A lot of stereotypes exist about what it means or looks like to be bisexual or identify under the umbrella of bi+. Ultimately, to be bi+ means to have an attraction to more than one gender. Misconceptions about bi+ people stereotype us as greedy, confused, or going through a phase. That biphobia can also be internalized personally by people who do experience attraction to and relationships with people of different genders, and affect how bi+ people feel about their identities.
Whatever you think you know or understand about bisexuality from tropes in pop culture, TV, movies, or even conversations with people might not necessarily be correct. To set the record right, the best thing we can do is listen to bi+ folks themselves, because it’s clear there are many ways to own your identity and experience bisexuality, pansexuality, or queerness.
Here are 11 people on what being bi+ looks like and means to them.
Raksha, 23, bisexual Indian woman
“Love is something I give easily and often. It’s a privilege to experience any sort of relationship with another human being and, to me, being bi simply means having an open heart and mind to letting all relationships grow without imposing an artificial upper limit on their intimacy. I’m proud to be fearless in love, growing from the pain and joy it brings time and time again. In short, being bi feels like the radical act of loving love.”
Matthew, 28, non-binary bisexual person
“Being openly bisexual is only something I’ve come into in the last few years. After many years of knowing I was bi but only sharing that with close friends, I began to see more and more discussion about bisexual erasure and invisibility. I realized in 2017 that I could use my privilege as a white, assigned male at birth person with supportive family and friends and a stable career to make myself more visible as a bisexual person by coming out online.
Today, my visibility looks like a line in my Twitter location field that says I’m bi, showing up to LGBTQ+ events and spaces in the city and beyond, and sharing bisexuality news and memes on my social media.
[I want people to know that] bisexuality is trans-inclusive. This is incredibly important and widely misunderstood. Being bisexual means that I am attracted to people of all genders, but that gender can play a role in that attraction. Identifying as bisexual doesn’t mean you’re a slut, it doesn’t mean you can’t make up your mind, it doesn’t mean you’re in a ‘phase.’ Your sexual orientation is something to be celebrated, not denigrated. Also, if a bisexual person is dating or having sex with someone of a different gender, it doesn’t make them any less bisexual.”
Maria, 23, bisexual person
“I first had feelings for the same sex at 5 years old and questioned my sexuality well into adulthood. Even at 23, I’m still not 100% sure where I stand. You’re allowed to love who you want and express yourself however you want and are under no pressure to proudly wear the bi+ label. Some people are visibly bi activists, and some people prefer to keep it on the DL. Both are okay! Due to the prominence of bi erasure, people tend to pick gay or straight as it’s just easier to navigate the world that way. That’s why being visibly bi is an act of education and resistance. You’re showing people, ‘Yes, you can be bi. You don’t have to choose. Whatever you feel internally, you can express externally.’”
“Being visibly bi means not looking visibly bi or queer for me, because I’m in a long term relationship with a cis man and people assume we’re straight. It’s frustrating, and has taken years for me to stop internalizing biphobic messaging that invalidates my identity because I’ve ‘picked a side.’ It’s a constant struggle between wanting people to understand my identity and picking my battles with ignorant people. Bisexuality doesn’t look a specific way. It doesn’t matter if someone is with someone of their same gender or another, it doesn’t change their identity. We’re also not more likely to cheat or more likely to have STDs/STIs because we’re bisexual.”
“I spent my late teens and 20’s in a long-term relationship with a cis man, and I thought my attraction to other genders ‘didn’t count’ since I’d only dated men. A few years ago we decided to open up our relationship, and it’s been really wonderful to get to explore my attraction and the connections I have with people of all genders.