After breaking free from the shackles of heterosexuality and embracing my identity as a proud bi man, I have relentlessly pursued a never-ending advocacy mission: encouraging people to accept and understand bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation. I have used many approaches to spread bi awareness and inspire acceptance among skeptical audiences in my years since coming out. However, despite countless testimonials from me and other members of the bi community — as well as scientific studies confirming bisexuality as legitimate — many people remain unconvinced that a person can be anything other than hyperpolarized when it comes to sexual attraction.
One of the most frequent rebuffs I hear from the naysayers is that they “just don’t understand” how I feel as a bi man, which in turn means they do not understand bisexuality and cannot accept it as valid. To them, the idea of being open to any relationship, regardless of sex or gender, is incomprehensible. For a long time, I put all my efforts into trying to get people to understand what it is like to live as a bi man because I thought through that understanding, acceptance would soon follow.
However, in my ongoing quest to help the bi skeptics — or just those who legitimately do not have a clue about bisexuality — attain at least a surface level of understanding of what it means to be bi, I have developed a new approach to supplement these efforts. It is honestly quite simple; so simple, in fact, I’m surprised it took me so long to implement.
Rather than kicking things off by asking doubters for understanding, my first step is to ask for their acceptance. Why did I make this switch? It is fairly straightforward: if you identify as heterosexual, homosexual, or a different sexual orientation, why would you have an innate understanding of what it means to be bisexual? How could you? Your life is not inundated with the ups and downs bi individuals experience on a regular basis because you are not bi. It is simply a life experience that you do not have.
But I am bi. I see the world through a bi lens, and though being bisexual does not define me, it is a major part of who I am and has a significant impact on my life each day. It influences my relationships, goals, and even where I choose to live, which means I have a firm grasp on what it means to be bisexual — or at the very least, what it means for me to be bi. I can and am happy to draw upon this knowledge to help individuals gain at least a theoretical understanding of what it means to be bi, but for us to reach that goal, they must first accept bisexuality is valid.
Now you might be asking yourself, “How can I accept something I don’t fully understand?" It’s simple: all you have to do is trust me (or any other bi person in your life). You do not have to know all the points of what it means to be bi to accept bisexuality as valid; frankly, bisexuality is a different experience for everyone. You just need to have enough confidence in me and my word to know what I am saying as a bi man is true. By rejecting my word and bisexuality in general because you do not instantly understand it — which is unlikely in any instance when encountering something new — you are essentially disregarding my experience, integrity, and legitimacy not just as a bi man but as a person overall.
It might seem like a backward approach to some, asking for acceptance before understanding, but this tactic has proven to be successful in many instances. It is especially effective when discussing bisexuality with those you already have a personal relationship with. If they know your character to be honorable, trustworthy, and reliable, they know they can count on your word.
It is also reasonable to ask for this acceptance even when engaging with people you do not know very well. In my opinion, if you enter a conversation already unaccepting and dismissive of the topic being discussed, you are not interested in having a constructive dialogue at all. You cannot expect to learn anything about a new subject if you enter the conversation thinking (or pretending) you know everything there is to know already.
In my mind, it ultimately comes down to this: you must accept there are things in this world you will not immediately — or perhaps ever — fully understand. However, that does not mean your understanding cannot grow over time. The first step in developing this understanding is by finding a trusted source to show you the way.
I would not be here writing articles if I did not know with every fiber of my being that I am a proud bi man. It took me a long time to accept myself, but by taking that plunge and embracing my entire being — even before fully understanding how beautiful the bi community is — I gave myself the opportunity to grow into the person I am today. A person who is still growing, still working to improve upon my understanding of myself, bisexuality, the LGBTI community, and countless other subjects each day.
All I can say is I hope you embrace any opportunity to grow and broaden your understanding of the world, and that includes accepting someone when they tell you they are bi. You might not understand it at first, but by supporting and accepting the bi people in your life, some level of comprehension will undoubtedly follow.