Since coming out at the age of 15, I’ve met a lot of people who have had serious misconceptions about bisexuality. While most came from my classmates and friends stemming from curiosity, some were downright rude and uncalled for. My college counselor read my essay on coming out and said I was too young and naïve to make such big decisions in life. My mother said that I was complicating my life unnecessarily. My boyfriend at the time and my two best friends did not truly believe me for months when I said I was bisexual because they assumed it was a “phase”. My boyfriend then went on to say he doesn’t want to date me anymore because it’s too much “competition”.
Discussing bisexuality, or sexuality in general, in the Indian context it is tricky as it is often shrouded in mystery with most Indian households adopting the general rule of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ for everything sex related. So here are some myths about bisexuality that need to be debunked asap so people stop bothering bisexuals:
1. Bisexuals are greedy/horny/slutty a.k.a. the “Promiscuous Bisexual” stereotype
This is a stereotype so common, we have a trope dedicated to it. The common assumption is that because bisexuals are attracted to more than one gender, they’re likely to want to fuck everything in sight. This is entirely incorrect. Yes, there is a possibility of bisexual individuals with high sex drive and active sex lives, but this has no connection to their sexuality. Educate yourselves, please.
2. And hence, they are unreliable partners in monogamous relationships and are highly likely to cheat on their partner a.k.a. the “Can’t-Keep-It-In-Their-Pants” stereotype
This stereotype has caused a great amount of fear in not only the straight community but also the queer community. Bisexual individuals are not more likely to cheat on their partners — monogamy is monogamy regardless of their sexual/romantic orientation. If a person cheats on their partner, it is not their sexual orientation that is to be blamed; it’s their shitty personality.
3. Bisexuals are undecided; they’re most definitely gay or straight and bisexuality is only a transitional phase a.k.a. the “Half Chocolate/Half Vanilla” stereotype
Bisexuals are often thought to be liars or indecisive because people have the misconception that bisexuality doesn’t exist and is only a way for homosexuals to ‘hide’ their true sexuality. Some people believe that straight girls ‘act’ bisexual in order to gain attention from boys. This is not only awfully regressive but also extremely untrue. Some people also have the misconception that bisexuals are half-gay and half-straight. This is untrue as bisexuality is a sexuality by itself (pun unintended). Some bisexuals may be equally attracted to men and women but some may have a preference for a particular gender. This doesn’t make them any less bisexual.
4. Bisexuals always want to have threesomes a.k.a. the “Use Me to Spice Up Your Boring Sex Life” stereotype
If you ever have the chance to meet a bisexual individual, do not and I repeat do not ask them for a threesome immediately. Bisexuals do not exist for you to ask them to have sex with you and your partner. Treat them like humans before sex toys and then maybe they will consider it if they are open towards it.
5. Bisexuals that are in heterosexual relationships are not considered bisexual a.k.a. the “Invisible Bisexual” stereotype
This stereotype almost always stems from the parts of the queer community that repeatedly want to erase bisexuality from the movement. Just by dating a boy, I am not a non-practicing bisexual — at least according to Larry King. I am still bisexual. That part of me that is attracted to other genders is not going to disappear just because I am committed to an individual.
These stereotypes may not seem very damaging and rather trivial but they have a larger spillover effect. There is far too much discrimination bisexuals face not just from heterosexuals but also the queer community — who are supposed to be our allies, our friends. This often alienates the bisexual community even though 40% of the queer community is reportedly bisexual.
The stereotypes create fear among bisexuals who then become afraid to come out and participate in the community. Those who speak up, however, are not listened to. One of the greatest problems is of bi-erasure is when the community is ignored and not represented in mainstream media. An example is the Wonder Woman movie where Diana Prince is canonically bisexual in the comics but the filmmakers chose to gloss over this detail in the movie. Even the refusal to say the word “bisexual” out loud on screen is rampant in television shows. When bisexuals ask for representation to combat bi-erasure, we get grossly misrepresented. The stereotypes I mentioned in this article are often seen on screens as well, further reinforcing these damaging ideas. Representation is important for viewers who may be lacking in confidence regarding their sexuality or just want to see someone on their screen that they can relate to. Hence, let’s work together to erase these stereotypes, instead of trying to erase the bisexual community.
[Words by Tanvi GS]