“Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.” –Mark Twain
This is a term I coined in 2011 when I first came out to friends and family. I invented that word in order to remind myself that it is just a label and that I have the right to wear it as I please and, sometimes, to put it away and focus on other aspects of who I am: mother, entrepreneur, friend, coach, change agent.
From my earliest memories, I have always been attracted to both males and females. I am especially attracted to people who are kind, loving, funny, intelligent and artistic, regardless of their gender. However, societal pressure to be straight was especially “Just Say No” in the ‘80s and ‘90s when I grew up. Before I had even been with my first boyfriend, I knew I was different, and I sensed I would not be accepted. My first crushes included Shaun Cassidy, Scott Baio, Molly Ringwald, Sting, Winona Ryder, David Bowie, Dave Gahan, Cyndi Lauper and Johnny Depp. I dated men throughout high school and college, then I met Justin, and we were happily married for nineteen years. We are still best friends.
There are many misconceptions in mainstream heterosexual culture, as well as among lesbian and gay people, about bi-beautiful people. There is the assumption that we are oversexed, confused or just “want it all.” The truth is that many of us are monogamous or in open relationships that are loving, respectful and honest. According to an August 2012 article, “Bisexuality Myths Debunked By Science,” by Samantha Joel, M.A. on The Science of Relationships website:
In reality, a great many bisexual individuals have happily monogamous relationships with their partners; for example, by the end of Dr. Diamond’s ten-year study, fully 89% of bisexual women were in monogamous, long-term relationships. Furthermore, for those bisexual individuals who do desire multiple sexual partners, research suggests that they typically achieve this goal by negotiating open relationships with their partners, NOT by sneaking around behind their partners’ backs.34
It is empowering to discover that research confirms that many bi-women like myself prefer committed, monogamous relationships. However, I do not feel that I or anyone else has a right to impose that lifestyle or any other choice on others. Some people also now choose polyamorous relationships with the full consent of their primary partners. Since the famous 1940s Kinsey and 1960s Masters and Johnson research studies into sex and gender, there has been ongoing scientific research done in the areas of sexuality, identity and relationships that includes a wide spectrum of what is considered to be “normal.”
According to research in the National Survey on Family Growth (NSFG), which was conducted between 2006 to 2008 and included ~13,500 survey respondents between the ages of 15 to 44 from across the United States:
83% of women were attracted only to men, slightly less than 1% were
attracted only to women, and 15% expressed some level of attraction to both sexes; 94% of women self-identify as heterosexual, 1% as homosexual and 4% as bi-sexual.
94% of men were attracted only to women, slightly more than 1% were attracted only to men, and 5% expressed some level of attraction to both sexes; 96% of men self-identify as heterosexual, 2% as homosexual/gay, and 1% as bisexual.35
While these percentages are self-reported, and it is likely that today’s LGBTQ numbers are actually higher, it still provides an intriguing snapshot of scientific research on attraction, as compared with self-labeled sexual identity. 15% of women attracted to both sexes, but only 4% self-identifying as bi-sexual? 5% of men expressing attraction to both sexes, but only 1% self-identifying as bi-sexual? The Science of Relationships: Answers to Your Questions About Dating, Marriage, and Family offers this and many more intriguing questions and answers.
Truthfully, being bi- is a beautiful part of who I am. I love people, though not all of them physically; and, unless I’m planning on sleeping with you, you likely really don’t care. I’ve noticed that the people who do get upset about it are wrestling with their own demons, doctrines and dichotomies. Yet, it is inspiring to be part of a rising group of “rainbow people,” who are choosing to be true to ourselves by embracing relationships that are in integrity with who we are.
I debated coming out in this way, because there are political and social, professional and personal ramifications. Interestingly, most of my straight friends recommended not coming out. They said that “it didn’t matter” in a book such as this. Most of my LGBTQ friends said to be honest with myself and others, that it would have a lasting loving impact for others who debate coming out fully. All of my friends love me no matter what. Yet, it is important to point out certain biases and privileges.
Straight people never have to ask themselves, Should I tell them I’m straight or not?, nor do they have to be afraid that they will be rejected or scorned or thrown out because of a core part of who they are. The assumption among mainstream Americans is that being heterosexual is the norm. Also, people who discover I am bi-, and not straight, seem to feel like I lied to them or betrayed them in some way, especially straight women. Straight people seem to view bi-beautiful people like we are wolves in sheep’s clothing, while gay and lesbian people sometimes think bi-beautiful people can “pass” as heterosexual and, therefore, have it easier than they do. A friend of mine explained to me that “politically and socially gays and lesbians are trying to fit into mainstream by asserting that being gay is not a choice but a natural part of who they are, and being bi-sexual seems to contradict that.” In truth being bi-beautiful is also a natural way of being and not a choice.
Bi-sexuals have likely existed for as long as mankind has walked the Earth. Notable historical figures as Alexander the Great, Hadrian, Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo, up to David Bowie, Madonna and Lady Gaga, are included among three hundred fifty others in an illustrious list, “Famous Bisexual People in History,” compiled by Sheela Lambert, founder of the Bi Writers Association and its Bisexual Book Awards and Bi Lines reading series.36
On November 13th, 2013 Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law equal marriage in the State of Hawai‘i, and on December 2nd that law went into effect allowing people to marry the person thy love regardless of gender. Yet, it was without opposition, and those opponents still had misconceptions about how that law would apply specifically to bi-sexuals. Representative Mike Gabbard stated in his ignorance that LGBTQ advocates, “seem to have forgotten their bisexual brothers and sisters.”37 His assumption seems to be that all bi-sexuals are polygamists or are polyamorous. When in actuality the Hawai‘i Marriage Equality Act allows me and people like me to marry whomever, one person, male or female, whom they love.38
I am choosing to come out, if for no other reason, than that it is important to me to be authentic. I choose to be me: Hapa, Interfaith, Bi-beautiful and any other label I choose or decline to be. I am free to be fully me.
*Websites about National and International Coming Out Day:
34 Joel, Samantha M.A. “Bisexuality Myths Debunked By Science.” August 2, 2012. Science of Relationships.com. 23 May 2013. http://www.scienceofrelationships.com/home/2012/8/2/bisexuality-myths-debunked-by-science.html.
35 Chandra, A. W.D. Mosher, and C. Copen. 2011. Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States. Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf. Published in Lewandowski, Gary W. Jr., Ph.D., Timothy J. Loving, Ph.D., Benjamin Le, Ph.D. and Marci E.J. Gleason, Ph.D. Editors. The Science of Relationships: Answers to Your Questions about Dating, Marriage and Family. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing Co., 2011, 188.
36 Lambert, Sheela. “Famous Bisexual People in History.” 25 July 2013. http://www.examiner.com/article/famous-bisexuals-history.
"Self Love" excerpted from The Creating CoPOWERment Workbook: Embracing the Power of Positive Psychology, Healing Stories and Explorations to Create the Life You Want ©2013 Lani Kwon, MA, published by Balboa Press, a Division of Hay House, Inc.