Being an Ally to the Bisexual Community
What Is Bisexuality?
Bisexuality is the potential to feel attracted (sexually, romantically, emotionally) to and/or engage in sensual or sexual relationships with people of two or more genders. The degree and type of attraction to different genders may vary over time. Bisexuality historically operated within the binary, meaning attraction to men and women, but the term has increasingly been re-defined by bisexual people to name attraction to people of same and different genders. This could include—as a few instances—men & women; women & non-binary people; men & genderfluid people; men, women, & gender non-conforming people, etc. Bisexuality is one term of many describing non-monosexual identities, meaning not attracted to one gender exclusively. Some other terms are pansexuality and omnisexuality, meaning attraction to people of all or many gender identities and expressions.
Bisexual individuals, like all people, have a wide variety of relationship styles. Contrary to common myth, a bisexual person does not necessarily need to be in sexual or romantic relationships with people of multiple genders simultaneously. Some bisexual people may be in a relationship with one partner only, whereas others may have a number of partners. It is important to have the freedom to choose the type of relationship that is right for the people involved, whatever their orientation.
Bisexual people cannot be defined by their partner(s) or potential partner(s), so they are rendered invisible within an either/or framework. This invisibility is one of the most challenging aspects of a bisexual identity. Living in a society that operates strongly within a binary, most people are unaware of their monosexual assumptions (seeing someone as either gay or straight) until a bisexual person speaks up/comes out and challenges the assumption. Very often, bisexuals are then dismissed and told they are “confused” or “simply have to make up their mind and choose.”
Tips to be a Bisexual Ally
- The terms “bisexual” and “non-monosexual” can be used interchangeably to describe individuals who identify with non-monosexual orientations (attracted to more than one gender), encompassing pan-, omni-, bi-, and nonmonosexual identities.
- Acknowledge that a person who is bisexual is always bisexual regardless of their current or past partner(s) or sexual experience(s).
- Check in with people about what term(s) they prefer and respect personal choices about self-identification. Don’t make assumptions!
- Because nonmonosexuality is invisibilized/delegitimized, non-monosexual people usually have to come out over and over, both within and outside of LGBTQIA communities.
- Recognize that Bi people are not “confused,” “oversexed,” or attracted to everyone.
- Not every Bi person “passes” as straight. Those who do may not feel this is a privilege.
* September 23rd is the annual Bisexual Visibility Day!!!*