Your Fence Is Sitting On Me


Self-identification and the borders of bisexuality

I posted this in a comment at the bi tumblr facebook group. I think it’s probably the best job I’ve done so far at explaining why I won’t allow any questioning of how truthful famous people are when they ID as bi, so I thought I’d post it here as well.

The reason we say there is no wrong way to be bi, and that it’s not ok to question people’s bisexuality, is that if we allow others to question on person’s bisexuality, we allow them to question all people’s bisexuality. We’re teaching them that it’s ok to not believe someone when they say they’re bi unless they can prove it - and proving it is extremely difficult.

It’s in some people’s interest to severely limit the number of people that can be considered bi, because if there are few enough of us, they don’t have to listen to us or take us seriously. I think that as soon as we allow anything but self-identification to set the limits for bisexuality, those limits become increasingly narrow until there are virtually none of us left.

For instance, the only way to really “prove” that you’re bi is to have had relationships with people of more than one gender. This leaves out people who haven’t had any relationships yet, or who just happen to have only had relationships with one particular gender, or people who have realised their sexuality only when they’re grown up and married or in an otherwise committed relationship.

But then, a lot of gay people used to think they were straight, right? Many gay men have had relationships with women but as soon as they come out, those relationships become irrelevant. So a lot of people think that only the gender of your current partner determines your sexuality. So if you’re a woman, and you’ve had relationships with women, but you’re now married to a man? You’ve chosen a side, they say. You were straight all along. If it’s the other way around, you were gay all along. So that leaves out anyone in a committed monogamous relationship.

Who’s left then? Single people, people who aren’t interested in relationships, people who cheat on their partners, and people in open or poly relationships. But these are often considered “bad” bisexuals - the proof that bisexual people can’t commit, are greedy or slutty, and can’t ever be satisfied in a monogamous relationship.

And so, in the end, they’ve defined us out of existence. Because there are no true bisexuals to them, just greedy unfaithful whores. And nobody needs to take those people seriously!

So this is why I’ll always defend the right to self-identify, and always be in favour of a bisexuality with broad definitions and vague borders.