood development, individuals repressed their “homosexual side,” thereby assuming a heterosexual identity and achieving psychological “maturity.” Thus, while Freud recognized the potential to be attracted to both women and men, he maintained that actually being bisexual was a neurosis.

Freud influenced popular understandings of bisexuality for much of the first half of the twentieth century, but his was not the only voice on the topic. Freud’s associate Wilhelm Stekel agreed that everyone had an innate bisexual predisposition. However, diverging from his mentor, Stekel contended that this initial bisexual potential led naturally to having relationships with women and men. He felt that both homosexuality and heterosexuality were symptoms of a neurosis, since being exclusively attracted to one sex required sublimating a basic part of oneself. “There are no monosexual persons!,” he emphatically argued.

Bisexuality in Research on Sexuality

Despite the attention given to bisexuality in the work of Freud, Stekel, and a number of other psychoanalysts, scientific research on sexuality largely ignored the issue. Historically, most researchers failed to consider bisexuality a specific sexual identity. They combined the responses of individuals who expressed a desire for both women and men with the data from those who were exclusively attracted to others of the same sex or excluded bisexuals from their studies altogether.

The research of Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues in the late 1940s and early 1950s was groundbreaking for its recognition of the inadequacy of reducing the diversity of human sexual experience to a heterosexual/homosexual binary.

Finding that 28% of women and 46% of men had responded erotically or were sexually active with both women and men, Kinsey’s studies awakened other researchers and the American public to the prevalence of bisexuality and challenged the distinction psychoanalysts made between the normal and the pathological.

Kinsey, however, was reluctant to use the word “bisexuality” to describe this behavior because of the term’s historical usage to refer to the physical or psychological combination of the feminine and masculine. But as a result of Kinsey’s research, the earlier senses of bisexuality were largely displaced by the modern meaning of being attracted to both women and men.

Some scholars have since challenged Kinsey’s methodology and data (while he interviewed more than 11,000 women and men, he limited his samples to whites). But his conception of human sexual behavior as a continuum from heterosexuality to homosexuality, rather than a dichotomy—what has become known as the Kinsey scale—has had a lasting influence on how sexuality is perceived.

Building on Kinsey’s attempt to qualify sexual experience, other researchers have devised instruments for assessing sexual orientation that rely on multiple factors. The best known of these scientific tools, the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid (KSOG), was developed by psychiatrist Fritz Klein in 1978.

The KSOG measures sexual attraction, sexual behavior, sexual fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, heterosexual/homosexual lifestyle, and self-identification. Individuals rate themselves on each variable for their past, present, and ideal futures using the Kinsey scale, resulting in a twenty-one category profile of sexual orientation.

The Klein grid has been popular among bisexual activists, as well as sex educators and therapists, because it recognizes the complexity of sexuality, including the fact that aspects of sexual orientation can change over time and that sexual self-identification is not necessarily reflected in current sexual experience.

In the last decade, significant scientific and media attention has been given to studies that seek to find a biological cause for sexual orientation. Most of this research looks for genetic or physiological distinctions between lesbians or gay men and heterosexuals, such as Simon LeVay’s study of the size of particular nuclei in the hypothalamus and Dean Hamer’s examination of familial DNA differences. Bisexuality is rarely addressed or considered a distinct sexual identity in this work, because doing so would likely blur the clear-cut distinctions researchers hope to make, if not cast doubts on their findings altogether.

Bisexual Identity Development

Like most research on sexuality, models of lesbian and gay identity development have often ignored or dismissed bisexuality. These models characterize the coming out process as a movement that typically involves recognizing one’s same-sex attraction, finding other lesbians and gay men, accepting oneself, becoming immersed in the lesbian and gay community, and finally, integrating sexuality into one’s self-identity.

While bisexuals may share some of these experiences, they are rarely included in theories of sexual identity development. A number of models do mention bisexuality, but only in the context of forestalling the formation of a positive lesbian or gay identity. For example, the most frequently cited theory, Vivienne Cass’s Model of Homosexual Identity Formation, considers bisexuality to be a way to deny one’s “true” sexuality. Individuals struggling to accept being lesbian or gay may perceive themselves as bisexual for a time, because they can hold onto the possibility of future other-sex relationships.

Few researchers have specifically considered bisexual identity development. Based on studies of bisexual women and men in San Francisco in the 1980s, Martin Weinberg, Colin Williams, and Douglas Pryor devised a four-stage model to describe the coming out process for bisexuals: initial confusion, finding and applying the label, settling into the identity, and continued uncertainty. This last stage, which they saw as unique to the experiences of many bisexuals, resulted from the relative lack of a bisexual community for social validation and the persistent pressure bisexuals receive from parts of the lesbian and gay community to identify as lesbian or gay instead.

Other theorists have rejected the appropriateness of linear stage models. Paula Rodríguez Rust, one of the foremost researchers on bisexuality, argues that the process of coming out is shaped by multiple dimensions, including not only sexual attraction and behavior, but also political commitments, emotional ties, and community involvement. In studying self-identified bisexual women and lesbians, Rust found that the majority of both groups had been involved in other-sex relationships and were attracted to both women and men, but interpreted and labeled their experiences in different and often conflicting ways.

The process of coming out as bisexual is also complicated by the need to cope with both homophobia and biphobia. Examples of biphobia include the assumption that a same-sex couple is lesbian or gay and a mixed-sex couple is heterosexual, that bisexuals are confused or indecisive about their sexuality, that they spread HIV/AIDS to other groups, and that by nature they are equally attracted to women and men and cannot live monogamously. Because bisexuals are often stigmatized by lesbians, gay men, and heterosexuals, many are reluctant to disclose their bisexuality.

Conclusion

Research on bisexuality, as well as the visibility of bisexual groups and individuals, since the 1970s has begun to challenge the negative perception of bisexuals. While bisexuals continue to be excluded from many studies of sexuality or grouped unquestionably with lesbians and gay men, it is increasingly difficult for researchers to contend that bisexuality is not a distinct sexual identity. The greater attention being given to the lives and experiences of bisexuals can only lead to a more accurate and complete understanding of sexual orientation.


Brett Genny Beemyn has written or edited five books in glbtq studies, including Queer Studies: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Community Anthology (1996) and Creating a Place for Ourselves: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community Histories (1997). The Lives of Transgender People is in progress. A frequent speaker and writer on transgender campus issues, Beemyn is the director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Bisexual

by *Lady-DreamSoul

Bisexual

I can already see,
See the disgust in your eyes.
I can it see it doesn’t matter,
You’re always telling me
How much you love me,
That your love for me
Is unconditional
One phrase I can say
Will truly put
Your love to the test

“I like girls”

Look,
Look at your eyes fall,
Can you look me in the eye?
You’re crying now,
Please, please stop.
Don’t, no don’t, walk away

I like girls,
But I’m not gay
I like boys,
But I’m not straight

I never meant to hurt you
But I am who I am,
I never meant to disappoint you
But I love whom I love.

And I am Bisexual.

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