Good Bi Love: 5 Ways To Respond When People Don't Believe Bisexuality Exists

By Zachary Zane

February 20, 2018



Photo credit: Unsplash/DESIGNECOLOGIST

As a bi person, no matter where you live, at some point you’ll come out as bi to someone new, and they will invalidate your bisexuality. Either they’ll claim bisexuality doesn't exist, or that you're confused, or you're doing it for attention, or you're "actually gay". It's inevitable. Depending on your local community, you may even experience doubt and invalidation on a weekly basis.

Since I've been out as bi and open to nearly everyone I meet, I've learned the best ways to respond to people when they simply don't believe you.

A woman holds her hand in the air and speaks into a megaphone with a smile.

1. You don't have to change their mind

I think this, by far, is the most important thing I've learned. While we have this innate desire to change the naysayers' minds, to prove to them that not only are you bi, but there are vast numbers of bi people across the globe, that often isn't the best approach. There's also a big difference between someone saying, "Bisexuality doesn't actually exist" and "I don't think I've met someone who's bisexual." While both often express the same sentiment — the latter simply implying doubt about the existence of bisexuality, while the former says it point-blank — they invite different responses. The first is looking for an argument, but the second opens the door to a genuine conversation.

When people say bisexuality straight-up doesn't exist, I don't give them the satisfaction of having the argument. I simply say, "Alright", and move on to something else, knowing that I'm probably not going to hang out with this person again. This confuses the living hell out of them. They expected me to defend my sexuality, to want to prove to them that they're wrong.

Two young men talk to eachother. One man is smiling while the other looks more seriously at him.
Bigstock/Wayhome Studio

Often, when I casually dismiss them, they'll then circle back to bisexuality because they are so puzzled by my response. At which point I'll say, "If you don't believe it, you don't believe it. There’s nothing really for me to say about my sexuality then, is there?" This will either shut them up, or they'll start to backpedal.

2. Stay calm, don't be defensive

When I first claimed the bi label, and folks proceeded to invalidate my identity, I became very defensive. I think that's the most natural human response — to say "No!" and start shouting. This didn't do me any good. Seldom did I actually change people’s minds by being defensive and getting in their faces. In fact, it probably made it seem like I was in denial of my sexuality as "full-blown gay" — only proving their point.

3. Recognize ignorance vs. biphobia

My previous column was dedicated to exploring the difference between ignorance and biphobia, so I'm not going to rehash it in-depth here. What I will say is that there's a big difference between people who simply haven't been exposed to openly bi people, and those who have and still refuse to believe the bi identity exists. The former group shouldn't be shamed, simply educated (if you feel like it). The latter group doesn't deserve the time of day.

Two women talk while sitting on a couch. One woman looks annoyed at her friend while her she tries to explain something while smiling.

4. You don't need their validation

Of course, this is easier said than done, and I think this can only come when you have other forms of bisexual identity validation and support from family and friends. I craved validation from every single person I told I was bi right when I came out. Now, truthfully, I don't. I pity their biphobia, ignorance, and lack of open-mindedness. Not to sound like your mom, but they’re missing out.

Dr. Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli of Deakin University recently published a book titled Women in Relationships with Bisexual Men: Bi Men by Women. In the lengthy tome, she illustrates how bi men make the best lovers, husbands, and fathers. So when people refuse to date bi men, yeah, they are missing out. That really does suck for them. Or when straight guys fetishize bi women, turning them off, these straight guys, too, are missing out on all the awesome things that bi women offer in relationships.

5. Take breaks from coming out to everyone

If you come out to multiple people in a row, and they all don't believe you're bi, take a break. Otherwise, you may begin to resent being bi. You'll be tired of it. You'll grow to hate your own identity and feel lost in the world. The name of the game is self-care. Being bi — and having your identity ripped from you — isn't fun, no matter how confident you are in your bisexuality or how little validation you need from others. If other people are only making you see the cons of being bi, as opposed to all the pros and ways your bisexuality is a blessing, then take a break from telling people.

A young latino man stands with arms crossed and smiles.

You don't have to deny who you are or all the wonderful aspects of your bisexuality, but you also don't have to tell every super judgmental stranger you meet either.