How My Bisexuality is a Privilege
As bisexuality becomes more visible in mainstream media, there’s a lot of focus on what we are not. We’re not greedy. We’re not indecisive. We’re not cheaters or liars. We’re not confused or using the label as a stepping-stone to being “full-blown” gay. We’re not the bridge that links HIV from MSM (men who have sex with men) to women. And of course, we’re not (all) polyamorous. As someone who is polyamorous, this last one bothers me the most. By lumping in “we’re not polyamorous” with all of these other morally unethical attributes, we heavily insinuate that polyamory, too, is morally deviant. Needless to say, it isn’t. So while polyamory isn’t a definitional characteristic of bisexuals, many bi people are indeed polyamorous, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Additionally, with the bisexual movement gaining momentum, there’s a lot of talk about health disparities, and what we as a community need. We have a higher rate of depression, anxiety, suicidality, and domestic violence than our straight and gay counterparts. We have higher feelings of isolation. And the LGBTQ+ community hardly devotes any money and resources to bisexual groups. In 2014 less than one percent of LGBTQ+ grant dollars were distributed to bisexual specific causes. Given that nearly half of the LGBT community identifies as bisexual, our lack of funding is in no way proportional to the number of identified bisexuals in the LGBTQ+ community.
Of course, I am happy that this data is making its way into more mainstream news sources. We do need funding, and we do need to address bisexual health disparities immediately. We also need to tell the world that we aren’t a number of negative stereotypes.
But that’s not what this piece is about. In this piece, I want to focus on what we are, as bisexuals. I want to focus on why I love being bisexual. Why it is not only a blessing, but a privilege that I was able to discover my (bi)sexuality. And even if I was magically presented the option to press a button and turn either gay or straight, I would never, in a million years, change my sexual orientation.
So here they are. Five reasons I love being bisexual and am thankful for being born this way.
1. My bisexuality has changed the way I view the world.
When I speak to gay or straight folks, they often, (of course not all), view the world in a very black and white manner. You’re either this or that. That’s it. But as a bisexual man, my sexuality, which is a core component of my very identity, isn’t black or white. Sometimes I prefer women more than men and vice-a-versa. Sometimes, I feel accepted by the gay community. Other times, I feel like an outsider. Bisexuality is a much more complex sexual identity than monosexuality (either gay or straight). It’s a sexuality that requires a capacity to view the world through a grayer lens. Because of this, bisexual people have a better understanding of liminality. And when one aspect of your identity is liminal, you can easily see how other aspects of your identity are too. This shifts the way you approach everything in the world: from how you interact with friends to how you problem solve.
2. My bisexuality has taught me how to empathize.
Still, so many people doubt and question my sexuality. It’s infuriating, but I’ve learned I don’t need to prove my sexuality to anyone. Nevertheless, because of this, I take people at their word. I believe transgender folk when they say they’re trans, because just like them, I’ve been questioned and dismissed for a fundamental part of my identity. For me, it’s sexuality; for trans folks, it’s gender. Even though it’s not the exact same, I can empathize.
3. My bisexuality has helped me prioritize what’s important in my life.
In the years I was closeted, I experienced confusion and self-loathing nearly every day. So many years of my life I couldn’t sleep. I self-medicated. I engaged in various maladaptive and destructive behaviors (i.e., drinking until I’m blackout in order to sleep with a man, having unprotected sex, etc.). I wasted so much time in a deep, dark, and nasty place that when I was finally honest with myself about my sexuality, I realized what’s actually important in life. While it sounds cliche, the two most important things in my life are good people and good relationships. I don’t have time for people who don’t accept my identity fully. I don’t have time for people who don’t call me back. I don’t have time for people who “could maybe see themselves dating someone who’s bisexual, but would really need to work on it.” Sorry, but no. I’ve already wasted too much of my life. I can’t waste the rest of it, waiting for you monosexuals to come around and accept who I am.
4. My bisexuality has taught me that there are more than platonic and romantic relationships.
This goes back to viewing the world differently and having a better understanding of liminality. I always used to dichotomize people into two groups: platonic friend or sexual partner. But just like sexuality, there is a spectrum of relationships that can occur. You can have an emotional connection with someone that you don’t sleep with. You can sleep with someone you don’t love. You can have a flirty friend you sometimes hook up with. There’s so much more than just-friend and romantic-partner, but these novel types of relationships can only blossom if you’re open to the idea of them happening.
5. My bisexuality allows me to be a part of the queer community
We are by no means as large as the gay community, and not even as close to as large as the straight community. (I’m not even sure what a “straight community” actually entails.) But we do exist, and we have other people like us. And there’s nothing better in the world than finding a group of like-minded bi and queer people to cherish as friends and partners.