If you’re meeting a bisexual for the first time, or someone is coming out to you as bisexual, and you’re a kind and open-minded person, it’s natural to want to be supportive. However, if you are not familiar with bisexual issues, it’s easy for your naiveté to lead you astray, with the resulting consequence that you end up coming across as ignorant, biphobic, and likely even hurtful.
Here are 10 examples of what we bisexuals sometimes hear from apparently well-meaning people, and why these are oh so not the right thing to say.
We’re glad you are trying to assure us that our life won’t be so tuff, but it just so happens that you don’t know what you’re talking about. We do have to deal with homophobia, plus a whole lot of other horrible stuff.
Biphobia is very real and very alive. For example, sixty percent of bisexual people report hearing anti-bisexual jokes and comments on the job. In fact, our statistics show that we are actually worse off than gay people. Alarmingly, while gay men are about four times more likely than straight men to seriously consider suicide in their lifetime, bisexual men are nearly six and a half times more likely, and while thoughts of suicide tend to lessen as people move from adolescence into adulthood, recent studies show this isn’t the case for bisexuals.
So, not so shocking that we are actually really sick and tired of hearing that we are better off than gays.
If someone has told you that they are bisexual, they have told you that they are not confused, that they know who they are. Bisexuality may be a confusing topic for you, but that’s not because bisexuals are confused, it’s because you are.
When you tell us it’s okay to be confused, you are not only negating that we know how we feel, but also negating that bisexuality is a legitimate sexual identity.
This comment is not reassuring or supportive; it’s infuriating.
Well yeah, it can be pretty cool for us, but really, it just happens to be part of who we are, and it’s not about being cool or getting lots of fun attention, and we totally resent you implying that it is.
Anyway, we’d really rather you didn’t make our sexual orientation sound so exotic, like a pink crystal from Tibet or something. This implies that we are somehow so very different from other people. Sure, we like more than one gender, but we still have to brush our teeth and take out the garbage just like you.
Nice try at being nice, but you kinda made us feel like attention seeking creatures from another planet.
What are you even talking about? Saying that everyone is bisexual is like saying no one is bisexual, and that we might as well ID as gay or straight because all of those people are really bisexual too.
If you think all people are bisexual, you might want to think a little more deeply about your own sexuality, because you must see it in yourself. Yeah, truth is, if you identify as straight or gay and say everyone is bisexual, we begin to wonder if you’re bisexual but kinda aren’t really ready to admit it.
If you’re certain you are not bisexual, then stop saying everyone is; ’cause that just muddies our realities and minimizes our issues.
Yay, experimenting! Woot, woot! NO! This isn’t just fun and games for us. It’s our lives. It’s our reality. Additionally, it’s not a temporary thing that we do until we find the perfect mate. If we decide to settle down, we will still be wholly bisexual, even if in a committed monogamous relationship.
Don’t make our sexual orientation out to be some frivolous nonsense that we want your blessings on. Take us seriously if you want us to take your support seriously, otherwise go give yourself 30 lashings for insulting us, and don’t talk to us again until you’ve read at least 30 postings on BiNet USA’s Facebook page.
From straight men to bisexual women: “I’m so attracted to women that I don’t know how I can hold it against you that you’re attracted to women too.”
Hold it against us! Why would you even consider that? Why has that thought crossed your mind? Obviously, you’re having difficulties coming to terms with our sexuality.
Additionally, you are saying that you likely do have an issue with bisexual men, since you are not attracted to men. Is a person’s sexuality only acceptable to you if you can directly relate?
Sit on a hill and meditate on this a bit, then come back and tell us you accept us for who we are because, well, that’s who we are, and bully for us not trying to be someone we aren’t.
“It’s probably best not to tell anyone about your gay side and just marry someone of the opposite sex, so you know, you can live a normal life.”
It’s difficult to appreciate that you are probably really trying to be helpful, when we are busy resisting the urge to pull out our hair, or yours, in response to this intolerant ignorance. It’s no advantage to live a lie. We’re out to you because we want to be our authentic self, because any advantage of hiding our true self comes at the price of slow emotional death.
Also, if you think it’s easy to shut down feelings we have for someone because they are not the gender that would make our life more “normal,” think again.
Worse or all, you have just shown us, with this comment, that you think being bisexual isn’t “normal.” Perhaps what you are really trying to say is that it would make things easier for you if we stayed closeted?
“You’re bisexual? Oh, that’s okay.”
Though the sentiment seems positive, the message really isn’t. The fact is, we don’t need you to tell us it’s okay; we already know that. You wouldn’t have to say it’s okay if you really thought it was. Obviously, on some level you’re having trouble accepting our sexual identity.
If you found out someone likes reading novels would you say, “Oh, that’s okay”? Of course not, because of course it’s okay. That’s how you should feel about someone saying they are bisexual. Just hear us and accept us unequivocally.
If you and your wife happen to be really hot, there are some of us who might have considered joining you, if you’d only been a little less creepy about asking.
However, many bisexuals would be downright disgusted and offended at this request. Many bisexuals have no interest in three-or-more-somes and there are many among us who don’t even have very much, or especially interesting, sex.
Here’s the thing, some gay and some straight people like more than two people in a bed, and some don’t – same goes for bisexuals. Assuming that we’d just love to get an invitation like this from anyone at any time, makes us feel disrespected and icky.
Don’t let the porn industry’s depiction of bisexuals distort our reality. Have the decency to talk to us with the same basic civility that you would automatically offer anyone else.
“Lucky you, as Woody Allen said, ‘Being bisexual doubles your chances for a date on a Saturday night.'”
Lucky bisexuals who live in your, and Woody Allen’s, fantasy life. As for us real folk, thanks for reminding us of how difficult dating is for bisexuals.
Since the biphobia that calls us cheaters and indiscriminate is so rampant, being bi more like doubles our chances of being rejected. While you’re busy patting yourself on the back for saying something so cleaver and supportive, we’ll go see how many “I’d never date a bisexual!” messages are waiting for us on OK Cupid.
Anyway, check your math. Duh, only a small percentage of men are interested in dating other men, so a guy who’s bi can’t possibly have twice as many options as a straight guy for getting a date.
By the way, we’ve heard this one a hundred times.
Previously published March 20, 2015.