The “B” in the LGBTIQ+ stands for Bisexual, these people are attracted to their gender and any other gender. This includes physical, sexual, emotional attraction, and can be in a relationship with either. Over time in life, a bisexual person might feel attracted to men, women, transgender people, and/or gender-queer people, or to one gender in preference to the others. The strength of these attractions may change. Being bisexual does not define either one’s lifestyle or sexual behavior.
Gender differs from sexuality; hence, bisexuals may be men, women, or gender-queer. Some may be comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth or they may be transgender. Bisexuals may or may not be in a relationship.
Common myths on bisexuality
The bisexual community has been and still get attacked in an attempt to erase their existence, here are a few myths you’re likely to have heard about bisexuality:
- They do not exist, and should identify as gay or straight.
This may be true for some, but it does not apply to all. It all boils down to what makes you feel comfortable and what you perceive yourself to be.Bisexuals exist, and you should feel no pressure to identify in any particular way, just because someone said so. Chalo, a bisexual man from Nigeria shared his thought with us;
“I am bisexual, I realized I was sexually attracted to boys since 1996, having attended a boarding school, I am attracted to females as well, but I have a higher preference for males. For several years, I had bottled the hate that come from me being bisexual. But in my own world, I am a free person.”Chalo, Bisexual. Nigerian.
- They are untrustworthy, hedonistic, and immoral.
This myth reflects our culture’s ambivalence over sex and pleasure. The “sex” in bisexuality gets overemphasized, and our culture simply projects this onto bisexuals. Asher, 26 said;
“I am a bi-romantic asexual, not sexually attracted to anyone, but I am romantically attracted to both genders. Sex is not on my pleasure/intimacy list. Its sounds absurd, but it’s true, and I’m not the only one. -Asher, 26. Nigerian
- Bisexuals spread AIDS to the LGBTIQ and heterosexual community.
The myth above allows discrimination against bisexuals to be legitimized. The label “bisexual” simply refers to sexual orientation. It says nothing about whether one practices safe sex or not. AIDS occurs in people of all sexual orientations. AIDS is contracted through unsafe sexual practices, shared needles, and contaminated blood transfusions. Sexual orientation does not “cause” AIDS.
- Bisexuals are desperately unhappy, endlessly seeking some kind of peace that they cannot ever find.
If you were raised in Africa, and aren’t straight, chances are that you would understand this. It isn’t peculiar to the bisexual folks alone as Lesbians and gay men who have also been told that they will live awful lives. People genuinely concerned about the “awful lives” of bisexuals should just join the fight against homophobia.
- Bisexuals are traitors to the cause of lesbian/gay liberation. They pass as heterosexual to avoid trouble and maintain heterosexual privilege.
Obviously, there are bisexuals who pass as heterosexual to avoid trouble, it is very common in Africa, but there are also many lesbians and gays who do this. To “pass” for heterosexual and deny the part of you that loves people of the same gender is just as painful and damaging for a bisexual as it is for a lesbian or gay person. This is a price some LGBTQ folks have to pay in the hetero-normative society and it shouldn’t be used as a weapon to validate them. Remember, you are who you are, regardless of what anyone thinks or agree with.
*Excerpted and altered from Sharon Sumpter’s and Amanda Udis-Ressler’s pieces on the myths and realities of bisexuality.
Respondents– Chalo and Asher.
*Names in this piece have been changed to protect privacy, and all images used are stock photos meant for illustrative purposes only.