In the news for the past year, “Trans” and “Transgender” have been in the forefront. People are boldly coming out as trans or defending trans people’s rights. Before that, it seemed that every form of media featured some form of gay character. The LGBTQ community has been extremely vocal for the lesbians, the gays, the trans and the Queer. I have literally seen 20X more articles on being ‘queer’ and having ‘non-binary gender’ than I have about being bisexual.
Being bisexual is rarely talked about in the media for some reason. The default is referring to people in same sex relationships as ‘gay’. Even Kevin Spacey’s recent and ill-timed announcement all feature him as a ‘gay man’ and that he is coming out of the closet finally. But I can’t recall any male celebrities coming out as bisexual. Even the few female celebrities who are bisexual, namely Miley Cyrus, are extremely rare. And to prove my point, Miley Cyrus said, “I have always hated the word bisexual” and prefers ‘pansexual’. Sarah Paulson refuses to label her sexual orientation. Even Rachel Wood says, “there are so many negative connotations with that label.” Actress Amber Heard said, “Everyone said it would end my career” and soon she found herself known as ‘lesbian actress’ even though she actually came out as bi.
Apparently, one of the most despised forms of sexuality is bisexual men. I don’t really understand why, but both men and women in surveys consistently rate bisexual men as very undesirable partners. Hell, bisexual men aren’t even allowed to donate blood in a lot of places. Gay men don’t like bisexual men because they feel threatened that their partner might suddenly ‘become straight’ and they won’t be able to compete with a woman. Straight women often view bisexual men as more effeminate and ‘dirtier’ so they don’t want them as partners. And almost everybody views bisexual men as a lot more promiscuous than either gay or straight men.
Bisexual women have it a little better than bisexual men but are still frequently discriminated against. Men who find out their girl is bisexual invariably jump to the conclusion that they can now have their fantasy threesome with 2 girls. This clearly confuses female bisexuality with polyamory – which are completely different things.
Women coming out as bi are often called lesbians. Guys coming as bi are often called ‘gay.’ And guess what? If you are bisexual, then calling yourself gay or lesbian seems completely wrong!! Why? Because the straight part of you is being totally denied by such a label. A bisexual guy who comes out doesn’t suddenly stop seeing women as beautiful and sexy! Same for bisexual women… they don’t want hot guys to ignore them because ‘they like women’.
Often, it is so much easier for bisexual people to hide in the shadows because well, it is nobody’s damn business! Bisexuals have a built-in camouflage because of society’s amazingly quick ability to jump to conclusions. If a man is seen with a woman, then the guy is straight, right? And so is the girl. But they could easily both be bi! However, explaining that has nothing but negative connotations and takes a whole shit-ton of extra energy. Energy that unless the person is very open, proud, and feels like yelling out their sexuality on a bullhorn…well, most bisexual people just aren’t going to expend that extra energy. They will just ignore it and let you assume they are straight.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a bisexual person can go to a gay club with their same-sex lover and everybody assumes they are gay. It’s not uncommon for gay men to be openly hostile to the concept of bisexual guys – living in Toronto for years (which has a massive gay population and is known for its huge Pride Parades) even surrounded by a gay-positive atmosphere I frequently heard anti-bisexual comments. Things like, “He just has fully decided yet” or “He can’t admit to himself that he is fully gay” – were commonplace.
Because it takes a bunch of extra energy to tediously explain to people that you are bisexual…well, the vast majority of bisexuals commonly hide in the bisexual camouflage of assumed sexuality. If they are with a same-sex partner they let people think they are gay. If they are with an opposite-sex partner, they are content to let people think they are straight. If they are asked if they are gay, they may frequently say, ‘no.’ Why? Because they aren’t gay! They love the opposite gender and have had many fulfilling relationships with people of the opposite sex. Calling yourself ‘gay’ is totally mislabeling themselves so they will deny it. If you ask a bisexual guy, ‘are you straight?” they might just answer, “I love women and I can’t really understand guys who can’t see the awesome beauty contained in the perfection of the female form” – and you would assume they are straight. But they didn’t answer, did they? No, the guy was using his bisexual camouflage to blend in. Similarly, if an openly gay (and potentially interested hot guy) asks a bisexual guy if he is gay, he might respond, “I have been dating guys since high school.” Again, a wonderful dodge but it still conveys everything he wanted him to know.
So the next time you try to slot people into ‘gay’ or straight’ remember that bisexual camouflage is a very real thing, that most people are bisexual to some degree – and the wording of their answer is very important.