Aaron Carter made headlines when he came out as bi a few months ago. Right after coming out, he told paparazzi at an LAX baggage claim that he was only interested in pursuing relationships with women.
"When it comes down to it, really, I had an experience when I was 17 with a guy, but now as an almost 30-year-old man, I'm going to be pursuing relationships with women," he said.
Then, on December 18th, in the newest installment of the podcast LGBTQ&A, Carter told host Jeffrey Masters that he's open to the idea of dating men as well as women.
"I definitely embrace my bisexuality, and, you know, it's still new to me," Carter said. "I'm just still confused about it...I mean, I did have a relationship with a great guy when I was younger... I'm single right now, so I don't know." (You can check out the full episode here.)
Okay, so I have things to say about all this. In fact, I was up all night thinking about his coming out process. Specifically, what I want to discuss is the notion of "confusion" which often looms over bisexuality and other sexual fluid identities like an ominous cloud.
One of the more annoying responses bi folks receive when coming out as bi is that they're confused. Eventually, according to the naysayers, they will realize they significantly prefer one gender more, and will then proceed to settle down with that one gender. (Which still qualifies as being bisexual!)
Now Aaron Carter said he was confused. He used those words verbatim. Nevertheless, he said he's embraced his bisexuality. Thus, his confusion isn't related as to whether or not he's attracted to men and women. That seems clear. His confusion stems from not knowing what to do next with his newly embraced identity.
He knows he's attracted to (at least) two genders, but does that mean he pursues men and women equally? Does he go to gay bars or straight bars to meet potential partners? Does he prefer intimacy with one gender to another? Oftentimes, embracing your attraction to multiple genders is just the start of your sexual identity journey. For Aaron, this seems like the case.
So interestingly enough, I would disagree with Aaron. I wouldn't say he's confused. In fact, as far as the notion of "confusion" relates to bisexuality, I would say it's an insidious concept created by monosexuals.
When I hear about Aaron's journey, as a bi person, my gut response isn't to claim he's confused. I would say, "He's figuring out what he wants." Similarly, if I heard of a gay man who's unsure of how he wants his future relationships with other men to look, I wouldn't say he's not gay. I would say the same thing: He's figuring out what he wants. Maybe this gay man wants a nonmonogamous relationship. Maybe he wants a dom/slave relationship. Maybe he wants to remain single for the rest of his life. Maybe something else entirely.
Your gut response may say those two situations aren't comprable, but why aren't they? The gay man knows he's solely attracted to men. He's just not sure of how to pursue relationships with men, because he's not entirely sure of what he wants out of his relationships. Similarly, bi folks, (or at least in Aaron's case) have embraced their bisexuality. They're just not sure how their future relationships will manifest themselves. Additionally, even if Aaron becomes monogamous with a woman or man, he'll still be bi. As we all know, our sexuality doesn't disappear because we're in a monogamous relationship.
So at the end of the day, the only difference between confusion and "figuring out what you want", is the underlying emotions that accompany the uncertainty. If you feel lost, powerless, and like everything that's in flux is out of your control, then you're confused. I believe this is what monosexuals assume that bi folks are feeling. They then, unconsciously, project that confusion onto us. Then we, as bisexuals, accidentally internalize the feelings inextricably linked to confusion.
But sexuality isn't stagnant. In fact, it's a journey for everyone regardless of sexual orientation, then we can approach Aaron's coming out process, not as confusion, but as a journey.
I think having this mentality as a sexually fluid person is a lot healthier than saying we're "confused". It leads to exploration, personal embrace, and the acceptance of ambiguity in our lives, rather than feelings of crippling loss.