There is a certain tendency among gay people . .
. to plaster labels over everybody, including themselves, instead
of seeing the nameless love that everybody is.
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got off to a spirited start when John mentioned his bisexuality
and someone responded with, "bisexuality is just a cop-out."
John, I hate to confess thisand I am fighting itbut
I'm definitely biased in favor of the position that bisexuality
IS a cop-out. I know that functional bisexuality is real, but I
have a hard time believing that everybody doesn't have a preference.
At best, I've always made light of the matter by quoting the old
Woody Allen quip, "Bisexuality is great. It doubles your chances
of a date on Saturday night."
Well, what can I say? [grin] You're hardly alone in that view, and
it doesn't bother menot these days, anyway. If someone has
struggled to come to terms with being gay, and had to fight to gain
acceptance, it's easy to see why bisexuality might seem a cop-out.
Perhaps sometimes it is. No two people are the same, after all.
But lately I've met a couple of forthright guys who self-identify
as "bi" (welcome to their number), which is making it more and more
difficult for me to maintain my prejudice.
You know what the hardest thing was about understanding my sexual
orientation? Not knowing what to call it. When I was a teenager,
I didn't know if I was straight or gayit was very confusing
to have such mixed feelings and not know what to call them. There
was very little education about homosexuality, and I'd never even
heard of bisexuality. For a while I identified myself as gay, but
it really wasn't working. Even after I started calling myself bi,
I wondered whether I was just using that as a cop-out. Everyone
else seemed to think so.
Society's attitudes towards bisexuality
made me doubt myself for a long, long time. But after a while I
stopped wasting my time on doubt, and just accepted that that's
the way I am. As a disabled man, I had enough trouble understanding
and expressing my sexuality, without having to worry about what
other people thought about it. There's a well-know "gay" British
musician called Tom Robinson whose "Glad to be Gay" was in the charts,
and a bit of an anthem when I was younger. He's now marriedto
a woman. Go figure.
Robinson says it was as much of
a surprise to him as it was to everyone else, but that he fell in
love with a person and not a gender. That kind of sums it up nicely.
I'm attracted to people. Sometimes they're male, sometimes female.
There's an excellent bit about bisexuality on his website
that I strongly recommend to anyone who's curious. Here's a snippet:
But what of this thing called
"bi"? Some are born bisexual, some achieve bisexuality and some
have it thrust upon them. Until it happened to me I always thought
"bi" a cop out - a kind of maimed, halfhearted version of "gay",
desperately clutching at a small shred of respectability. But
to hell with respectability: the real point about being bisexual,
a friend pointed out, is that you're asking something other than
"what sex is this person?
My head is perhaps more likely
to be turned by a cute guy than a pretty girl, but it does turn
for both. All I can tell you is that of the times I've been in lovereally,
seriously in lovethe split so far is 50/50 between men and
women. That's rather too neat a statistical average to last, though,
and it's certainly nothing I have any control over [grin].
Listening to you makes me amazed to discover just how close-minded
one can "still" be. I'm working on it. Knowing somebody who can
discuss the matter so forthrightly and intelligently does tend to
shift my focus.
Cool! Sorry to go on at such great length about it, but I did warn
you not to get me started.
I'm glad you're working on eradicating your prejudice, Bob. I, too,
once questioned bisexuality. My nearsighted thinking was put to
rest by a couple of close friends. One is married to a woman and
has two young children. He also has a male lover, who lives next
door (the "family" apartment is too small for everybody!).
Visiting this household is like visiting a large extended family.
Yes, my mind was blown away with "how do you do it?" questions,
but since everyone seems happy with the arrangement I politely suppressed
I'm also remembering married men
I met in a park cruising area when I first came out. Some were dumb
enough to frequent the same park with their wives and children.
I wondered about their common sense, but I never wondered about
their wanting men as well as women for sex partners.
You know Max, your mention of married guys cruising clues me in
to where some of my own prejudice about bisexuality may come from.
I've known a bunch of guys who talked themselves out of being gay
at an early age, got married (to women, that is), raised families,
told themselves everything was OK because they were bisexual, but
then left their wives and kids because they couldn't stand their
own hypocrisy. Maybe guys of this generation aren't so tempted to
do that anymore. Maybe it's not accurate for me to even think of
those guys as bi in the first place.
Years back I had a bisexual lover for a while. I had known his "wife"
as well before they broke up (it was one of those hippie-style weddings,
not legal and yes, I am dating myself). He had also been an on-and-off
lover of another close friend of mine, so his bi tendencies were
the stuff of legend. He was not someone I could ever have had a
lasting relationship with. His lifestyle (overage hippie) did not
correspond to mine (labeled middle-class by him).
But what was wonderful was the
sex. I had never met any man so in tune with his partner and so
determined to give pleasure and thereby get all he could use in
return. No, he was not just trying to have the best of both worlds
as a matter of greed. By the way, my former bisexual lover was in
a three-way later on in his marriage. The third partner was a man
who was also bi and who later became a platonic roommate of mine.
(The platonic part was not because I wasn't interested.) He later
got involved with a woman who also became a roommate of mine after
he left. Got all that? And you wonder why I don't watch "Friends".
Hell, I was doing "Will and Grace" years before they even made the
The bottom line is (at least for
me) that being bisexual is another variation on a never-ending them
of human sexuality, something I hope we are all here to find out
more about. So I've been very glad that some men straddle the sexual
Max, we're exhausted by your versatility!
Well, as a bi guy, I think it's great to see this discussion taking
place. In my experience, identifying as bisexual is often seen by
people (on either side of the fence) as a cop-out. I could go on
about being attracted to people, not parts, but that's not exactly
true. I am attracted to parts, and sometimes the people they're
attached to. Someone doesn't have to have a dick for me to lust
after them, but oftentimes it helps! And thanks to Bob G for his
honesty. It takes a big man to cop to a bias like that, and it's
refreshing to see everybody else's comments as well. Keep it up.
Well said, Ray. A lot of bi people go on at great length about being
attracted to the person not the gender, and while that can be true
to some extent, it can end up making us sound like we're so totally
above the concept of physical lust that we're almost saintly. It's
not like that at all, really. But there's a world of difference
between attraction and love. When I've fallen in love it hasn't
always been with people I immediately fancied.
I still don't think there is such a thing as being bisexual. I can't
believe that attraction for one sex doesn't always take precedence.
Many gay guys can get it on with women, but they still feel primary
attraction for their own sex. I think that makes them gay.
By your reasoning, Bob, guys who have stronger feelings for women
but still fancy guys are straight. Sorry, I just don't buy that
and I know a lot of bisexual people who don't buy it either. But
it's an argument we're used to hearing. I simply don't think it's
true that one kind of desire always takes precedence, at least not
consistently. Nothing in life is constant. Twenty-five or so years
ago the word "gay" covered just about everything that wasn't heterosexual,
but these days it doesn't work that way. Bisexuals often aren't
welcomed at gay marches, and weren't allowed any representation
at the recent Pride marches in London. When did gay men and women
become so narrow-minded? Surely a Pride march is about affirming
your right to follow your heart instead of conforming to the dictates
Well, OK, John, but your speaking voice sounded so wonderful when
we talked on the phone that you'd better
be more gay than anything else, or I'll come over there and spank
you with Harley's leash! [Harley is Bob's guide dog.]
This is getting pretty steamy, guys!
For a long time I was dismissive of the whole idea of bisexuality.
The thing is, the loftier side of me, thinks it's the ideal, being
able to love regardless of organs. But I can't do it. So maybe my
skepticism comes from a less-than-lofty place, simple envy! I sort
of hate to add that I suspected that '' bi's '' would be less reciprocal
in the sack, too, yet it's among gays that I keep reading about
"tops" and "bottoms," best applied to pajamas, in my ever-so-humble
I've felt that bisexualswherever
they fall on the straight/gay continuum, escape the derision that
a lot of us have experienced, while they get to do the same things.
I can appreciate that feeling, but it's reaching the stage now where
it's almost more acceptable to be gay than it is to be bi. There's
a fair amount of anti-bi sentiment in the "mainstream" gay community
(whatever mainstream means), and straights just don't understand
it at all. And as funny as that Woody Allen quote is, it's a bit
of a burden too. A lot of people think bisexuals are just people
who'll shag anyone and anything, and are unable to maintain a monogamous
guess I don't think the sex-act alone determines your identification.
Nope, nor do I. It's about physical and emotional attraction.
My feeling is that everyone is born sexual, with a probable bent
towards either men or women, no matter what your own sex. I think
it's society that tries to make us exclusionary in our responses.
The fact that gays can be unwelcoming to bi's might back me up there.
Bisexuals often seem to be as much outside of the gay mainstream
as are disabled people.
I think this is a conundrum . . . and I'm almost willing to leave
it that way. But at least I want company in my puzzlement!
Rest assured, Don: 100% of the population is puzzled just
not everyone will admit it [grin].
OK. But I want to thank Bob Guter for legitimizing my feelings.
It's good to know that I'm not along in feeling confused/biased
on this issue. And, John-of-the-mellifluous-tones, thank you for
hauling me kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. So many
of my ideas are influenced by experiences that are thirty, forty,
even fifty years-old. In the Truly-Dark-Ages, when I was a kid,
to merely say that a boychild was "sensitive," was code for "get
this child a tutu!"
As a recovering SK [sensitive
kid ], or better, a survivor, I've some bitterness impeding my attempts
at reason and objectivity. John, you've helped me focus on things
as they are now. I first stopped sneering (in self-defense) at bisexuality
when my therapist, somebody I trusted and respected, called me on
it. And to prove to you guys how far I've come, I'll admit that
I've fallen head-over-heels for one! Absolutely Gaga. OY!!!VEY!!!
Since I'm in love with a person and not a label, I have no choice:
I have to stop sneering.
John, since you're the troublemaker who started all of this by matter-of-factly
coming out to all of us, I'm going to give you the last word.
I guess I'll continue to try and figure things out as I go along.
Many years ago someone posted a short poem to uk.gay-lesbian-bi
that I've always liked. It's not a bad way to sum up:
"Sometimes the path I take
Sometimes it tends to
I have no preference for sex or race,
I just want to hear your voice,
I just want to see your face."
© 2000 BENT
Four new titles from Harrington
Bisexual Characters in Film by
Wayne M. Bryant
The Bisexual Option edited by Fritz Klein
Bisexual Politics edited by Naomi Tucker
Journal of Bisexuality edited by Fritz Klein