Legitimacy of Bisexuality
Of all the denominations of gender identity, bisexuality may have the hardest process of self-questioning and self-acceptance. Bisexuality is defined as one’s sexual attraction to members of the opposite sex as well as the same sex. By this fact, someone who identifies as bisexual is often faced with immense identity confusion. The legitimacy of bisexuality is also constantly questioned, especially when you have super stars such as Katy Perry who portray bisexuality as a fashionable idea that can be the “in” thing one day and out the next. Along with frivolous representations of bisexuality by the famous, the everyday average Joe often gives bisexuality a negative image by taking a harmful advantage of it. For example, teenagers who are afraid to admit to themselves and to others that they are gay, whether it’s because of societal or familial pressures, will often come out as bisexual, or teenagers seeking attention will come out as bisexual. The general public’s disbelief is also another obstacle the bisexual community must face. The attitude of “you can’t be bisexual; you can only be one or the other, not both” doesn’t help bisexuality’s case for legitimacy. Personally, I identify as gay, but through my experience in high school and in life, I have met some wonderful and not-so-wonderful people who identify as bisexual who have inspired me to realize that bisexuality is, in fact, a legitimate denomination.
For someone who identifies as bisexual or suspects themselves of being bi, the journey to accept themselves and find acceptance in others is often harder than someone who is gay or lesbian. The concept of bisexuality is often confusing. How can one be sexually attracted to both men and women? It is already confusing when you suspect yourself to be sexually attracted to a member of the same gender, then you add attraction to the opposite sex and you have entered a whole new realm of identity confusion. A large part of the problem is the social norms that have been in place since the dawn of the modern industrial age. It is expected for a boy to be attracted to a girl and a girl to a boy; when one or the other experiences attraction to both sexes, it shatters every kind of norm that dictates the rule of attraction.
In its own, finding who you are and coming to terms with your sexuality is difficult; add the disbelief of the general public and the task becomes nearly impossible. A persisting stereotype exists in society of bisexuality; that it is a cover up by gay people to hide the true nature of their sexuality. This stereotype appears time and time again, and has even appeared amongst my own friends, the most open and accepting straight people I have ever met. Whenever I mention someone new I met who identifies as bisexual, my friends unanimously agree that they are actually gay, but are afraid to admit it. This stereotype is predictably unfair and hurtful to those who are actually genetically attracted to both men and women. Though with my gay friends, their reactions are mixed; some agree that bisexuality exists and is real, though others share the same thoughts as my straight friends. The opinions of both my straight friends and my gay friends are also largely reflected across the straight and gay communities, not only at my school and school system, but across the country as a whole. Along with the previously mentioned stereotype, bisexuality has also been described as a call for help, or the first stop on the way to full homosexuality.
Along with the persisting stereotypes, the legitimacy of bisexuality is further threatened by the people who use it as a means to gain attention as well as people who do in fact use it as a cop out. Girls claiming to be bi to turn on their boyfriends and boys doing the same for their girlfriends, people covering up any possible experimentation or their true orientation, or people wanting the social spotlight to be pointed on them are all examples of people taking a harmful advantage of bisexuality. When people do this, they harm bisexuality’s image, marginalize the orientation as a whole, and destroy the individual reputations of bisexual people. It is hard to accept bisexuality as legitimate when people decide to use it as a front.
It doesn’t help when even the famous display bisexuality in a frivolous light. Stars such as Katy Perry and Britney Spears often flaunt their sexuality in public and portray bisexuality as the next or current fashionable trend. Katy Perry sang about kissing a girl in the aptly titled song “I Kissed A Girl” and Britney Spears famously kissed fellow musician Madonna, who herself has flaunted her sexuality previously, at the 2003 MTV Music Awards, the same Awards that featured a kiss between Madonna and Christina Aguilera. The point of these examples is that if the famous take bisexuality lightly, then so will others; their respective fan base will follow their example and take bisexuality lightly. This translates into more people falsely coming out as bi and forcing the marginalization of actual bisexual people.
Though, it may seem that bisexuality’s case may be in over its head, the opposite is true. Bisexuality has more allies than critics; the case for its legitimacy is stronger than the case for its illegitimacy. Advocacy groups, the famous, and the average Joe have all in their own way proven the legitimacy of bisexuality. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, and even some of my friends have all provided excellent examples that prove bisexuality to be legitimate. Scientific studies done by Northwestern University and others provide scientific evidence that support bisexuality’s legitimacy. The support for bisexuality is overwhelming; the public outcry given after every anti-bisexual statement made is deafening. Faced with hurdles and opposition around every corner, truly legitimate bisexual people are no longer taking the marginalization lying down. Everyone I’ve met in the bisexual community have all unanimously agreed that they are sick and tired of the constant disbelief, the rejection, and the abuse that bisexuality receives on a daily basis.
It’s close minded to think that sexuality is black and white with very little or no gray area in between; when in fact, the majority of someone’s sexuality exists in the gray area. I mean, outside of bisexuality, transgender, pansexuality, and asexuality are some other denominations that exist in the gray area of sexuality. By denouncing bisexuality, you are also denouncing these others, and even though they exist on the fringe of the gender queer community, they still are as important as or even more so than the big two, gay and lesbian. So not only are you insulting bisexuals, but you are also insulting a large part of the gay community when you go and denounce bisexuality.
The point of this essay was to argue that bisexuality is legitimate, and it really is. When you honestly think about it, it is almost futile to believe that bisexuality is a farce. I mean I used to be one who believed that sexuality was black and white with no gray area, that you’re either gay or straight. It wasn’t until I met a ton of new people that I realized that I was wrong and that you can be sexually attracted to both men and women. Though, just because there are legitimate bisexuals, it doesn’t mean that everyone who identifies as bisexual is legitimate. It all depends on who you meet; before, when I had those archaic thoughts about bisexuality, I had only met people who identified as bisexual in order to satisfy carnal pleasures, it was only until after I met and made new friends that my views on bisexuality changed. So, in short order, bisexuality is a legitimate section of the gender queer community, and despite those who believe otherwise, it can only get better from here.