"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
So you’re watching a blazing hot sex scene between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie—and you can’t decide which one turns you on more. You have a boyfriend, but you just can’t stop fantasizing about your female roomie’s bangin’ curves. Are you bisexual? If you’ve ever wondered, read on.
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:
1. You’re just confused.
Lots of people assume that bisexuals are “just experimenting” or just don’t know what they want—and that they’ll figure it out eventually. In fact, bisexuals are clear about what they want—women and men! Some bisexuals settle with one person in a monogamous relationship; others prefer to have different relationships throughout their lives. Because bisexuality is not always treated as a “real” choice, it can be confusing for many people, and it may take a while to discover your sexuality. There is no one way to be bisexual—but you can try lots of different ways while still being secure in your bisexuality. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about what you want, so that you can then be honest with your partners (and any potential partners) about who you are.
2. You’re a lesbian who’s afraid to come out, or you’re “not really gay”.
Many people in the lesbian community are unfriendly toward or frustrated with bisexuals. They feel that bisexuals are unable to “let go” of heterosexuality, or that they use their bisexuality to avoid the homophobia and difficulty of coming out as lesbians. They also worry that bisexual partners will be unwilling to commit to a relationship with someone of the same sex. As a result, bisexuals are often treated as unwelcome or “not really gay.” In truth, bisexuals also face homophobia, and are often fierce fighters for gay rights. And again—being honest and open with everyone you meet will go a long way toward giving you (and other bisexual women) credibility.
3. You want a threesome.
Because “bisexuals” are so common in porn, lots of men hear a woman say “I’m bisexual” and assume that anything she does with a woman is really about performing for men—or that she’s automatically interested in a threesome. (With him, naturally.) They also may assume that a bisexual woman is “slutty” or willing to sleep with anyone. The truth is that our sexuality as bisexuals is about ourselves and the people we sleep with—it’s not for someone else’s benefit (unless we decide that we want it to be). Do some bisexuals enjoy threesomes? You bet—but we’ll let you know if we’re interested.
If you’re interested in having sex with both men and women, chances are you’re bisexual. It’s normal if your attraction isn’t always perfectly balanced—many bisexuals swing more toward one gender or the other over the course of a lifetime, a year or an evening. The sex researcher Alfred Kinsey invented the Kinsey Scale in 1948 as a way of understanding sexuality as a continuum, with strict heterosexuality on one side, strict homosexuality on the other side, and plenty of room in the middle for everyone and everything in between.
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!