Karine Jean-Pierre
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#27BiStories: Appearing Straight, Appearing Gay, and Other Misconceptions Bi People Face

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What is the biggest misconception you face about your current relationship? 

Bill, 45, New York: I have been married to a woman for about 20 years. I came out as bi about five years ago. Since my wife knew me as straight for many years, there was some adjustment when I came out. I think the biggest misconception initially was that she assumed I was gay but was just being polite (or hadn't fully figured myself out yet). It took a lot of reassurance (including her seeing again and again that, yes, I did enjoy having sex with her) before she came to accept that I wasn't gay. Next misconception was that I might be better off with another bi partner, because I would be bored with her being "just a straight woman."

The next one is related to the last — that I would want to leave the relationship to be with a man because that is something she can't offer me. I think over time she has come to realize that relationships are relationships whether they are same- or opposite-sex. They all have their ups and down. If you're happy with someone, you are lucky and you should enjoy it. But, with that said, I still think she believes that one day I'll end up with a man.

Laura, 48, Netherlands: I am married to a woman now, since a little over a year. My wife is a lesbian; she has no problems with me being bisexual. In 2005 I divorced from my husband, with whom I was in a relationship with for almost 20 years. My ex and I have two sons together in their 20s.

Before I met my wife, I dated a lesbian woman. She said now you’re dating me, you’re a lesbian. And when you’re dating a guy, you’re straight. I tried explaining to her that it didn’t work that way, but she was offended and didn’t really believe me.

Being bisexual is my nature, not determined by the sex of my partner. Even if I never would have dated a woman or a man, I would still be bisexual. It would only mean that that what I am looking for, I did not find in women or men up till this moment. That can change with the next woman or man or not. Even if I would be on my deathbed and only would have dated one gender, that still does not mean that I am not bisexual.

Then there’s the misconception that as a bisexual you always need both genders to be happy. For me that is absolutely not true. I need to be faithful to be happy; cheating would make me incredibly unhappy. So I am a one-partner woman.

When I was with my husband, I looked at other men and also at women. Now I am with my wife, I look at other women and also at men. If they’re cute, I notice. If I think they’re attractive, I notice. Gee, almost like a straight or a lesbian would be, only I’ve got that with both genders! There is no desire to act on what I notice, just like a lesbian or a straight woman is not always acting on what they are noticing. If I would be acting on it, I would be cheating. The gender of the person I cheated with is of no importance to whether you can call it cheating or not. If I sleep with another woman, I cheat, and if I sleep with a man, I cheat too.

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Sarah, 57, Oregon: That it has to be sexual in nature to be a valid relationship.

Levi, 23, Washington, D.C.: A lot of people think that he's secretly gay but he just doesn't want to admit it. I know this is particularly hurtful to him because he genuinely likes women in every way. Other people think he's really straight but just experimenting with me in particular and that he'll never come out. That's even worse because it assumes that our commitment to each other is weaker than other people's bigotry.

Brian, 45, Nebraska: One of the misconceptions that I have faced frequently from my friends and family is that of wonder on why I feel the need to be open about my bisexuality when I am in a relationship with a woman (my wife of nearly 20 years). People have asked me why I feel the need to be out, as they feel that I am somehow diminishing the relationship with my wife by being out about my bisexuality. The common theme seems to be “Since you are married, doesn’t that mean that no one really needs to know about you being bisexual?” What many people don’t know, as I don’t really feel it is any of their business, is that after I came out to my wife, she and I decided that we should open up our marriage to allow me to experience sexual relationships with other men. Although that has happened only once in the year since my coming-out, it allowed me understand far more about my own ideas of sexuality and commitment than I would've ever imagined. 


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