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What Does "Bisexual" Mean?

(Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)

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What Does Bisexual Mean?


(Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)
Brian Rzepczynski 10/24/16

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Recently, a client (well call him Nick) came to me confused about his sexual
orientation, and he wanted help clarifying. He professed to have chronic erotic and
romantic feelings for both genders since adolescence but had only dated and been
sexual with women. Nick was in the midst of exploring a new relationship with a
woman but found himself torn between his unexamined feelings toward men
questioning if he was truly gay.
He discussed how interactions with friends and acquaintances further polarized his
feelings. Some gay men doled out judgments that he was using bisexuality as a way
to avoid the social ramifications that exist in our homophobic culture toward being

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gay and to capitalize on heterosexual privilege. While some straight individuals


snubbed him for having same-sex feelings. Nick felt isolated by both camps and felt
pigeonholed to be either/or with his sexual orientation.
A lot of confusion exists about bisexuality, and the purpose of this article is to shed
some light on this often misunderstood form of sexuality so that we may reduce

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ignorance and validate this orientation as it deserves. Click the links below to jump
to the section that most interests you.

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What Does "Bisexual" Mean? (Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, bisexuality is described as
the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to more than one
gender and a bisexual orientation speaks to the potential for, but not a

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requirement of, involvement with more than one gender.


So this means that someone can be bi and still be a virgin, have had sex with only
members of the same gender, or have only been with partners of the opposite sex,
like Nick.

What is the Difference Between Gay & Bisexual?


Bisexuality is different from homosexuality, in which the emotional and romantic
attractions and sexual behavior are directed only toward members of the same sex.

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To counter many of the objections people can receive because of their bisexual
orientation, American psychiatrist and sex researcher Fritz Klein has said,
bisexuality is not disguised homosexuality, nor is it disguised heterosexuality. It is
another way of sexual expression.
This also means that bisexuality is not necessarily a transitional pathway from
heterosexuality to homosexuality. Bisexuality is a distinct orientation in its own
right. It can, however, be a transitional pathway for a small segment of gay
individuals who are grappling with and coming to terms with understanding their
sexual orientation and identity. Heres an article that showcases the developmental
stages an individual can often go through when formulating a bisexual identity.

What is the Difference Between Bisexual & Pansexual?


HealthyPlace.com describes pansexuality as not limited or inhibited in sexual
choice with regard to gender or activity. The biggest difference between
pansexuality and bisexuality is the focus on gender identity.

3 Bisexual Statistics
In 2011, the Williams Institute at the University of California School of Law
published a research brief that included estimates of the numbers of LGBT
individuals in the United States after conducting a study and comparing it with
other international surveys. Some of the results include:
1. 3.5% of adults (9 million people) in the U.S. identify as LGBT.
2. Bisexuals represent 1.8% of this population.
3. What percent of women are bisexual? Studies have shown about 8%.
While these numbers do not include adolescents or individuals who are not out, the
findings are nonetheless fascinating and show contrasts of the various studies that
have been conducted around the world with various categories discussed. The Pew
Research Center, HealthResearchFunding.org, and The Advocate are a few other

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What Does "Bisexual" Mean? (Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)

30/10/2016, 3)40 AM

places with interesting statistics and commentary about bisexuality.

Signs Youre Bisexual: Use The Klein Sexuality Grid


Bisexuality is an often misunderstood and misrepresented part of sexuality, and
one can be hard-pressed to find much of anything of any substance written about
the subject, most likely a byproduct of biphobia. As weve seen, often feared by the
heterosexual and snubbed by the homosexual, bisexual individuals tend to receive
little support or resources to assist them with understanding their sexual identity
and with helping to meet their needs.
So how do you make sense of your
bisexual feelings if youre questioning
your orientation? It is important for
one to understand that sexuality is
fluid and flexible. A persons sexual
behavior, feelings, and identification
are not fixed in nature and can change
in an ongoing, dynamic process.
Bisexuality is a perfect example of this
phenomenon.
American psychiatrist and sex researcher Fritz Klein
said in his book The Bisexual Option that
bisexuality is not disguised homosexuality or
heterosexuality.

According to Klein, there are three


different facets of bisexuality when
viewing it from this perspective.

Transitional bisexuality represents an avenue where an individual moves from one


spectrum of the sexual orientation continuum to the other extreme (usually from
heterosexuality to homosexuality). This transitory period of time is needed to help
the individual develop a more cohesive sexual identity in his or her development
with associated changes in emotions, values, and behaviors.
Second is historical bisexuality, which
is described as a person who
predominantly lives a straight or a gay
lifestyle, but who also has had a
previous history of bisexual
experiences and/or fantasies. Lastly,
sequential bisexuality involves a
person whose sexual relationships are
with only one gender at a given period
of time, and the frequency of gender
change varies according to person or
context.
As one can see, the range of bisexual

The Klein Sexual Grid has seven component


variables of sexual orientation, with three columns
that indicate three different points at which sexual
orientation is assessed: the persons past, present,
and ideal.

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What Does "Bisexual" Mean? (Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)

30/10/2016, 3)40 AM

preference and tendencies is very


broad-based and the bisexual individual can also have episodic, temporary,
experimental, or situational homo-or heterosexual activity. The Klein Sexual
Orientation Grid is a systematic model that showcases this reality by presenting
seven important variables that characterize orientation. One way to help you clarify
your orientation is to conduct a self-assessment using this grid.
The American Institute of Bisexuality has a page on its website where you can go
about the process of self-identification by completing the grid regarding your past,
present, and ideal among the various orientation variables to help you understand
what youve been questioning.
This tends to be one of the most reputable inventories available to assist with
sexual orientation identification. Talking to a counselor about your findings can
help extrapolate more meaning and clarity for you as you continue with your
identity-defining journey.
Another route you could take is trying
out some so-called bisexuality quizzes.
There are a variety of these online, but
I tend to not support them because
they are not empirically supported and
there is no known behavioral test that
exists to diagnose ones sexual
orientation. How you choose to
identify is your choice, all the while
knowing that sexual identity develops
over time and is not a fixed state,
though for some the process of
Numerous sites offer bisexuality quizzes, be we do
suggest being somewhat wary of these.

discovering their sexual identity may


take a lifetime.

For fun, however, you may want to take these quizzes as an opportunity to explore
any thoughts, feelings, or triggers that arise for you from taking the assessments,
and then speak to a trained professional to help you make sense of whats
emerged. Gurl.com, MyDailyMoment.com, and PinkNews.co.uk are a few sites that
contain such quizzes.

Stereotypes About Bisexuality


As you go about the process of clarifying your sexual proclivities, you will likely
encounter a number of stereotypes and myths that abound about bisexuality that
will try to block your progress and create unnecessary strife and confusion for you.
These fallacies are created by a lack of education and biphobia, the fear of
bisexuality.

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What Does "Bisexual" Mean? (Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)

30/10/2016, 3)40 AM

Becoming mindful of these ignorant thought traps and confronting and countering
them with truths can liberate you to move beyond these roadblocks and toward
your journey of self-realization. There are a plethora of myths about bisexuality.
GLAAD.org has an article that discusses a variety of these myths and their
associated facts that debunk them, including bisexuality is a phase, all women are
bisexual, and you cant be bisexual unless youve been with both genders.

2 Ways to Find Support


Having support is vital during this time and below are a couple of ways to find the
resources you need.

1. Join Bisexual Support Groups & Bisexual Resource Centers


A variety of resources have been springing up in recent years to honor and support
bisexuals. I highly recommend becoming involved or volunteering in these types of
groups and centers to surround yourself with others who can understand and
appreciate the journey youre on, to help normalize your experience, and to
broaden your social support network. You are not alone! Here are a few options to
consider:
The Bisexual Resource Center
The Bisexual Resource Center, identified as the oldest national bisexual
organization, advocates for bi awareness and visibility.
Daily Strength: Bisexual Support Group
This is an online forum/support group for the bisexual community to discuss
varied topics of interest and garner support and friendship.
LGBT Foundation
Here is a very valuable resource to have on hand! This is a national charity that
provides various services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender men and
women, including extensive information if youre questioning your sexual identity.
Additionally, volunteer at any local gay health center or search the term bisexual
on Meetup.com to find groups in your area that cater specifically to bisexual
individuals. The centers serve as places for recreation, dating, or advocacy efforts
and to meet other bisexual members of the community and their supporters.

2. Make Friends During Bisexual Awareness Day & Week


Bisexual Awareness Week occurs every September and includes Celebrate
Bisexuality Day. Both are sponsored by GLAAD and a variety of other bisexual
advocacy organizations.

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What Does "Bisexual" Mean? (Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)

30/10/2016, 3)40 AM

Bisexual Awareness Week is held every September and is a great way to meet welcoming people.

Always Remember That Youre Not a Label!


My client Nick ended up in a committed relationship with his new girlfriend, whom
he later learned was also bisexual. He discovered that he had the capability to be
sexually attracted and fall in love with either men or women, and that this is where
he validly falls on the sexuality continuum. He achieved a sense of pride and
acceptance in his identity and learned the importance of honoring all of his
attractions and finding outlets for expression of them that were within the
boundaries of his relationship agreements with his girlfriend.
In our society, I believe we get too hung up on labels and we have to classify things
in black or white, either/or binary categories. Am I gay? Am I bi? Notice how
these questions conjure up anxiety and confusion? According to Klein, our culture
takes comfort in labels because they help to define our relationships, and theyre a
way to minimize the threats of fear, uncertainty, and ambiguity when we face
something that we dont understand or steps outside of the norm.
Labels are limiting and put a cap on existing possibilities. They also strip us of our
uniqueness and individuality. Rather than getting hung up on terms and labels, live
and embrace your true and authentic self and love who you are intrinsically drawn
to.
Related Topics:

Sexual Orientation

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Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW, is The Gay Love Coach." To sign up
for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and
relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples, as well as to check
out current coaching groups, programs and teleclasses, please visit
http://www.datingadvice.com/gay/what-does-bisexual-mean

Page 6 of 7

What Does "Bisexual" Mean? (Statistics, Signs, Stereotypes & Support)

Brian Rzepczynski

30/10/2016, 3)40 AM

www.TheGayLoveCoach.com. Connect with him on Google+.

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