30 Famous People Proudly Claiming the Word 'Bisexual'
By Sunnivie Brydum
What's in a Name?
They say a rose by any other name smells as sweet, but when it comes to speaking our truths, many LGBT folks find empowerment in putting their identity into words. While gay, lesbian, and transgender people sometimes dominate the headlines, during this Bisexual Visibility Week, it’s high past time to give the third letter in our community acronym some exposure.
Most LGBT folks can understand the power of self-identification, but for bisexual people — who are often dismissed as being “confused,” “greedy,” or “going through a phase” — naming their identity can be a revolutionary act. Some prominent bisexual activists have embraced the “bi+” label to invite queer, pansexual, omnisexual, and sapiosexual people under the bisexual umbrella, in a similar way that “queer” is sometimes used as shorthand for “LGBT.”
But as most of the people listed here can attest, coming out as bisexual remains a particularly difficult and all-too-often controversial proclamation. It’s for that reason that we have limited the following list to people who actively identify with the term “bisexual” and pulled some of their most poignant quotes validating their identity — and, we hope, yours too.
Tony winner for her role as Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, Ramirez made TV history when her beloved character Callie came out as bisexual on Grey’s Anatomy nearly a decade ago. Last October at the True Colors: 40 to None Summit in Los Angeles to combat LGBT homelessness, Ramirez came out as bisexual.
"So many of our youth experiencing homelessness are youth whose lives touch on many intersections—whether they be gender identity, gender expression, race, class, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship status,” Ramirez said. “And, because of the intersections that exist in my own life: Woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant, and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism on both my Mexican and Irish sides, I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth's voices to be heard, and that support our youth in owning their own complex narratives so that we can show up for them in the ways they need us to."
While she was always a tireless advocate for LGBT people, she’s become even more of an activist and spokesperson for the queer community since coming out.
Charles M. Blow
“[Bi]sexuality presents in a lot of different ways,” The New York Times’s only African-American columnist explained to out journalist Michelangelo Signorile on SiriusXM radio in 2014. “People can be bisexual and heteroamorous, meaning they can have sex with both men and women but only fall in love with people of the opposite sex. Or it can be the inverse. It can be people who fall in love with both but only want to have sex with one. There’s a huge spectrum. Part of what my discomfort was, in the beginning, is that I wanted something that didn’t exist. I wanted something that was so singular, a label that was so singular for me. I was so special — I was so different from everybody else I was meeting. And that I wanted a different label. And I had to say, ‘Charles, snap out of that. What are you talking about?’ All identity labels are umbrella terms to some degree, but this term ‘bisexual’ is not only serviceable but it is sufficient. And yes, it brings together a bunch of people who are maybe shades different from one another. And maybe that’s the beauty of labels: that they force you to be with other people and see the difference.”
“I am a bisexual woman in love with a woman,” proclaimed Evelyn Mantilla, then a Connecticut state representative, in June 1997, just four months after she became the first openly bisexual person elected to a state legislature. She was reelected for another four consecutive terms, serving until 2007.
“It’s a really, really hard thing to be silenced, and it’s deeply bruising to fight against your identity and to mold yourself into shapes that you just shouldn’t in,” the Hunger Games star said in a January Snapchat video she posted with Teen Vogue and later to her own Tumblr. “As someone who identifies as a black bisexual woman, I’ve been through it and it hurts and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable. … We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears and be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow.”
"We're simply people like everyone else who want and deserve respect," Democrat Kyrsten Sinema told a Republican colleague in the Arizona legislature after he had insulted LGBT people in 2005. Elle magazine notes that when reporters later pressed her on her use of the first person during that speech, Simena replied, “Duh, I'm bisexual."
In 2012, Sinema became the first out bisexual person elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. Shortly after being sworn in, she expanded on her identity in a January 2013 interview with The Washington Post.
“For me it just doesn’t matter,” she told the paper. “It just doesn’t matter if that other person is a man or a woman. … Bisexuals are gay people — we’re all gay. Some people don’t like that.”
The daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and civil rights attorney Mel Leventhal, author Rebecca Walker is all too familiar with living life at the intersections. In a 2012 Marie Claire article, the prolific feminist author of Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After Decades of Ambivalence, and most recently, Adé: A Love Story, recounted falling in love with her first girlfriend and coming to terms with her own identity.
“A year into the relationship, it was clear: I was bisexual and thought everyone else could be, too, if given the chance,” Walker writes. “My capacity for sexual, psychological, and emotional connection was way more complex than I had been led to believe; how I related to my boyfriends was just the tip of the iceberg. Attraction didn't have to be restrained or turned off just because I was with a woman or turned on only because I was with a man. The important element is chemistry, that intangible energy that magnetizes one person to another. There are so many other ways of relating beyond the simple binary of same-sex platonic friendship and opposite-sex romantic interest. We human beings are vast and full of possibility.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re married or not, or having sex with anyone or not,” Cumming told The Advocate last year. “There are straight couples who don’t have sex. There are gay people who don’t have sex. But if you’re sexually attracted to both sexes, you’re bisexual.”
Gov. Kate Brown
“On the day I was sworn in as Oregon’s 38th governor, I experienced what it’s like to be labeled — to have my first two decades of public service eclipsed by a single phrase: ‘the nation’s first openly bisexual governor,’ a phrase that appeared after my name in virtually every headline worldwide,” Gov. Kate Brown said during her commencement speech at Willamette University in May.
Shortly after taking office last year, Brown signed into law a bill that made Oregon the third state in the U.S. to ban the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors. The discredited practice aims to change a young person's sexual orientation or gender identity through counseling, prayer, and aversion therapy, and has been denounced as ineffective and harmful by every major medical and mental health organization in the United States.
The 21-year-old singer and songwriter (and 2015 Advocate40 Under 40 honoree) has always infused her identity into her music, sneaking in a reference to marriage equality in last summer’s anthemic hit “New Americana.” But in a 2012 tweet that made a million girls’ hearts flutter, the artist laid her whole identity on the table.
“I’m a mixed-race, bisexual woman in a white male-dominated industry and I have a moral responsibility,” she tweeted.
Like many of the women on this list, Halsey has had to defend her identity recently, after a BuzzFeed article questioned whether she was toning down her out-and-proud ways to navigate mainstream success. The young artist fired back in a series of (since-deleted) tweets, saying “Sorry I’m not gay enough for you.” She dismissed the article as a “tiresome analysis of my one year in the public eye and the ignorance of 8+ years of sexual discovery to determine if I’m truly queer,” according to Teen Vogue. “[This article] is part of a mentality so engrained in the erasure of bisexual ‘credibility’ even within the LGBT community.
"I'm someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. It's not made up. It's not a lack of decision,” the True Blood actress told Zooey magazine in 2012. “It’s not being greedy or numerous other ignorant things I’ve heard at this point. For a bisexual, it’s not about gender. That’s not the deciding factor for who they’re attracted to.”
For another taste of Paquin’s ongoing dedication to bisexual visibility, check out her perfect response to Larry King in 2014 when he asked her if she was a “nonpracticing bisexual” because she is “happily, monogamously” married to her True Blood costar Stephen Moyer.
Although it might have surprised some Twitter users when the Good Wife and Chicago Fire actress casually mentioned that she’s “proud to be bi” back in February 2014, Monica Raymund assured fans the revelation wasn’t news to her. She responded to Twitter users looking to confirm her identity with a straightforward “yup. Hey ladies,” accompanied by a winking emoji.
“Nope I didn’t just come out,” she concluded in a tweet on that fateful February night. “You just late to the party. But I have drinks for all y’all. #BiandProud #10YearsOut&Proud Cheers, Family!”
She was married to Neil Patrick Stewart at the time, but they divorced later that year. Last September, Raymund introduced the world to her girlfriend Tari Segal, calling her “the love of my life” and “my queen, who has given me all my strength and courage.”
“I’m quite bisexual,” the blockbuster director of X-Men: Days of Future Past told Out magazine in 2014. “In the last five years, I’ve had two girlfriends — one for two years, one for eight months. ... Talking about human sexuality is like talking about the Second World War."
“If you look at the Kinsey Report, human sexuality is so complex. And the reason I’ve never talked about it to the press — until now — is because sexuality is so complex. To have a real conversation about it, you really want to have the person you’re talking to in front of you.”
During a performance at Nashville Pride in June 2010, the singer-songwriter known for “A Thousand Miles” and “Ordinary Day” announced, “I’ve never said this before, but I am a proud bisexual woman.”
The Grammy-nominated musician has been out for most of her lengthy career, but she continues to defy categorization. She released her her debut album in 1993, and the same year defined her identity to the Los Angeles Times, saying “I’m black. I’m a woman. I’m bisexual.”
“I’ve loved many different kinds of people. Maybe different races, maybe different genders. That may sound completely hippie and dippy and bullshit, but I have larger worries and concerns.”
In a 2014 interview with The Boom Box, she said she had found a new way to accurately describe her orientation.
“I’ve come up with a new term: I am sexually functional with both genders,” she explained. “I just choose to be with this particular one. Who knows what the future holds? It’s just such a weird concept to me that it’s so important to how you judge my music or my character or anything about me. I’m never assuming what heterosexual people are doing.”
Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui came out proclaiming all of her identities, including being bisexual, in an open letter to Donald Trump voters following last November’s election. In a searing missive in which she called his supporters “un-Christ-like” and “hypocrites,” she wrote:
“Our ‘political correctness’ that your champion, Donald Trump, so pointedly disregarded throughout his entire campaign and now with the appointment of his advisors and other government officials, is the language we have worked tirelessly to establish to feel safe in a world that never stops reminding us we are minorities. I am a bisexual Cuban-American woman and I am so proud of it. I am proud to be part of a community that only projects love and education and the support of one another. I am proud to be the granddaughter and daughter of immigrants who were brave enough to leave their homes and come to a whole new world with a different language and culture and immerse themselves fearlessly to start a better life for themselves and their families.”
Mother Monster has spent most of her career defending her bisexual identity. During a 2013 appearance in Berlin while promoting her album ARTPOP, the singer brought out the claws for the haters, reports The Huffington Post.
“You know what? It’s not a lie that I am bisexual and I like women, and anyone that wants to twist this into ‘she says she’s bisexual for marketing,’ this is a fucking lie,” Gaga said. “This is who I am and who I have always been.”
“It has always been my goal in office to be transparent and honest with my constituents,” Wisconsin State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa told Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel when she publicly came out as bisexual in July 2012. “But before the primary in 2010, I didn’t have the valor and courage to come out. I feel remiss that I didn’t come out then.”
For years, Zamarripa struggled to find the words to come out to herself, even in her private journal, she recalled.
“When Ellen [DeGeneres] came out that was when I felt I could write in my journal about it,” she told the paper in 2012. “It’s tough for people to wrap their minds around that, but it is a reality and the truth. … It’s part of my life, like being a south sider and the only Hispanic in the Legislature, and I’m happy to share it with my constituents.”
“I’m married to a man, but I’m bisexual, so I like both,” the comedian explained to the hosts of talk show The Real in 2013 when discussing her open marriage to artist Al Ridenour. “But I mean, we got together because … I just don’t want to have sex with the same person my whole life. That’s gross.”
"I have no question in my mind about being bisexual," the actress toldEsquire in 2009. “I’m also a hypocrite: I would never date a girl who was bisexual, because that means they also sleep with men, and men are so dirty that I’d never want to sleep with a girl who had slept with a man.”
Billie Joe Armstrong
“I think I’ve always been bisexual,” the Green Day front man told The Advocate in 1995. “It’s ingrained in our heads that it’s bad, when it’s not bad at all. It’s a very beautiful thing.”
The prolific feminist author, commentator, and professor has never been shy about her identity. But in April 2015, she took to Twitter to explain why she identifies how she does: “I use ‘queer’ because I am lazy and it is SHORTER TO TYPE than ‘bisexual,’” she wrote.
“My sexuality is not a phase,” she said. “I am who I am.” She added that she saw “nothing malicious” in the original Vogue article but was flattered by the outpouring of support against the erasure of her bisexual identity.
“I consider myself bisexual, and my philosophy is, everyone innately is,” the Will & Grace star told The Advocate in 1999.
“I don’t want to have to deny my sexuality in order to be me,” she told the Times. “But I don’t want to have to be defined by it. I’m fundamentally opposed to trying to edit myself to be palatable or popular. I don’t give a fuck. I fight, but I shouldn’t have to.”
The legendary music producer opened up about his “bisexual life” in his 2013 memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life, where he also discussed his ongoing relationship with a man for nearly a decade. The 84-year-old Davis, who was twice married to women, says there’s only one way to accurately describe his orientation.
"Bisexuality is misunderstood; the adage is that you're either straight or gay or lying, but that's not my experience," he wrote in his book, according to USA Today. "To call me anything other than bisexual would be inaccurate."
"I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have 'chosen' is to be in a gay relationship,” the actress told The Advocate in 2012, after her controversial comments that some said implied that sexual orientation was a choice.
Mary Lynne Rajskub
“I am bisexual, and women are beautiful,” the actor and comedian told AfterEllen in 2012. “I have had a lot of experiences with women. People don’t want to hear me philosophize, they want to know what my experience is.”
The 45-year-old married Matthew Rolph three years before that interview and said that she’s turned her “normalcy” into part of her stand-up act. Being married to the father of her child is what’s “taboo,” she told AfterEllen. “I’m talking about the fact I ended up in a straight normal relationship is completely surprising to me. It’s really interesting talking about what you identify with, this is who I am, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have been that other person, and I identify with lots of different things.”
For this former Disney star, coming out was as simple as a three-letter word. In a Twitter exchange with fans last month, someone asked the 18-year-old of she was bisexual. “Yes,” she replied. Cue the flood of supportive tweets and messages, prompting the former Shake It Up star to express her gratitude “for all the accepting tweets from everyone.” She concluded by adding, “I love you guys #pride.”
Back in 2003, the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle star told reporters that she “used to go with lots of women.”
"Do I like women sexually? Yeah, I do,” she reportedly said. “Totally. I have always considered myself bisexual. … I love a woman's body. I think a woman and a woman together are beautiful, just as a man and a woman together are beautiful. Being with a woman is like exploring your own body, but through someone else.”
But in a 2015 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Barrymore was cagey about her identity, declining to say if she’d “ever swam in the lady-pond,” notes AfterEllen.