#27BiStories: Why a Bisexual's Sexual Orientation Is Still Important Even If They're in a Relationship

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Actor and Broadway showman extraordinaire Alan Cumming has identified as bisexual for quite some time. Yet, after he married Grant Shafter, media outlets labeled him a “gay man.” Cumming has had to correct time and time again individuals, mainstream media, and LGBT outlets that mislabel him — and erase his bisexuality.

For many bisexuals, there's an added stress to being in a relationship: the need to keep coming out and then often explain their sexuality to new groups of people. Some bisexuals in opposite-gender relationships may feel alienated in queer spaces while those in same-gender relationships may feel defensive about whether their sexual orientation is being fully acknowledged.

#27BiStories features people in all types of relationships: polyamorous, monogamous, married, and coupled up but without a label, yet one thing is the same — their bisexuality. So when a person is in a relationship of any kind, does their sexual orientation still matter? It certainly does. 

This is #27BiStories.

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Is your sexual identity still important even though you’re in a same- or different-gender relationship? If so, why?

April, 45, Iowa: My sexuality is always important. I feel very strongly that it’s important I make sure I am always out! My relationship does not define my sexuality.

Jan, 51 & Hew, 45, California: Well, sure. I'm not dead. I'm still attracted to women. I'm a writer, and it comes out a lot in my writing. My husband and I are both bi activists — he has hosted Berkeley BiFriendly, a bi conversational group, once a month for 20 years. I won a Lambda Literary Award for bi writing and have been published in Bi Women's Quarterly, Bi Magazine, Bi Tribune, The Fence, Anything That Moves, etc. Every year we march together in the Bay Area Bisexuals Network contingent of S.F. Pride. It's a huge part of who I am.

Nicole, 31, Washington: Identifying as queer/bisexual is important to me because it's just who I am. I can't wake up and stop being queer. It doesn't work that way. I woke up queer the day I met my husband. I woke up queer the day after we got engaged. I woke up queer the day we got married and every day after that. I'll go to bed tonight and wake up queer tomorrow, just like I'll go to bed tonight and wake up still married and still in love with a man who loves me for me, queer and all. Identifying as queer/bisexual is also important to me because there are still people who ask, "So you were just gay until graduation, right?" I've worked with people who feel it's OK to point at same-sex couples on the break room television and tell me how "gross" they think they are because they think I'm straight and won't mind. I still meet people who tell me bisexuals don't exist and it makes me crazy. Don't get me wrong, I struggle with self-imposed bi erasure like anyone else. Sometimes I'm silent when I shouldn't be. Sometimes I hesitate before I use proper pronouns to talk about my exes. Sometimes I worry about what people will think about my husband for marrying a girl who used to date girls. But that's why it's important to me that I identify as bisexual, because I know there are countless others out there dealing with the same thing and visibility is key. 

Ted, 45, Colorado: My sexual identity is still extremely important to me. I have two primary partners who are female and I would very much like to have a boyfriend again. My attraction to men has not lessened, and both of my partners are 100 percent supportive of that. A bigger issue with me has been finding the time to meet quality guys. My schedule has been pretty rough for the last two years and I find myself in a position where I have to make time to date guys because it is so important to me. Although, I may start taking advantage of the local bath house soon, because I am fed up with the drought.

Elisa, 55, California: Yes. Bisexuals need to be out and visible. Too many people — including ourselves sometimes — leap to the conclusion that we're gay, lesbian, or straight, based on the perceived gender of our perceived partner.

Robyn, 55, Masachusetts: My sexual orientation is independent of my behavior at any particular moment of my life. I was bisexual from age 18 tp 23, when my bisexuality existed only in my own head. I was bisexual from 23 to 32, when I was mostly in a series of monogamous relationships. I was bisexual in my early-to-mid-30s, when I took a break from relationships and sex. And I am just as bisexual now, in my 17-year relationship with the woman with whom I just celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. 

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