On tackling the stereotypes surrounding bisexuality
The first night of freshers’ week, I went to see Clean Cut Kid with my friends and started talking to a girl who was standing next to us. Somehow, the topic turned to sexual orientation. She asked me how I identified, and I told her I was bisexual. She replied “Me, too! But like all bi girls, I’m 80% straight and 20% gay. I’d totally sleep with a girl but I’d never actually date one.” This made me feel uncomfortable, to say the least – not only was this girl generalising her experience on behalf of all bisexual women, but she was also perpetuating the stereotype that some of us are working very hard to break.
I grew up in what can be considered a LGBTQ+ tolerant environment, but there was always an unspoken agreement that people like me couldn’t express ourselves to a full extent. We were allowed to exist, as long as we weren’t too loud. Coming to Glasgow for university felt like a breath of fresh air. I no longer had to restrain myself from expressing who I was, and could take pride in my sexuality. For the most part, this has absolutely remained the case five months on – unfortunately, I have encountered biphobia a little too often at a university, and in a city, that touts itself as “gay-friendly”.
Some of it must simply be ignorance; sometimes, if I tell a guy I’m bisexual, they’ll immediately propose a threesome and then say “only joking!” Alternative fun responses I’ve received are “Cool, but I could turn you straight”, and “Sure you are”. At other times, my fellow students will suggest that if I haven’t dated a girl, I can’t be a “real” bisexual. Telling non-bisexual LGBTQ+ people that I’ve never been to Pride leads to them doubting whether I should show up anyway, since I “only date guys”. My most disappointing experience was with a friend of mine who is gay himself, who tried to explain to me that bisexual people have it easy because “you can date anyone you want, you don’t have to be choosy, it’s so easy for you”. Because naturally, all bisexuals pick random people off the street and say “You’ll do!”
What really confuses me is that the University of Glasgow seems to have excellent support for LGBTQ+ people, and a genuine wish to educate people on LGBTQ+ issues. The GULGBTQ+ society is one of the most active and welcoming on campus; homophobia is (at least superficially) not tolerated by the majority of students who attend the University, regardless of them being LGBTQ+ or not. We have a rainbow flag flying this entire month on campus; in comparison to many other universities around the world, I feel quite privileged to be an LGBTQ+ student at Glasgow.
So in that spirit, I’d like to take it upon myself to educate you on any misconceptions you may have about bisexuals. And, yes, there are many. We are viewed as confused, promiscuous, attention-seekers, and liars… It’s time to end all of that. Firstly, someone can be 95% attracted to one gender, 5% attracted to another, and they’d still be bisexual. The prefix “bi” stems from the Latin word for two. As long as someone is attracted to two genders, they are bisexual. Secondly, bisexual and pansexual are often used as interchangeable terms, but they are different – pansexual people are attracted to others regardless of gender. That being said, bisexual people can be and definitely are attracted to those who don’t fit into cisgender categories, such as trans or non-binary people. Thirdly, bisexuals aren’t “slutty” simply because we can date both men and women. Like most folk, we have our own preferences, likes and dislikes when it comes to physical and psychological attraction. We do not jump on people just because “we can”. We are not desperate or always looking for a relationship.
Lastly, bisexuality is not a phase. It is true that in the past, many people have identified as bisexual before coming out as gay, because they believed they would receive less negative attention. However, it is 2018, and when people come out today they usually do it because they want to show the world how they currently identify, not to tell a lie. Perpetuating these myths is not only untrue, it is hurtful.
Many of us revel in the fact that at university, significantly more people are respectful of our sexual orientation than at home. As much as I hate using this term, please don’t take our “safe spaces” away from us. It’s time for people with judgmental opinions – from both the straight and gay sides of the spectrum – to start keeping them to themselves.