For those of you who don't know, Bi Visibility Day is coming up on September 23rd. Very few people are aware of this day. I think this is in part because people don't always have an understanding of why bisexuality requires its own day. Many seem to think bisexuality is just a kind of "gay light". But that's simply untrue.
In fact, bi folks face quite a few unique challenges. The more time I spend involved in bi activism and talking to other bi folks, the more I hear one major complaint. "No one wants to date me." It normally comes down to "people keep rejecting me as a potential romantic partner because I am bi". Bi women frequently complain that lesbians won't date them, because many lesbians are afraid that they will end up leaving them for a man. Bi men complain that straight women won't date them, because these women are afraid that they will leave them for a man. Gay men won't date bi men, because they assume these men are in the closet. And everyone assumes you're a slut.
Yeah but, can it really be that bad? Yes. This week, the online adult store, Adamandeve.com released the results of a survey asking the question "Would You Be Open to Dating Someone Who is Bisexual?" They asked 1000 American adults, 18 and over this question. It turns out that a whopping 47% of respondents said no. Another 19% were undecided, and only 35% were open to dating bi people. So yes it really is that bad. Imagine if instead of bisexual, the survey had said left-handed. I'm sure someone out there has a very valid reason for not wanting to date left-handed people. I can't imagine what it is, but I accept that my imagination is limited. Now imagine 47% of the population said they absolutely would not date a left-handed person.
But bisexuality is, of course, different. Bisexuality does relate to relationships more than your dominant hand. If you believe that all same-sex attraction is sinful, you probably don't want to date a bi person. If you think that one gender has cooties and it's just gross that your partner may be attracted to that gender, you will be incompatible. These are not things I personally believe or friends of mine believe, but I will accept this reasoning for why you shouldn't date a bi person. I don't think that sin and cooties explains why 47% of the population absolutely would not date bi folks.
So let's break down the most common reasons that I hear a person is unwilling to date someone who is bi.
From the lesbian women: "You will leave me for a man."
Imagine you never entered another relationship with someone who might leave you. Most relationships end. To quote Dan Savage: "every relationship you are in will fail, until one doesn't". Your bi girlfriend isn't going to leave you because she quits being attracted to women. Your relationship will fail for reasons any of your other relationships might fail. One of you gets bored, one of you moves, you drift apart, the sex sucks, you find out that they're a slob, or you just realize that it isn't going to work. Whether she goes on to date a man or a woman in no way invalidates your relationship.
From the straight women: "You will leave me for a man."
Same thing as above: whomever he dates next, he was still attracted to you. That's what bisexual means. Yes, some men say they are bi before they say they are gay. Some gay men say they are straight before they say they are gay. Some gay men date women while they are still trying to figure out their orientation and how/whether to come out. The closet exists. Being out and bi isn't actually easier than being out and gay. If a man who wasn't attracted to women really wants to date women, it would be much simpler to lie and say he was straight than lie and say he was bi. Bi men exist. If a bi guy leaves you, it's not because he is bi. So why not give a guy a chance?
From the gay men: "You are in the closet."
Starting to notice a pattern? Maybe give the person you are dating the courtesy of believing them when they say they are bi. It is a real orientation. In fact, more people are bisexual than homosexual. I know that coming out is a unique and difficult thing. Maybe you personally even identified as bi for a moment, but that doesn't mean that the person you're dating is doing the same thing.
From everyone: "You are a giant slut and will bring disease and tragedy unto me."
Bi folks are like everyone else. Some have high sex drives; some have low. Some are polyamorous; some are monogamous. Some are awesome people; some are probably less awesome. Don't assume that because someone is bi that they are promiscuous or unsafe.
From everyone: "One of the above has happened to me (or a friend), so now it is true of all bisexual people."
Most people have had bad dating experiences; many have had their hearts broken. You frequently want an explanation for why a bad thing happened. But, trust me, it's not because your partner was bi. Relationships fail for a lot of reasons; sometimes people are terrible, sometimes it just doesn't work. It sucks, but the solution is not to avoid ever dating anyone again. Just because one person hurt you, it does not mean that they represent the actions of an entire group.
Everyone is allowed to have dating preferences and some of them are more idiosyncratic than others. Sadly, all of the most common reasons I read for people being hesitant or unwilling to date bi people boil down to the misconception that bi folks are somehow untrustworthy. People are unwilling to believe a bi person when they say that they are monogamous or when they say that they are truly interested in you or even when they say that they are bi.
Bisexual is a simple word. It describes a person whose attractions aren't limited to one gender. That's all. Any other assumption based upon that word is a biphobic stereotype.
So please take a moment and think. Would you be open to dating someone who is bisexual? If not, maybe ponder why. Could it possibly be prejudice and stereotypical assumptions? Next time, before swiping left, take a second to chat with this bi person about your concerns rather than just assume that they are a lying slut who will leave you for a man/woman as soon as the opportunity arises.
Bi folks, remember bi visibility day is coming up. Take the time to discuss some of these prejudices with people and see if we can change some minds.