A User’s Guide to Dismantling Bi Stereotypes

10/14/2017

I get why a lot of people don’t like labels. They can be limiting and pigeonhole folx in multiple ways. And one of the main hang-ups with labels – chosen, assigned, or otherwise – is they can conjure up stereotypes.

Stereotypes are rarely helpful. They often perform as cultural shorthand for dismissal, a way to quickly process and categorize people. No wonder people aren’t fans of them (other than lazy stand-up comedians.)

When I started to come out to people as a teenager, part of that process was pushing back at some stereotypes I had encountered along the way. Most of them were homophobic in nature because bisexuality was seen as a mere pit stop on the way to coming out as gay. But as time marched on, and media and culture started to talk about bisexuality more openly, the stereotypes cropped up as part of the dialogue.

Well. I’m here to combat every bi stereotype I can think of. Why? Because I think when we see the list all together here, it’ll be clear as day how absurd it is to assume any – and sometimes all – of these things about a person because they uttered one word. I’m sure there are some I missed – let me know and I’ll try to write a sequel list!

This concept is inspired by Claire Ayoub’s “A Series of Comebacks.” In case you need a visual aid, please pretend I’m saying these retorts in the same tone as the Mocking SpongeBob meme.

Oh, Jennie – you may be saying to your computer – why are you telling us ahead of time you’re gonna tell us jokes? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose a comedic writer like you claims to be?

Well, Comments Section, I’m trying to get ahead of the curve here. I don’t like telegraphing jokes, either. But I figured if I wrote IN BIG BOLD LETTERS ahead of time that this is a CLEAR EXERCISE IN SARCASM, I wouldn’t get as much silly pushback. (Okay, I’ll stop yelling now.)

****

Let’s begin, shall we?

You’re just greedy.

I am. I can’t help myself. Men, women, anyone I see. I have no self-control. Also, I eat every cookie I see on a tray at a party. It’s just how I’m wired.

I’ll bet you can’t maintain a relationship.

Nope. If I go on more than three dates with someone, I’ll burst into flames. I stay single for the good of the country.

So you’re half-gay, then?

Yup! Right down my long axis.

Oh, you’re just on the way to Gay-Town.

That makes it sound like I’m on a layover in Chicago.  Which would be hell if you thought Chicago was only O’Hare. But Chicago is diverse and beautiful and totally fun to live in.

People love and live in Chicago, too.

You’re just going through a phase.

Yes. A phase that started in the Bush administration. The senior Bush administration. And it has only grown stronger.

Just wait til you see Phase Two. This isn’t even my final form.

Hehe, that makes you a double dipper, then.

What, like a Magnum ice cream cone?

I don’t really see a problem with that. Except, you know, for the problems of keeping a jungle cat as a pet in the city. The permits alone …

Oh, so you MUST be polyamorous, then.

Oh, you mean when I can date someone long enough for a relationship (see above), then it can only be in the form of a coven? Or a fleet? Yup. That makes so much sense.

So you’re sexually attracted to everyone?

Yes. Everyone. Jonathan. The First Earl of Ipswich. My tax girl. No one is safe.

Ooh, then you’re totally kinky.

Mm-hmmm. My Red Room of Pain makes mortals blush. Also, since we’ve been talking deductibles, Tax Girl, can I write off the room?

You only do it for attention from guys.

Bingo.  When I make out with girls on mountaintops (and I have), it’s only with the hope that somehow, somewhere, some dude is watching and the sight gives him joy. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?

I go on about it every chance I get.

I do. I really do. My dentist is so over it.

You just talk about being bi to make people feel uncomfortable.

… You don’t?

But really. It took me almost fifteen years to say more than one word or sentence about being bi in public. But, please don’t let my hard internal journey stop you long enough at a cocktail party to give you heebie-jeebies.

Bisexuality was just a thing you tried in college, right?

Nope. Uggs and skirts were my college experiment. Not a good look on me, but hey, to each their own.

That means you only listen to gay music, right? Like Melissa Etheridge?

…. Okay, but have you seen her legendary performance of “Piece of My Heart” while she was going through chemo?

How can you not admire that?

(Oh, side note: Janis was #Bi2, so this is kind of like a musical Queer-ception.)

You all love puns, right?

God, we do. It’s like a pun-itentiary up in here. Keep asking me this and you’ll drown in lingual duality.

Oh, you just do it when you get drunk.

That’s right – only bis engage in regrettable make-outs when we’ve had too many beers. That is our sole burden to bear.

… But you still wanna watch, right, Jason?

Gosh, so many of these preconceived notions benefit dudes, don’t they?

So do you like hot dogs or tacos? (insert immature laughter)

Yes! Both! AND ONLY BOTH. My internist is very worried.

****

Okay, now that we’ve gotten through all that snark and my fellow bis are armed next time they come across some assumptions … do you wanna know what I am actually like?

I’m a dreamer.

I love breakfast burritos more than some people.

I geek out about astronomy and Shakespeare any chance I get.

I have absolutely no game when it comes to women or non-binary folx – aka no bi-fi. But I was also culturally indoctrinated to know when men were attracted to me. Still oblivious sometimes.

Doesn’t matter when it happens, or how many times I see it – if I’m watching a show and someone pratfalls out of the frame, I will always giggle.

I like to dance AT my cat. Not with – AT.

I’m monogamous once I’m committed to someone, and have no issues with those who are non-monogamous as long as they’re ethical about it.

I adore fashion.

I’m terrified of runny eggs. I know intellectually they’re cooked, but the sight of them makes me gag. Brunch is a minefield.

I’m an actor and a screenwriter and a sometimes-novelist.

Sometimes I start cleaning impulsively at midnight.

I’m much stronger than I look.

I’m left handed.

I’m a damn loyal friend.

I’ve slept on the floors of churches and in Hollywood Hills mansions in equal amounts.

I’ve harbored marriage proposals in foreign countries.

I’m an activist and a feminist and I don’t think either of those are dirty words.

I can make a beer ice cold in fifteen minutes and probably get you to belly-laugh within thirty minutes of meeting you.

I love dating. I hate online dating.

I would drop-kick my brother for a chance to helm the Starship Enterprise.

Oh, and personally I hate puns, but that’s because I dated someone who used them so often I got sick of them.

I donate to charities and I volunteer.

I foster kittens so they have a chance to grow up and get adopted by loving homes.

And I am proudly, loudly bi.

Any questions?

Jennie Roberson

Jennie Roberson is an actress and screenwriter who resides in Los Angeles. She recently completed her first novel, a bisexual young adult caper. When she’s not busy playing incredibly dorky sports or dreaming of forming her own cat army, you can find more of her musings at @JennieRoberson on Twitter.