What is Bisexuality?

Although there is a definition of bisexuality (as a sexual orientation) given in the dictionary, the use of the word bisexual as a label and identity varies from group to group and from bisexual individual to bisexual individual. Since no one definition can fully cover all the different types of bisexuals that exist in this world, here are a few of the more popular definitions currently in use:

1. Someone who is capable of feeling romantic, spiritual, and/or sexual attraction for two genders*.

2. A person who loves despite gender.

3. One who loves individuals first and genders second.

4. An individual open to sexual or emotional exploration with two genders.

*note that two genders is specified here being as many people are aware that there are more that two genders in this world (gender refers to a person's psychology, not to their physical sex)

Myth # 1: "There is no such thing as Bisexual. You're either gay/lesbian or straight, no in between."

The world is not black and white. Although it is sometimes hard for people to see the shades of gray that they do not understand. It is this attitude that all things fall into extremes that keeps many people from learning about and adopting the label, Bisexual.

Despite this there are many people who identify as bisexual in this world. This is the label that they feel best describes their attractions, be they physical or emotional, towards different genders. Often times one may remain unaware of a friend or relative's bisexuality because of this tendency (by either party) to classify everything as either gay or straight.

Myth #2: "Bisexuals are confused about their sexuality. They can't have it both ways... they have to make a choice."
  This is quite possibly the hardest myth to dispel because of the fact that many people in transition from identifying as straight to identifying as gay or lesbian (and vice versa) use the label Bisexual as an aid in their transition. There is nothing wrong with this and in fact many people may feel bisexual for a time in their lives and then find that they identify more as gay/lesbian or straight, than bisexual. Most self-identified bisexuals have made their choice. What is meant by choice here is in choosing that label and NOT in choosing their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is believed by many doctors (including psychiatrists) to be determined biologically and is not a conscious choice. Whatever other choices may be made, such as to the monogamy of relationships, is made on an individual basis and has little, if anything, to do with the label one adopts
Myth # 3: "Everybody is bisexual"
  Although most people experience an attraction for someone of the same gender at some point in their lives, this does not mean that everyone is bisexual. For most people these feelings pass or change over time without the person ever questioning or redefining their sexual orientations.
Myth # 4: "To be bisexual you have to love both genders equally."
  Identifying as bisexual does not set a limit as to how attracted one must feel towards either gender. There is no defined cut off point at which one must cease to identify as bisexual and must identify as gay/lesbian or straight because of a shift in attractions. Most bisexuals do not f eel equally attracted to both genders on a sexual and emotional levels and experience shifts in attraction levels to either genders.* Some bisexuals are not attracted to a gender per se, but are instead attracted to the person's personality or various other attributes and take note of gender afterwards, if at all. In these cases gender does not really come into play.
Myth # 5: "You can't be bisexual and be faithful to one person."

A person's decision to be monogamous with a partner is an individual choice influenced by many things involved in a relationship and in that person's own personality. Some bisexuals have open relationships and have relations with different people of different genders on different levels. Other bisexuals are in long term monogamous relationships, including faithful marriages. It is not unlike being straight or gay or lesbian and in a closed relationship. Different people simply make different choices as to how to go about relationships. This is not determined by the person's sexual orientation but rather by themselves and, in some cases, their partners.

Many bisexuals feel that they can be perfectly content with one person and don't have an overwhelming urge to carry on relations with two genders at once. This is analogous to being a part of a monogamous gay/lesbian or straight couple and choosing whether or not "cheat" on that partner. Or, in cases where both partners are involved in the decision of who is involved in there sexual lives, it is no different than being a straight 'swinging couple involved with other swinging couples (or individuals). Once again these are individual choices and are not a direct consequence of a person's sexual orientation.

 Myth # 6: "Bisexuals are much more likely to carry sexually transmitted diseases/infections"
  It's not who or what a person is that makes them more likely to carry diseases and infections. It is what a person DOES, the sexual practices of a person, in particular how well a person protects him/herself during sexual activities. The more educated one becomes about STD's the better protected one can be from infection.
Myth # 7 : "Bisexuals are more accepted by straight society."
  This myth has all been expressed by some as "Bisexuals are more accepted by gay/lesbian society." The truth is that although bisexual activists fight for many of the same rights as gay and lesbian people do, they are not always made to feel welcome as a part of the community/movement. The heterosexual community often groups bisexuals as being "confused or undercover homosexuals" and so rejects bisexuals and the concept of bisexuality. For the opposite reason some lesbian and gay people reject bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation and see the stigma and not the people. The fact is that many bisexual people feel as if they are somewhere in between the two worlds and feel both positive and negative feelings from both. This is not to say that lesbian, gay and bisexual people do not work together in the equal rights movement and accomplish great things.

To find out more information about bisexuality or Bi's and Allies, please e-mail us at:, or call us at the Pride Office on the UIC campus: (312) 996-4424.

Bi's and Allies -- a caucus of Pride @ UIC