Bisexuality is Not “New” or “Hip”

1/30/2017

When I started coming out as bi, my biggest fear was that people wouldn’t believe me. They’d think I was confused, or simply going through a stage, or using the label as a stepping stone to being full-blown gay. Now, I don’t fear their questions or their doubts. I know I’m bi. I know down to my very core, and nothing anyone can ever say will rattle my identity. I’ve also learned now that I don’t have to engage with folks if I don’t want to. If someone is rude or in any way disparaging, bye bye. I’m done justifying my sexuality to strangers.

Now I have a new fear when coming out. It’s not that people won’t believe it, it’s that they’ll somehow belittle my sexuality by thinking it’s “new” or “hip.”

I’d say that’s now the most common response I receive from naysayers. Something along the lines of, “Yeah, everyone your age is bisexual now.”

Obviously, that’s not true, (though I wish it were), but I understand why people think bisexuality is this new sexuality that’s suddenly emerging. We, as a community, have been killing it recently. Prior to 2010, bisexuality was hardly in the mainstream media. Whenever it was, it was often mentioned as some form of afterthought to gay/lesbians. In recent years, we’ve really made a push to be visible, represented, and no longer an afterthought and it’s paying off.

I know I’m enmeshed in the bi community, but I feel like I’m seeing more and more articles that focus on the needs of bi people. I’m seeing more articles about about how we’re represented in the media, bi health disparities, and personal narratives that discuss some of the struggles of identifying as bi. Additionally, more and more individuals are feeling comfortable with labeling themselves as bi, which is leading to more folks identifying as bi. This it turn increases visibility and makes more people feel comfortable coming out.

This is awesome. It’s really, really good news.

However, because of this, many monosexuals (people attracted to only one gender) think that bisexuality is this “new, hip emerging sexuality among millennials” instead of realizing that bisexuality has been around forever. It’s just that now, we’re finally feeling empowered to come out, leading people to think that bisexuality is somehow new.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course, bisexuality has been around since the dawn of humankind, and was ubiquitous in Ancient ChinaAncient Rome, and Premodern Japan (just to name a few cultures). Not to mention we see it in nature all the time, as there are dozens of animals who engage in bisexual behaviors.

The idea that bisexuality is hip undermines the legitimacy of our sexual orientation and identity. By making bisexuality seem like a trend, it perpetuates the notion that, like any trend, bisexuality will disappear. But our bisexuality is more than temporary. It is not a fad.

Thinking of bisexuality as a trend is also rooted in ageism. More younger folks are identifying as bisexual. There’s this idea, that because we’re younger, we can’t have any certainty about our sexuality. We must still be confused or figuring things out because of our relative youth.

This is a bunch of nonsense and something which which I continually struggle. Because of my relatively young age, people assume that I couldn’t possibly know my own sexuality. Of course, straight folks know by the time they’re 25 that they’re straight, and so too do many gay folks know that they’re gay. Because I’m bisexual, they assume there’s no way I can know for sure.

Thinking of bisexuality as exclusively a youth trend also erases the experience of all the bi folks who are not millennials, many of whom have been out for decades. Bisexuality is an orientation that doesn’t stop when you turn 30, when you get married, when you start a family, or when you retire. Just like straightness, bisexuality isn’t only for the young.

I think one of the challenges we, as a community, will face going forward is reminding folks that we aren’t new. We’re not snowflakes who want special attention. And just because we’re now gaining a voice, doesn’t mean that we didn’t exist previously. Our voice was previously silenced; now it’s not. We’ve been around forever, and we’re always going to be around.

So no, I’m not coming out as bi because I’m a man in my twenties. I’m not doing it because it’s hip and because other people are doing it. I’m not bi for anyone else except for me. I am bi. I will always be bi. My bisexuality isn’t trendy. Don’t belittle me by telling me, either implicitly or explicitly, that my sexuality is “so totally in right now.”

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.