Identifying as bisexual when in a monogamous relationship

Reuben’s response to: Why does someone need to proclaim they are bisexual when they are in a monogamous life long relationship?

People often ask me, since I’m in a monogamous relationship with a woman, does that make me straight now? How can I be bi? As though sexual practice is what defines us.

The circumstances of life in which I find myself at any point in time do not change who or what I am. Being in a long term monogamous relationship with a woman does not change the fact that I could easily fall in love with a man or a woman. It simply means that right now I am in love with a person, who happens to be a woman, and I am enjoying an exclusive relationship with that person.

Does a heterosexual person need to be in a relationship in order to know they are straight?

How does a long term celibate heterosexual know they are still straight?

The desire in their heart tells them, and they define themselves according to that desire by finding a label that fits.

Physical sexual acts are not the defining principals of who or what we are. Plenty of closeted gay men in marriages with women continue apparently normal heterosexual lives despite dying inside because they are actually gay. When they eventually come out, external observers ask questions like “oh, are you gay now? When did that happen?”

For me, people are not defined by their genitals. I am attracted to people based on factors like kindness, intelligence, sense of humour, warmth, confidence, courage, loyalty, grace, swagger, smell, determination, creativity, honesty and many others. These attractive qualities are equally found between men and women, and I could fall in love with a person based on them regardless of the person’s style of sexual apparatus.

That is why I am bisexual.

A more complex question (and more interesting) is “Why do you need to tell people you are bi at all?”

The answer is that I don’t. And I do. I certainly don’t need to tell anyone, since unless they are unzipping my pants it is none of their business. However if people ask me directly I will absolutely tell them, and then probably spend the next hour helping them understand a little about gender and orientation.

My partner had a hard time with this. In the beginning she just couldn’t understand why on earth I would need to tell anyone at all, and it can be a long conversation with someone who’s life experience is limited to the binary dichotomy. The short version is, why wouldn’t I? Just because people have a hard time stepping outside their box of boy-girl, gay-straight, 1 or 0, doesn’t mean I have to pretend to be something that fits into their language. I am not. And pretending that I am puts me firmly back into the closet self denial, which eventually leads to depression, physical health impacts and death.

To achieve true universal humanitarian acceptance in this world, the global community needs to be educated about the continuum of gender, and of sexual orientation, and how these two sliding scales work together to define our sexual identities.

The gay rights movement has done very good work shining light on sexual orientation, however gender remains mostly in the dark. This is why many young bisexuals run to the gay community for support, only to find they are just as discriminating as the straight community. A double kick in the guts. Typical statements such as “oh you’re not bi, you’re just not all the way gay yet” or “you’re just transitioning” indicate a lack of understanding of gender. Both communities see two polar orientations, and two polar genders.

Received 3 June 2013