1. “You’re just scared to come out as a lesbian.”
Even when my full-time job was editing a leading national magazine for lesbian and bi women, people still told me I was being a “coward” by saying I still liked men. How many school bullies do you reckon would lower their fist and apologise if you tried to placate them with the words “It’s OK, I’ve slept with the head girl but I still shag men too!”? Exactly. And the sad fact is that bisexuals not only get crap from homophobic straight people, they also get discriminated against within the gay scene. An easy option it is not.
2. “Does that mean you have a boyfriend and a girlfriend?”
Bisexuals do not have the monopoly on non-monogamy. I count among my friends plenty of bisexuals who have remained faithful to the same partner for years, as well as plenty of straight folk in open relationships or with multiple partners. Just because bisexuals have the capacity to be attracted to someone of more than one gender (because let’s not forget that gender isn’t just about cis-male and cis-female – non-binary and genderqueer folk exist too, and I apologise in advance if I occasionally revert to “male” and “female” for the sake of brevity!), it doesn’t mean that they constantly yearn for “a bit of the other”.
3. “You’ll make your mind up when you’re older.”
Yes, lots of people’s sexuality is a complicated minefield when they’re young. And some people’s sexuality does evolve and change throughout their lives. But bisexuals have just as much right to wear a fixed sexual identity as anyone else – and they are just as likely to stick to it. When was the last time you heard someone ask a 30-year-old straight woman if she was sure she was straight? And yet as a bi woman, I still get asked – time and time again – when I’m going to “choose”. I already have “chosen” (since when was sexuality a “choice”?).
4. “Do you want a threesome?”
You’d be forgiven for believing that “Always up for threesomes” was the dictionary definition of “bisexual”. Admittedly bisexuality helps if you’re doing a mixed gender threesome, but plenty of gay people have threesomes too – and plenty of straight people manage to work out a comfortable threesome set-up as well (“no touching the other guy”, etc). Bisexuals don’t own threesomes. The rest of you are free to trot off and get stuck in too. Just as us bis are at liberty to say “No thanks!”
5. “Double the chances on a Saturday night, eh?”
Everyone has one straight mate who’d sleep with anything, right? And one who, despite being desperately hot and talented and funny, has only ever had one boyfriend? Levels of pickiness among people of all sexualities vary. This misconception about bisexuals having more choice is an even more frustrating variation on the idea that all lesbians fancy all women and all gay men fancy all men. In fact, being bi can lessen your chances. Many lesbians won’t go near bi women in case they “run off with a man”, and plenty of men find the idea of a bi partner an ENORMOUS affront to their masculinity.
6. “I bet you go to those bondage clubs.”
See numbers 2, 4 and 5.
7. “Do you prefer men or women?”
Do you prefer men of 5ft 11 or 6ft 2? You have the potential to be attracted to either? Same goes for me and gender. Gender isn’t an ultimate decider for me anymore than a height difference is for you. That’s not to say that many bisexuals don’t have a preference – just as you might slightly prefer a taller man but find love with a shorter one. There is much debate about what makes a “true bi” but if you’re happy – just for now – to take it as meaning “with the potential to be attracted to more than one gender”, then it’s safe to say there’s an awful lot of it out there.
8. “You’re just doing it for attention – kissing your mates in clubs to impress men.”
See number 7. No we’re not. And admittedly it does rile me slightly when straight girls do this, because first of all it can end up with a genuinely lesbian or bi woman being lead on by an “experimenter” and secondly it means that us real deals get taken less seriously. We’re kissing her because she’s hot. Why would we need any other reason?
9. “Can’t you just live as a straight if you like both?”
OK. I’ll just rule out everyone except men as potential partners, thus possibly missing out on the love of my life, so I can enjoy this “straight privilege” thing people go on about. It’s genuinely insulting to suggest that my identity is shallow and flexible enough that I can choose to mould it into something other people find acceptable.
10. “I still don’t get it.”
Well, some people just don’t. Sigh. I did try.
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