It’s Not About “Choosing A Side”

5/20/2017

Just like the rest of the world, bi people are individuals with idiosyncratic preferences that go beyond sexual orientation. Some folks prefer to use dating apps, or to meet in person at bars. Some folks have rules against dating coworkers, and other folks are totally open to meeting the love of their life in the workplace. Bisexuality adds one more interesting factor to this. In the case of bi people, idiosyncrasies like these can manifest themselves as a kind of preference (temporary or permanent) for dating one or another sex. This preference doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how we feel about this or that sex, though. It can simply be a side effect of other preferences we have, such as the ways we like to meet potential partners or the atmospheres in which we feel most comfortable.

Some bi men feel more comfortable dating women, and some of us feel more comfortable dating men. Until recently, I tended to think of these preferences in terms of simply preferring one sex to another – which is fine if and when that’s the case. But, I realize now, these apparent preferences are sometimes more complicated than that. One factor, in some cases, is cultural. Since most towns and cities don’t offer much in the way of bi spaces, we bi folks are stuck choosing between ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ culture much of the time. And our degree of comfort in each of those spaces can have an enormous impact upon our dating life – and even our perceived dating preferences.

Bi guys who happen to enjoy the atmosphere of ‘gay culture’ sometimes just naturally gravitate to men more – due to their preferred spaces and activities. Similarly, bi men who do not feel so comfortable in ‘gay culture’ sometimes date more women because they have more opportunities to meet women in ‘mainstream culture.’ I have lots of bi male friends who live for gay culture – because they like the crowded dance floors and the parades and the easy, casual sex. Some of them, such as fellow Bi.org writer Zachary Zane, have acknowledged this makes it harder for them to meet women. Zach probably likes girls just as much as I do, but he spends more time in ‘gay spaces,’ so he just doesn’t have the opportunity to act on that attraction.

My very attractive furry buddy

By contrast, I have never felt very comfortable in gay spaces. I’ve done the gay bar scene enough times to know it’s just not for me. And it’s not because I don’t like guys. It’s because I don’t care for loud music and nightclub dancing. I would much rather go for a long walk in the park with my dog and a cup of coffee (which, it turns out, is an excellent way to meet women – especially if your furry buddy is as cute as mine).

So, here we are. Two bi guys. We are both attracted to men and women, but Zach is more comfortable meeting guys and I’m more comfortable meeting women. In the end, this speaks more to our lifestyles than our sexual or romantic preferences (not that there is anything wrong with having such a preference – I just don’t). In a world where bi people usually have to decide to do a “mainstream” activity or a “gay” one, no wonder so many of us feel pressured – even subconsciously – to “choose a side.” There is an obvious solution to this problem.

We need more bi centered spaces. Bi people outnumber gay people. It’s a fact. But we also tend to be more closeted and less visible even when we are out, but fortunately that trend has been changing. Generic ‘LGBT’ spaces tend to be dominated by monosexual folks. So, we bi people need bi centered spaces. And I mean in real life, not only online (although online community is also very important). If we had the option of immersing ourselves in bi culture, instead of having to choose between gay or straight culture, I suspect most of us would feel pretty at home in the bi spaces.

with amBi at LA Pride

A few years ago, I joined a social club called amBi in Los Angeles. (Since then, amBi has been growing to other towns and cities). At the time, I didn’t realize just how much I needed this bi centered community. But boy, did I! I’ve never before felt so comfortable in my skin. Today, most of my friends are bi. And I’m not stuck with one foot in ‘straight’ life and one foot in ‘gay’ life. I’m freely living with both feet squarely in my openly bi life every day. It’s amazing. And it has definitely made my dating life more diverse and interesting.

If you’re interested in joining amBi, you can do so at their website: www.amBi.org. They can help you start a bi community where you live if there isn’t one already.

Rio Veradonir
Contributing Editor
Rio Veradonir is a contributing editor for Bi.org. He studied creative writing at Southern Oregon University and is a Lead Organizer for amBi - the world's largest bi social club (visit amBi.org for more information). You can follow Rio on Twitter @RioVeradonir.