When I started dating a woman for the first time after years of happily dating men, I had a go-to joke ready for when I was called upon to explain my sexual orientation to the confused: “I’m half gay.
Only on my mom’s side of the family.” I’m one of those people who’d always misguidedly “hated labels,” and I actively eschewed the term “bisexual” for years.
Until about six months ago, when my phone buzzed with a text message from a name I never expected to see on my screen again: “Do you want to get coffee? I needed to tell him I was sorry, he needed to tell me how much I had hurt him, and we both needed to hug. Sure, he may have technically had more options than me — he was drawn to men and women, while I was only drawn to men — but that didn’t make him any more promiscuous or untrustworthy than the next guy.
And since this week is Bisexual Awareness Week, and I’m feeling sentimental, I’m reflecting on the lessons that relationship taught me, and the ways I learned from him — because my ex-boyfriend was bisexual. The reality was far from it: He was unbearably monogamous and loyal to a fault.
But late one night, in a parking lot after we had spent an angry hour talking on the phone, I made a decision that I would later consider an act of mercy for both of us: I would never speak to him again — and didn't.
Also, didn't being with a man who was interested in men women mean that I was competing against everyone in the world for his attention? Bi women are practically mainstream: Megan Fox, Lady Gaga, Anna Paquin, Jessie J, and Evan Rachel Wood, to name only a few, have all spoken openly about being bisexual.
Dan Savage once observed that “most adult bisexuals, for whatever reason, wind up in opposite-sex relationships.” Whether or not you’re a fan of Savage (or his sometimes dubious takes on bisexuality), the statistics support his assertion: The massive 2013 Pew Research LGBT Survey found 84 percent of self-identified bisexuals in committed relationships have a partner of the opposite sex, while only 9 percent are in same-sex relationships. Because on the surface, the fact that 84 percent of bisexuals eventually wind up in opposite-sex partnerships could appear to support the notion that bisexuality is, as people so often insist, actually either “just a phase” or a stepping-stone on the path to “full-blown gayness.” Knowing that wasn’t true, I decided to investigate.
Some of my initial suppositions included internalized homophobia, fear of community and family rejection, and concerns over physical safety.
Then, one night, we wound up in bed together, and let's just say that he did not act like a gay best friend usually acts.
In fact, he seemed more comfortable with my body than plenty of straight men I'd dated had been.