"Sex is a continuum. You go through different phases along life’s way … and if you don’t, you’ve been sort of cheated."
The Brangelina Dilemma
It’s hard to get a handle on just how many women are bisexual. A study of American women 45 and under found that 2.8% thought of themselves as bisexual, although 11% of women had had a sexual experience with a member of the same sex during their lifetime. And it gets more complicated—two-thirds of women who had had a sexual experience with another woman considered themselves to be heterosexual.
So what makes a woman bisexual? How can you tell whether you’re bisexual? And if you are, what does that mean?
Being bisexual means that you are attracted to members of both sexes, even if you’re not sleeping with them. (Many people find this term limiting, because it doesn’t include people who are transgendered, intersexual, or otherwise don’t fit easily into one of two sexes—some people prefer to call themselves “queer” or one of many other terms, but “bisexual” is still the most commonly used term. )
Here are some things bisexuality doesn’t mean:
If you’re ready to explore your bisexuality, there are lots of resources available to help you get started. If you’re looking for ideas and support, check out a gay or feminist bookstore near you (or sites like BiMagazine and The Fence) for books, magazines, events and support groups. There are also great resources available from PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for people who are exploring their sexuality or coming out of the closet, and BiNet USA has a great timeline that shows the contributions of bisexuals in the gay rights movement.
If you’re looking to meet people, there’s always online dating. Sites like BiCupid.com are geared specifically toward bisexuals, while many mainstream dating sites have plenty of opportunities for bisexuals. (If you list yourself as a bisexual woman, however, be prepared to hear from many, many more men than women. And avoid eHarmony.com, which was recently sued over its refusal to include gay, lesbian and bi customers on its site.) You can also try the bar scene. Lesbian bars vary, and you may find yourself feeling more welcome as a bisexual in some places than in others. The best thing you can do to get past this is to treat the women you encounter with respect, and treat all of your relationships as equally valid. Most lesbian communities are small and close-knit, and word travels fast. If you’re friendly and you can relax and be yourself, you’ll be making friends and getting dates before you know it.
As a bisexual in the dating world, you’ll need to be extra careful to practice safer sex. Consider keeping a sex kit in your bag—there’s nothing hotter than a lady who knows how to take care of herself and her partner, and you’ll score points if you’re the thoughtful one who brings along a tasty vanilla-flavored dental dam. A pair of latex rubber gloves (available at any grocery store) will provide protection for vaginal or anal play—pair them with lube to make sure things go smoothly. Water-based lubes like Liquid Silk will provide natural-feeling wetness without damaging the latex—very important, especially for anal play. Condoms, of course, should also be in your kit: the Durex Pleasure Pack includes a variety of sensations to try. Finally, consider your container. Latex can be damaged by friction, so dropping a dental dam into your purse or tucking a condom into your pocket can do more harm than good. A Just In Case hard-sided container will keep your latex pristine (and discreet—you don’t want a dental dam falling out of your purse while you’re reaching for your wallet!). Finally, if you’re using a dildo, vibrator or other toys, be careful to clean them thoroughly, since bodily fluids can carry all sorts of unpleasant viruses. It’s always safest to keep your toys separate—one dildo per person, please.
It’s not always easy being bisexual. Sometimes it can feel like you’re between two worlds but not a part of either. And with states banning marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, it can feel like the whole world is against bisexuals. The good news, though, is that you’re not alone. The number of bisexuals grows every year, as more and more people learn about their sexuality and decide to come out of the closet and show the world who they really are. Learn, play, explore, stay safe, and fight for your rights—you don’t have to choose between someone else’s labels. There’s a whole world between gay and straight!