Bisexual is an orientation in which one’s desires are not limited to one gender or sexual physiology. It is also used for members of a community of people with bisexual orientation. In the latter definition, “Bisexual” will be capitalized to indicate community affiliation as well as sexual orientation, and “bisexual” for orientation alone. In LGBTQ folklife, “Bisexual” is an important identity within the Straight-Gay spectrum.
Although Bisexuals are accepted within the LGTBQ fold (the “B” in “LGBTQ”) as a matter of course, there is nevertheless a tendency towards biphobia (anxiety about and distain for Bisexuals) among not just Straight people but also Gay people, some of whom say that Bisexuals are those with same-sex orientation who have not come to terms with their own sexuality.
Bisexual Identities and Orientations
Since the concept of bisexuality covers identities and levels of attraction inclusive of homosexuality and heterosexuality, people who identify or are defined as such vary greatly in their attractions and sexual practices. An important aspect of bisexuality is its apparent fluidity over time. The majority of bisexuals are not attracted equally to both men and women. In fact, it is common to be more attracted to one sex for a period of time and then switch to the other. There are bisexuals who remain constant in their attraction to one gender over another, but are fundamentally attracted to both.
Bisexuality is sometimes viewed as an ambiguous state, and there often exists a certain level of confusion regarding who can be considered bisexual. For example, there are homosexuals who occasionally engage in sexual activities with members of the opposite sex who self-identify as Gay male or Lesbian instead of Bisexual. Conversely, there are self-identified heterosexuals who, at times, are attracted to members of their own sex. This exemplifies the point that definitions of sexuality can be both self- and socially-defined. Many psychologists and theorists believe that most people are bisexual and, for social or personal reasons, choose to identify strictly as Gay or Straight.
Bisexuals, Communities, and Activism
Identity-related issues inform how Bisexuals relate to one another and form communities. Some find social outlets within the LGBTQ community, and identify with homosexuals on a certain level. These people sometimes consider themselves Gay male or Lesbian-identified Bisexuals. Others who are sometimes called “Straight-identified Bisexuals” have little to do with LGBTQ culture. Some Bisexuals choose to only fraternize with other Bisexuals and do not participate in Straight or the greater Gay communities. It is also important to note that there are potential distinctions to be made between an individual’s identity-based community and one’s sexual network (community of possible sexual partners).
In general, the Bisexual community celebrates sexual liberty, pride, choice, diversity, and the notion of individuality. As a folk, Bisexuals are typically attracted to one another through shared beliefs in anti-hatred, anti-discrimination, anti-biphobia, and non-conformism.
An important symbol of bisexuality is the biangle, interlocking pink and blue triangles that form a small purple triangle in the middle. The pink triangle is taken from the Gay symbol, and the blue triangle is representative of heterosexuality. Another common symbol of bisexuality is the Bisexual Pride flag (also known as the Bi Pride Flag), which consists of a pink stripe at the top, a blue stripe at the bottom, and a thinner purple stripe between pink and blue. A more recent bisexuality symbol is a double moon in which the astrological symbols of Mars and Venus (representing heterosexual union) are depicted as two circles, open on both ends, symbolizing the fact that bisexuals are open to unions with either sex. The double moons are most commonly seen in the pink, purple, and blue color scheme.
Weinberg, Martin S. and Colin J. Williams, Douglas W. Pryor. Dual Attraction: Understanding Bisexuality. Oxford: Oxford University, 1994.
Ochs, Robyn and Sarah E. Rowley. Getting By: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World. Boston: Bisexual Research Center, 2005.