Bisexuality: More than Curiosity
Originally Published: December 8, 2006
Revised: February 22, 2013
“I believe a lot more teens would experiment sexually or even be a lot more comfortable with their sexuality if they didn’t fear being harassed, labeled or forced to identify with a particular group,” says Alexis, a 17-year-old from Cedar Brook, NJ.
We are typically taught to fit into a certain sexual category. “Straight” is the orientation that’s usually considered the “right” one, but what if people don’t fit into this category? What if they fluctuate between categories? In fact, what if they don’t feel like they fit into any category? In other words, what about bisexuals?
Bisexual people like me often have to cover up their true desires. Many attitudes toward bisexuals continue to be both negative and prejudicial. Some believe that those who claim to be bisexual are either gay or straight, and just confused. Bisexuals who date someone of the same sex might be seen as having been gay all along. “Bisexuality doesn’t exist,” our friends might tell us.
Or, bisexuals might be seen as trying to take advantage of the benefits of another group. For instance, if a bisexual guy was to date a girl, many people in the gay community might perceive him as seeking freedom from discrimination, which is a heterosexual privilege.
It can also be difficult for bisexuals to be taken seriously. We often have to deal with being seen as a “fun time” or an “experiment,” rather than a person who may be seeking a real relationship. Even more seriously, we are often viewed as being promiscuous and “bedroom hoppers.” Because we are attracted to both sexes, some people believe that once we’re in a relationship with a guy, we’ll want to have sex with a girl, and vice versa.
I find it difficult to constantly be told by some heterosexuals, gays and lesbians that I need to “pick a team” and stick with it.
We’re also seen as unable to commit, which is ridiculous. There is just as much of a possibility that a bisexual may be cheated on by his or her girlfriend or boyfriend, as a straight or gay person. These stereotypes have led to false ideas, such as bisexuals are the reason why HIV/AIDS was introduced to the straight and lesbian communities.
Bisexuality can provoke reactions—ranging from confusion to discomfort to outright hostility—from both the gay and straight communities.
Sexuality is fluid, stated Alfred Kinsey, a human sexuality researcher who did much of his work in the 1940’s and 1950’s. One behavioral study he conducted revealed that 46 percent of men and 12 percent of women have had both gay or lesbian and heterosexual experiences. Kinsey also developed the Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale—a rating scale, ranging from zero to seven, in which zero meant exclusively straight and seven meant exclusively gay. He found that very few people identified as exclusively gay or straight. This indicates that most people feel some level of attraction to both the same and opposite sex. According to Kinsey, bisexuality is more “normal” than many of us think!
As teens approach adulthood, we begin to make more choices that shape our identities. Many of us who are bisexual start experimenting in high school. Although it is a lot safer today for the bi-curious teen to sexually experiment than even a few years ago, many are still victims of abuse, discrimination and intolerance.
With all these fears of discrimination and intolerance looming in the hearts and minds of bisexual teens, college can seem like a sexual nirvana, where the exploration of one’s sexuality, in all its variations, is not only accepted but often encouraged.
“In high school, sexual discovery and experimentation are thrown in your face, but there still looms the fear of judgment from others,” says Jonathan, a gay 19-year-old college student from Philadelphia, PA. “As you enter college, that fear sort of dissipates, as the atmosphere encourages you to seek and discover your sexual identity.”
Some colleges even have “questioning” support groups for students who wonder if they are gay or lesbian. Many take advantage of the sexually-accepting atmosphere of college and experiment. Overall, the college environment can be more welcoming of those who are developing their identities, and this is appealing to teens who are eager to explore.
I often find it difficult to date. I never know if I should wait to tell whomever I am dating about my sexuality in the beginning, or if I should wait and see how the relationship progresses. I often wish I could be completely honest at all times, but the reality is people are not as accepting as we would wish them to be. By lying we are hiding our true selves and trying to protect ourselves from being shunned by both sexes.
I find it difficult to constantly be told by some heterosexuals, gays and lesbians that I need to “pick a team” and stick with it. The scrutiny from others has only led me to question myself further. But in being honest with myself, I have learned that I am attracted to both sexes, and if the person I fancy cannot accept that, then he or she is not worth my time.
As we discover our sexual identities, we may encounter issues of discrimination and intolerance head-on. Adolescence is not only an emotional roller coaster, it’s also a time when your sexual identity begins to form. Why should it be repressed? Your sexual orientation—straight, gay or bi—is a part of who you are. Accept it. Love it.
*Angelus Ferrero is a pseudonym for a 17-year-old who lives in New Jersey.
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