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

If a bisexual person is in a relationship, why is it important they're still labeled as bisexual?

BY Eliel Cruz

August 28 2014 11:00 AM ET

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

Leah, 22, Colorado: It's still important to me, even though I am in a relationship with a guy. I want to know that people understand what it is to be a bisexual and for there to be realistic representation in the media. I want there to be equality on all fronts and for it not to be taboo to be a bisexual. 

Dave, 27, Scotland: Yes. Society is still wired, although things are changing, albeit slowly, to assume that everyone is straight unless confirmed otherwise. The problem with being bi is that coming out will be a continual process. My wife is straight, and a woman — my appearance to the outside world is that we are a straight couple. When someone makes a derogatory comment about the LGBT community, it gets my back up, as I just don't like people who are assholes, but principally I don't believe that people should be allowed to be mocked or seen as lesser for being who they are.

With this in mind I am just tired of lying by omission — I've been called "the gayest straight guy I know" more times than I know, and while maybe I verge on the campier side of life at times. I don't like to "pretend" I'm straight. The way I see it, when people and society give you a reason to believe that being you is wrong, unnatural, and something to be ashamed of, it’s really damaging. I know it’s affected my confidence. Laverne Cox put it really well in her recent interview for the It Gets Better campaign: “Who you are authentically is all right. The shame is what kills you.” This really resonated with me.

Evan, 40, California: Of course it is. I find the "why" component to this question a little offensive (though I know it isn't the intent). Would we ask a straight or gay person in a relationship if their identity were still important to them? I am bisexual. It is important that we all recognize and respect each other’s identities regardless of our relationship status. Married, dating, or single I will always be bisexual and will always be concerned with promoting both bisexual and general LGBTQ+ issues.

Beth, 42, Minnesota: You bet it’s important! It’s important because I believe we all have the right to define ourselves, choose the labels we want to use or don’t want, and claim all aspects of ourselves, whether they stay the same throughout our lives or they change. It’s also important because I’ve never identified as a lesbian. That’s a perfectly fine label for those who claim it, but it’s not mine. Moreover, the bisexual community was one of the first communities I felt I truly belonged to as a young adult. I have many bi friends, and I’ve learned a lot by getting to know bi activists who focus on social justice and intersectional progressive politics.

Ultimately, to say I’m bisexual is to say that gender is not part of the equation when it comes to whom I’m attracted to. And it also means I can appreciate the beauty of humanity in all its diversity, all its various genders and gender expressions. Not to mention that my bi partner and I can talk about who we think is hot in a TV show or a movie, and gender is irrelevant to the discussion for both of us!

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Jake, 26, Washington, D.C.: I struggled for about six years during junior high and most of high school to accept who I am. Once I realized and accepted I truly am bisexual, it took another five years until I even told someone, and then another four years until I fully went public with my identity. I consider it a blessing to have somehow discovered the term “bisexual” very early on so I was able to discover who I am perhaps quicker than I would’ve had I not known about the term “bisexual.”

It took me basically 14 years from the moment I realized I was something other than heterosexual until I was completely ready to reveal myself as bisexual. That is more than half of my life. I don’t want another teenager (or anyone else for that matter) be forced to hide their sexual or gender identity as long as I did. I know it had damaging effects on me, specifically with my OCD (especially concerning appearances and reputation), periods of mild depression, and episodes of anxiety I experience occasionally. I don’t want to others to suffer as I have and still do some days. I especially want others to know they don’t have to conform to society’s usual standards of black/white, this/that, straight/gay, etc.

I have been mocked for being bisexual, especially by gay men, and I don’t want others to feel ashamed for not conforming to someone else’s ideas of who they should be. I know I like men and women, and I’m no longer going to apologize for or hide that fact. I’m not saying I still don’t always correct people when they assume I’m something else (usually gay, occasionally heterosexual), but I’m not going to be steamrolled into a label/group I don’t belong to.

And despite all of this, I’ll admit that even as recently as my senior year of university I was quite transphobic, not understanding what being trans truly was all about. So even while I felt I had to hide my own identity as bisexual, my thoughts at the time (even if they were not often stated) forced trans persons to do the same. I am still ashamed of this fact, and I suppose I’m trying to make up for lost time by no longer hiding that I’m bisexual and calling for others to use whatever labels they want for their gender and sexuality (thanks, Kate Bornstein!) because such things are much more fluid and varied than most people think.

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