“So....you’re straight now?”
When I told a close friend of mine that my partner and I had been talking about marriage, this was, verbatim, her response. I must have looked like a puppy that realizes you’re talking, but doesn’t yet understand what you’re saying—head tilted to the side, a look of confusion in my eyes as I tried to search out in her face just what the fuck she was talking about.
It hadn’t occurred to me until just then that a lot of people presumed that being bisexual meant never settling down with one person. In that moment, I realized just how many commonly held myths there were regarding bisexuality, some so prevalent that even friends who had known me for years still believed them.
It was then that I got the idea for By the Bi, and decided to start out with a list of the most commonly held myths about bisexuality:
1. All bisexuals are promiscuous.
This is arguably the most common myth about bisexuals. There seems to be an assumption that because one is attracted to both men and women, they must be sleeping with every person they meet. While I'm sure that's true of some bisexuals (just as it is for some homosexuals and some heterosexuals), it is certainly not a requirement. Plenty of bisexual people are in committed, monogamous relationships and are celibate when not in a relationship. Bisexuality and promiscuity have nothing to do with one another.
2. We are all polyamorous.
I'm betting some of you don't even recognize the word "polyamorous" (my spell check certainly doesn't!), yet a lot of people still think it's a synonym of "bisexual". It's not. Polyamority is the dating of more than one person at a time, with the full consent of all parties. One of the questions I get asked most about my sexuality is if I have a boyfriend and a girlfriend. No, I don't. I've had both, yes, but never at the same time. In fact, I know exactly one polyamorous bisexual and three that are straight. It's not a common lifestyle in general, and it's certainly not exclusive to bisexuals.
3. Bisexuality doesn't really exist/is just a phase
To be honest, I find this one ridiculous, which makes how common it is somewhat disturbing. Setting aside the shocking gall it takes to tell someone they are incorrect about their own orientation, the fact that countless people have publicly dated both men and women throughout entire lifetimes should be enough to make its existence obvious. Still, many people think that bisexuality is one of two things: a stage that gays go through before they come fully out of the closet, or a way for teenaged girls to separate themselves from their peers. Well, folks, I've been "out" since I was 14, and I am about to turn 31. If this is a phase, it's a pretty freakin' long one.
4. Once we make a lifelong commitment, we cease to be bisexual.
There's a strange idea out there that settling down means we've "made up our minds", that committing to one person determines once and for all whether we are gay or straight. My question for those people is always "will you stop being attracted to men/women when you get married?". Of course not. You'll just stop acting on those attractions (hopefully...). I don't think there's a person out there who can say they never again found another person desirable after they walked down the aisle, and the same is true for us. Whether I marry a man or a woman, I will still be attracted to both.
5. We claim to be bisexual because it's trendy/to get attention.
This one even seeps into the bisexual community itself. A lot of us look suspiciously upon 15 year old girls that proclaim bisexuality, wondering if they are just making that claim to be trendy or get the attention of men. It's possible some of them are, of course. Teenagers do a lot of things because it’s trendy or to get attention, and we can never be sure if that is why some people claim to be bisexual or not. Still, I know a lot of us knew we were bisexual from a young age, and many of us realized that in a time when it was not trendy or likely to garner good attention. So not only is this a misconception, as we know from our own experiences, but it is also a judgment that we have no right to make.
In the end, we must all realize that sexuality is personal and individual, rising far above our own assumptions and stereotypes. There is but one safe assumption to make about bisexuals, and that is that we are attracted to both men and women. Everything else depends on the individual in question.
And, just for the record, no, I am not straight now.