I’m a Person, Not a Percentage

1/31/2019

Photo: istock/master1305

As an openly bi man, there are several questions that I get asked on a very regular basis, but the one that is asked of me most frequently is “What is your percentage?” Apparently, in order to validate one’s bisexuality, one must share their attraction to males or females in the form of a percentage to anyone who asks; otherwise, you’re apparently “hiding something” or “ashamed” of who you are. I’ve never been a fan of this question, yet have begrudgingly relented in the past and given an answer to those who are persistent.

However, the times of me sharing whatever random percentage can be pressured out of me by others are over. I am more than a percentage; I am a person who should not have to validate who I am to others through random statistics.

In my mind, the question itself highlights a deep misunderstanding of bisexuality as whole. In the past, I have given different percentages to different people, because at that time, that is how I was feeling. But to say that those were blanket statements that will remain absolute for the rest of my life would be incredibly misleading. To me, sexuality is not absolute; it is fluid. Furthermore, attraction can be affected by time, place, mood, and several other factors. One day, I might not be into someone because I’m simply in a bad mood; who knows what the next day will bring?

The point is, as a bi man, these perceived percentages are constantly in flux. I know that I am attracted to men and women, so why must I share additional quantitative data in order to validate myself to others? Why is my word not enough?

What’s even more disheartening is when someone does manage to weasel a percentage out of me, they decide to give their own assessment of my sexual orientation and/or start asking other, more invasive questions like below (all of which I have been asked on numerous occasions):

“Well, if it’s not 50/50, doesn’t that mean you’re actually gay/straight?”

“Well, which gender have you slept with more? Is that reflected in your percentage?”

“When was the last time you slept with a man vs. a woman?”

“Who do you think you’re going to marry? Will you want kids? Because that’ll be easier/more difficult with _____.”

“Why can’t you just choose one if you’re attracted to both?”

Of course, all of these questions are frustrating to be asked and again highlight a blatant misunderstanding and lack of respect towards bi individuals.

Unfortunately, due to how often these questions are asked, my answers (below) are always at the ready:

No, I am bi; just because it’s not 50/50 does not mean I am any less bi than any other person who identifies as such.

I do not need to provide you with a list of my sexual history in order to validate who I am.

None of your business.

Who do you think you’re going to marry? Do you know how this person feels about kids?

Because this is not a choice, nor should I have to choose.

I try my best to keep an even-temper when fielding these questions, because I know that some are born out of a genuine desire to learn. However, it still blows my mind that people feel like they deserve a detailed history of my thoughts, actions, and sexual history in order to believe me when I say, “I’m bisexual.”

How arrogant must one person be to think that they are the supreme authority on sexual orientation? What gives them the right to “review” my case for bisexuality and render a verdict of their own? And what makes them think that I need their input to validate who I am?

What’s more, is that oftentimes when I respond with answers listed above, I’m accused of being hostile or rude. Sorry, but I think it’s just a tad bit ruder to be demanding a detailed account of my sexual history in order to prove something that you really should just accept as truth to begin with. And making a ruling on something that really has nothing to do with you does not fall into the realm of common courtesy either.

If you have questions about bisexuality that are thoughtful, considerate, and appropriate, then by all means ask away. But do not expect me to happily reply to any and all questions that cross your mind. Take the time to really think about your questions and, if possible, try to do some research before you start interrogating a bi person; that is what will really lead to a productive, meaningful conversation.

Blaize Stewart
Blaize Stewart is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a BA in broadcast journalism and a MA in journalism. He currently lives in Chicago, IL and works as an influencer relations associate for a full-service influencer marketing agency called Faam and as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University. Additionally, he runs the LGBTQ+ blog Out Loud, a space for members to share their experiences and thoughts on current events and more.