Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Bisexuals: putting the B back in LGBT

Bisexuality is often dismissed or disparaged, so many come out as gay instead. But the UK bi scene is finding its feet

I'm constantly baffled by the exclusion of bisexuals. I blame bad science, or rather bad scientists. Every year it seems there's a new study on "what makes people gay". Oddly, this is expected to be an on-off switch, and the researchers look in the genes, or the brain or the length of fingers for a sign that one set of people will be queer, now and for always, and another proving the rest will remain 100% straight. It takes a special kind of rigidity of outlook to construct a survey on finger length and decide beforehand there's no middle ground. They then say everyone's "straight, gay or lying" but for that to be true there would have to be an awful lot of liars out there. The last Observer poll on sexual attitudes showed that 4% of people – one in 25 – identified as homosexual, and half as many again identified separately as bisexual.

But this sort of thinking fuels the mythical status of bi people. People are quick to tinker with the definition of bisexual until it's not something anyone would willingly pick for themselves. Bisexuals are supposed to be equally attracted to men and women – always androgyny, but never to trans people – and always at the same time. They supposedly need to have identical amounts of sex with both, and don't notice the differences between them (which might get painful in bed, I reckon). We're all told bisexuality is a phase that everyone goes through and grows out of, and no one's a "proper" bisexual, even though "everyone's bisexual really". Bisexuals are depicted as the monsters spreading Aids, and breaking the hearts of partners inevitably cast aside for a different gender. Who'd want to be bi! Read more
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