28 November 2010

THT: Bisexuality

I have been thinking for a few weeks now that I needed to bring up bisexuality. Frankly, I am a bit disappointed in myself for not bringing up the issue before. You see, I am just as ignorant of bisexuality as many heterosexual people are of homosexuality. I cannot understand bisexuals on the level that another bisexual could. Realizing this helps me see why it is so hard for straight people to even consider gay people.

When I started the polls on my site, I included heterosexuality and homosexuality. I completely left out bisexuality. Not on purpose, mind you. I just forgot. When I realized this, it was too late to change the poll because people had already voted. So please, if any of you reading this fall into the spectrum of bisexuality, forgive me.
I firmly believe that bisexuality is just as real as homosexuality. I also believe that many people use this as a stepping stone on their way to accepting that they are gay. It is far easier to admit you are bisexual than homosexual. At least then you can still hold onto the possibility that you like, and could make a life with a woman. I myself went through a short time (very short) when I would claim bisexuality. I was so afraid of the word gay. It was the stepping stone between straight and gay.

However, it wasn't long before I realized I was being a coward. Too afraid to face the real truth that I was pretty much as gay as they come. I have no interest in intimate relationships with women. In fact, female sexuality is a bit hard for me to swallow most of the time. I am not disgusted by the female form... but just don't show me anything sexual. Anyway, many, like me, claim bisexuality for a time because it is easier than claiming homosexuality.

Having said that, there are true bisexuals walking among us. I didn't believe it until having met some. One of my good friends is bisexual. Let me say how difficult I imagine being a bisexual would be. Like I said before, I don't understand it. I have heard some people describe it like this:
There are times in my life when I am noticing a lot more females and feel the draw to be with a girl while I almost entirely ignore males. Then, after a time (usually months, and sometimes years), all of a sudden, it switches and I find myself checking out males almost exclusively.
One of my friends is in a gay relationship. At one point, while he was in the relationship, he was very much interested in women. He didn't care to check out guys at all. But he stayed committed and eventually that period passed.

Can you imagine the frustration? I certainly feel like my orientation is much easier to deal with than bisexuality would be. I'm not sure how it works. Can a true bisexual be completely satisfied in a partnership with one member of one gender? If so, I'd imagine that many bisexuals choose the socially acceptable orientation and live life as a heterosexual (I certainly would).

In my research about changing orientation, I have found that most "success" cases are bisexuals and that they learn to suppress the homosexual desires and embrace the heterosexual ones. They learn to find fulfillment in a heterosexual relationship. On the other hand, if there are no heterosexual desires to begin with (and I don't mean "I wish I was straight" I mean, "wow, I'd really like to make out with that girl/boy"), it hasn't proven possible to create those heterosexual feelings to replace the homosexual ones.

Anyway, to all my bisexual brothers and sisters out there- know that you are loved and thought of. I hope that my understanding about your sexuality will continue to grow and that you find the tools you need to help guide you through your life. Regardless of the path you take, I hope you feel my support.


Ned said...

I'm so glad you posted on this topic. Sometimes, as a bisexual man, I feel so alone. Recently I had an online chat with a gay fellow who doesn't think bisexuality exists. To me that's like a protestant saying Mormonism doesn't exist. Sure the Mormons think they're special but they just have restorationist-tendencies. lol. On the other hand, I'm kind of used to this. It hasn't been very long that the church has actually used the word gay without putting it in "scare quotes" or saying "so-called gay".

Anyway I believe that I exist and that my love and and yes, sexual attraction to some men and some women is real. I see myself currently as a Kinsey 4, but when I married my wife I saw myself as a Kinsey 2. Here's a blog entry of mine that you may find of interest.

Gay Mormon said...

@Ned- Thank you for posting a comment here. I loved your blog entry. I know of several gay LDS people that once held prominent positions in the church. While they had never acted on their homosexual feelings, when it was found that they were gay they were "demoted" and put away... basically forcing them to resign.

Others have resigned simply due to the way the church is handling the issue. Anyway, your post was enjoyable.

I'm sorry that bisexuals are so marginalized. Please continue to educate me and help me become more understanding of your situation. I look forward to reading your blog.

apronkid said...

I'm not sure why, but when I started questioning my sexuality, I found it much easier to grasp being homosexual than being bisexual. I kind of skipped the "well, I might be bisexual" phase.

I think the idea scared me because having feelings for both genders sounded so confusing! But what isn't confusing about sexuality? Sexuality is more layered and complex than the labels we choose to give it.

Boris said...

Again, a great post on an important topic. I strongly agree with your assertion re "changing orientation" that "most 'success' cases are bisexuals . . . " My first lover was bisexual--something that is perhaps more acceptable in countries where traditionally men have often loved other men, but have also performed their familial duty to marry, procreate and continue their family line. I myself have never had the slightest heterosexual or bisexual inclination, so "changing my orientation" was never in the realm of possibility, short of the type of miracle that never took place. As for the methods favored by church leaders and BYU at the time (e.g., aversion therapy, see http://www.affirmation.org/anti-gay_actions/in_gods_name.shtml.), they might easily have destroyed my life without ever having achieved the intended result.

Trev said...

Ha ha, I appreciate your sincere effort to be all-inclusive.

I think our culture's current gay/bi/straight is a somewhat false trichotomy. Sexuality is too complex; I can't imagine (certainly not from my own experience) that it's that cut and dry. It comprehends multitude stimulations (visual, emotional, intellectual, sensual, etc.), and everyone reacts to it differently. Certainly more people will fall in certain areas of that spectrum, but I am convinced sexuality is very nuanced and even includes a certain level of fluidity (though of course not necessarily noticeable or present in *everyone*).

I think such a variety is what can cause so many different ideas of sexuality to coexist. While no definition should be forced on anyone, I think we need to be careful about rejecting different types of sexuality or responses to it out of hand just because we can't comprehend them from our own experience.

I feel strongly about this because one of the big things keeping me from being more open about my own sexuality is that I don't really understand it myself, and I am afraid different people will try to convince me I am one way or the other or the other. I feel what I feel, and I hope that others will allow me the freedom to react to and act on that how I feel is appropriate.

I will get off my soapbox now.

Gay Mormon said...

@Trev- I agree that sexuality is so much more complex than what we make it out to be. But I also feel that on some level, we as human beings need to put labels on thing so that we can begin to understand them. The labels (although imperfect and stereotypical) help us to define who we are. Without them, answering the question "who are you?" would be almost impossible due to the extreme complexity in describing the metaphysical make up of a person.

When we start with the basics (ie. I am a child of God, I am Gay, I am American) which are in effect, labels, we can then begin to go beyond the simple stereotypes and determine what it really means for a person to be an American. Each individual person will have different answers for what it means to them to be an American. People who are political may say it means freedom to speak, act, live as the may. Religious people may say, it means they can worship and believe what they want to. A person in poverty may say it means they are stuck at the bottom while the upper class stomp on opportunities. But how do we create meaning without first applying a label or word to begin with? We are limited in our ability to think by our vocabulary. We think in words.

Ask someone to describe fire without using the word fire. One person may say, "it is bright and warm." Another may say, "it is dangerous and painful." Who is right? Well, both are. And guess what? Both descriptions can be said of the label "fire" which we give it.

So yes, sexuality is a very complex thing. It is completely metaphysical. But labels do help to give us a context upon which we can begin to make meaning.

Trev said...

You're right of course, about labels. I think the crux of my comment, not stated very clearly, was just something to the effect of needing to be careful to balance the utility of such labels as you describe with the danger of limiting our conception of possibilities and potentially making others unnecessarily uncomfortable or worse.

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