Following recent events and a seemingly international push for equality, the LGBTQ community has never been in a better position. We are continuing to progress in our representations, our social and legal equality and, perhaps most important of all, our individual voices, so that who we are can be understood and known instead of an overly used stereotype.
We are a section of humanity that is separated by our sexuality and definitions of gender. The majority of the world’s population will identify as heterosexual because they simply either are, or because for most it’s seen as the only option. I would tentatively guess/hope that in the future more people will be able to say they are bisexual (or better yet not need to) because we won’t still be trying to limit people to the binary choice of gay or straight.
Most often, LGBTQ issues are simply referred to as Gay issues, as in Gay Rights and the Gay movement, which makes sense when at the start of the fight for equality some fifty years ago the best way to go against the grain, the straight world, was to identity as what was seen as the polar opposite. Being gay was the other option. Now that there is a widely acknowledged spectrum from straight to gay however, it’s time to start fighting for that representation using a better blanket term.
Bisexuality falls into a heavily criticised middleground by both the heterosexual and homosexual community, often undermined as either a phase or indecisiveness. Especially among young people or anyone who is just beginning to accept their own sexuality, it’s seen as either the step before admitting homosexuality or using it to play on a rebellious niche that’s sometimes seen as cool. Granted there are people for whom this is true, but more than ever I feel we have a generation growing up with a more fluid view of sexuality. Accepting a term can be a useful tool that leads to accepting the people it describes.
I’m often asked, as a bisexual man, whether I prefer men or women and every time I answer that it’s not about preference. I would not be surprised to learn that most don’t realise that bisexuality exists on a scale. A range that includes: those who will dabble with someone of the same or opposite sex but don’t want a relationship with them, to those who will sleep with anyone but want their “end game” relationship to be with someone of the opposite sex, all the way to someone who prefers to be with someone of the same sex, but can and will be with someone of the opposite sex if they take their fancy. Personally, I’ve found myself fluctuating in my interests based on if there is someone of a particular sex I’m interested in or who I’m around socially.
When I first moved to Brighton I found myself enthused and excited by men, just having the option that I didn’t have in the small town I came from opened my eyes to the very real possibility, but then finding there was a girl at university that I really liked I noticed women more.
I’m confident that until the day I die I’ll identity as bisexual regardless of if I end up with a man or a woman. Most people have heard a story about a man who comes out as gay after he’s married and has children, which is a hard situation for all involved. But I’ve always wondered, why don’t these people come out as bisexual? If they loved a woman at some point, aren’t they more likely to be bisexual rather than gay? It seems that more often than not we put people into the one or the other category when so many of us could happily be put into a more open and free flowing label such as bisexuality. Equally, it should be remembered, if someone wants to experiment with their sexuality and tries being with someone of the same sex but decides it’s not for them, it doesn’t necessarily make them bisexual, and it certainly doesn’t mean they are pretending to be straight.
In the end, at this time and place in society we have a real need to be able to identify people by the more specific terms associated with sexuality when relevant, rather than using generalisations. Progress comes through understanding.