This is a repeat of one of my first posts to soc.bi, but with the discussion of myths, flyers and such, it seemed appropriate.
What follows is something I put together for a workshop on bisexuality. (You may use it not-for-profit context, but please include this notice and the copyright, if you use it as a whole, or provide reasonable credits for partial quotes.)
This raises political questions. Gay and straight sexuality are not equally valued, and some people tell others what they should feel and how they must "choose".
There are no sharp lines around these regions of experience. People whose life stories seem similar identify themselves differently. I want to respect each person's self-understanding, rather than making rules for who is (or should be) "heterosexual", "homosexual" or "bisexual".
Thus, I define a "bisexual" using self-identity and orientation. At the same time, "bisexuality" in the sense of bisexual feelings or behavior may be present in other people besides self-identified bisexuals.
My definitions: "bisexuality" is sexual/affectional attraction to members of both sexes. (As with all sexuality, we may speak in terms of a person's potential, identity, feelings and sexual expression.) "A bisexual" is a person for whom bisexuality is an important part of their experience or identity. ("Bisexual" as an adjective may refer to either.)
Bisexuals face some stereotyping and exclusion from both sides (lesbians/gay men and straights).
While "bisexual" may be a temporary state or label for some people exploring their sexuality, for others, it is a lasting identity.
I question saying "Everyone is bisexual" or "Nobody is bisexual". Both deny some people's experience and make "bisexual" a meaningless distinction.
Being a bisexual doesn't imply one has two sexual relationships at once. (Monogamy & non-monogamy are a distinct question.)
Being bisexual doesn't imply one is (or can choose to be) sexually attracted to everyone. Erotic feeling is idiosyncratic, with urges as diverse as desires for "tall brunettes" or for "non-smoking politically-active vegetarians".
Being unconventional does not mean one has no morality, values or standards.
An integrated bisexual identity can have qualities beyond a simplistic "half and half" mix of gay and straight sensibility.
I can't accept an ethic that accepts exclusive heterosexuals or homosexuals because they "were made that way", but condemns bisexuals for making the "wrong choice". To me this "choice" is like asking "would you like to cut off your left hand or your right hand?".
Bisexuals share with gay men and lesbians the experiences of living with a heterosexist society and "coming out of the closet". Yet, to avoid stigma in the gay/lesbian communities they may find themselves in a second "closet" where they hide their bisexuality.
Bisexuals are not equally visible. A socially experienced bisexual may blend into both communities unless they make an effort to be "out". A bisexual in a long-term relationship who does not advertise their orientation will be assumed gay or straight.
Almost nowhere is where being bisexual the "norm". Thus, it is hard to convey by subtle hints that one is bisexual. Even if one wants "to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", this is a longer story than average.
Since bisexuals don't fit expectations, integrating a bisexual sexual identity is especially challenging. Ideally, this all might be very simple. In a society like ours that is polarized along male/female and straight/gay lines, things get more complex.
One source of diversity is the many different histories that may lead up to calling oneself bisexual. Here are a few variables one might use to classify personal histories:
People may see bisexuality as calling their own sexuality into question.
Conventionally, "We" are normal people (heterosexuals) and "They" are sexual deviants (homosexuals etc.) with no middle ground. Heterosexism is a major force for polarizing society.
Gay men or lesbians may have put a lot of effort into establishing their identity or community, or may be distancing themselves from past unpleasant heterosexual experiences. Bisexuality does not fit with separatism.
Bisexuals are seen to weaken the political argument that gay men/lesbians "don't have a choice".
Albert Lunde | Interfaith | *Y*Y* "A branch on the Albert-Lunde@nwu.edu | Bisexual | *Y* tree of life" firstname.lastname@example.org | Feminist |.......|.........................