We Love Who We Love: Bisexuality

When we are born, we have to be taught everything. Our parents show us how to eat, how to walk, how to talk, what religion we should or shouldn’t follow, and ultimately how to hate and love. We are not born with hate in our hearts or love our lifelong goal. For generations, children have grown and have been taught to believe there is one sexuality and one way to love; heterosexuality, love between a man and a woman. For the past century, acceptance of other sexualities has grown and been acknowledged. However, it is much more “acceptable” to be a bisexual woman than a man. Even then, though, women are highly accused of faking their sexuality.

With the legalization of gay marriage nationwide, and some states in the U.S. legalizing adoption for gay couples, overall knowledge of bisexuals has grown, helping to form LGBTQ+. While society has not yet reached the point of a “positive attitude” it has become “neutral.” According to recent study by Brian Dodge of Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion, “While positive attitudes toward gay men and lesbians have increased over recent decades, a new study led by researchers at IU's Center for Sexual Health Promotion shows attitudes toward bisexual men and women are relatively neutral, if not ambivalent” (Women’s Health Weekly 2642). Dodge also states, “While recent data demonstrates dramatic shifts in attitude (from negative to positive) toward homosexuality, gay/lesbian individuals and same-sex marriage in the U.S., most of these surveys do not ask about attitudes toward bisexuality or bisexual individuals.” Over the past couple of decades, it has become more acceptable amongst general public to be a gay or lesbian individual. People have opened up far more to the idea that not everyone identifies sexually as the same as the other.

However, some are still skeptical about the idea that a person can be attracted to both men and women, and whether or not that would make them more susceptible to cheat. “In regard to bisexual men and women having the capability to be faithful in a relationship, nearly 40 percent neither agreed nor disagreed,” the IU’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion research reports. With the most well-known sexuality: lesbian, gay, and straight, the individuals are either attracted to one gender or the other, which is why people are so wired to think that just because someone likes more than one gender means that they’re unfaithful. According to “‘I Married A Guy, But I'm Still Bi’: The Whole Husband-and-Wife Thing Makes Me Look Pretty Hetero... So I”d Like to Set The Record Straight,” an article written by bisexual Loni Venti of Cosmopolitan:

My girlfriend's lesbian friends were reluctant about accepting a bi girl into their crew. They worried that I was flaky or confused or I'd run off with the first hot guy who showed me attention. To be honest, I couldn't blame them, because that's how society labels bisexual women. But I'm not trying to ‘double my odds.’ I'm not wishy-washy or on the fence. I'm just someone who has been attracted to both men and women--and no, not at the same time. If I'm with a person, I'm just with them. End. Of. Story” (Venti 76).

While there are cheaters amongst everyone, whether or not a person is unfaithful does not directly relate to being bisexual, society is conditioned to think this. On the webpage “Psychology Today,” Zhana Vrangalova states “Just because you’re attracted to, say, men, doesn’t mean you want to be in relationships, or have sex with, two or more men at the same time,” when talking about how “ludicrous” it is to think just because someone is bisexual means they will cheat on their partner.

Statistically speaking, women are more commonly openly bisexual than men. Said women get a lot of criticism for this sexuality, being accused of faking it for attention. Actress Aubrey Plaza recently made headlines when she announced to the public she was bisexual. The star got mixed emotions, being told she was an inspiration or that she was just looking for attention (“A is For Aubrey” 10). Readers of The Advocate got to send in their opinions on the coming out of Plaza, and some were published in the article “A is For Aubrey, B is For Bisexual.”

"She is an inspiration, living openly and letting us know that it's OK to be who [we] can't help being, instead of feeling like we don't deserve to exist because of pressure from monosexuals to conform for their comfort. Love her vibe and energy!" reader Tori Veach sent in.

Jason Evans took a less charitable view: ‘I'm not saying that Aubrey is faking it but I've seen too many women fake their bisexuality in order to obtain a reward from men. It's insulting to the GLBT community when women behave like this.’

Marcela Xavier responded to Evans: ‘People seem to think women are these stupid creatures that live to please men, even when they're making a statement about their own liking of women. It's insane!’” (“A is For Aubrey” 10)

Within the quote from Evans, it is said that women sometimes fake bisexuality to “obtain a reward from men.” Even with no context given that Plaza was indeed faking it, there is still speculation due to the conditioning of society to believe that women do and live to please men, like it is said in the quote from Xavier.

In today’s world, it is far more acceptable to hear that a woman is bisexual rather than a man. As such, is it different than when a woman is openly bi? For both, they are often accused of not being able to “pick a side” or it's just a phase for them. Women’s Health article “Bi Chance” quotes sociology professor at the University of Notre Dame, Elizabeth Aura McClintock, “The label that defines someone at one point in time may not fit them later in life.” However, actress and model Cara Delvingne countered McClintock’s statement in the article, “My sexuality is not a phase. I am who I am.”

And for men? While it is much less common for men to be openly bisexual than women statistically speaking, they have the same troubles and questions when it comes to, well, being “out.” An article in Marie Claire, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” by Melissa Petro, discusses a real life experience when it comes to dating a bisexual man as a straight woman. “The most common misconception about bisexual people is that they're indecisive or confused. The stereotype is: ‘You're either straight, gay, or lying.’” In her article, Petro explains her insecurities when it came to pleasing Arran, her bisexual boyfriend. While she didn’t question his sexuality, she questioned whether or not it would work. Would she be able to deal with the sex life, the constant questioning of if she is enough, or the wondering of if Arran was secretly wishing he were with a man instead of herself?

It's now been almost two years since our first date; Arran and I live together, we talk about getting married and having kids. At times, I still wonder if Arran would be more satisfied sexually by a man, or if it would be easier to love a "manly" man, but I've realized these insecurities have less to do with his sexuality than I first thought. The jealousy I sometimes feel toward his ex-boyfriend, for example, is no different than the jealousy I might feel toward a female ex. And even if I worry that it's impossible to please him, isn't it always the case that sexual compatibility requires some experimentation, flexibility, and compromise? (“Are You Gonna?” 202)

Petro gave a closer look into the life of a heterosexual relationship with a bisexual man, which not many people can say the same. When it comes to any relationship, each person is individual and different, and each person likes their own things and has preferences. Saying any bisexual man is “girly” or “unmanly” is equivalent to saying every doctor likes to perform surgery the exact same way as the other millions of doctors in the world. A doctor has their preferences because they are individual; how they scrub before a surgery, where their surgical tools are placed, even how quiet or loud they like their OR. The same goes for bisexual individuals. For example, a bisexual man is not automatically feminine for liking males and females, because they have their own preferences. There are straight men in the world who likes to wear makeup and dress feminine, and they date women. There are straight women who like to wear men’s clothes simply for comfort. Bisexual individuals can be masculine or feminine depending not on their sexuality, but their preference.

The questions lies now: Why do more women identify as bisexual than men? Is there a reason? A difference? Rebecca Adams, Editor for Huffington Post, in her online article entitled “Is There A Reason Women May Be More Likely To Identify As Bisexual Than Men?” discusses the findings and results of research done on why there is such a difference between bi men and bi women. While the article considers many factors, such as age, personality, and appearance when wondering why a women would “choose” to be bisexual, they found no link as to why men would identify that way.

Of course, the researchers aren’t suggesting that any of these life factors cause women to sexually identify in a specific way or that people consciously “choose” their sexuality. Rather, they merely suggest that social context may play a role in whether or not a woman who is more sexually fluid acts on that fluidity and claims a less heteronormative label.

It’s also important to note that, even though this study didn’t find a link between male sexual identity and social context, that doesn’t necessarily mean that men aren’t as sexually fluid as women. It might just be that society as a whole is less accepting of bisexual men, so they have to push through a specific kind of stigma to openly explore their sexuality (“Is There A Reason?”).

No matter how much research is done on why exactly someone identifies the way they do, it is going to be nearly impossible. Our parents teach a lot from the moment we are born. For nine months, as we grow and develop, our mother breathes for us and supplies us nutrients. Once born, we learn. Children turn out the way they do based on how they are raised. So how is does one grow up to become gay or bisexual? Surely some parents may try to condition their children on who they love, but there are numerous stories of Christians being gay despite their family’s beliefs, and children of gay parents growing up to be completely straight. Where do they learn it from? When do they choose?

People are born the way they are. Blue eyes, black hair, long legs, short arms; try as they will to change their height and they will scarcely ever achieve. An individual can choose to dye his or her hair, but it always fades and the true colors show. Wear contact lenses, but the real color will always be underneath. The same goes for gender. Who we love comes from our hearts, and not from our schools or parents’ lectures.
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