This post originally ran in my now-defunct Montreal Gazette blog, was reposted in my blog at jillianpage.com, and now here, with some modifications.
One of the biggest misconceptions — besides the most recent “it’s a phase” line of thought — about bisexual people is that we are all polyamorous, that we have open lifestyles that see us engaging in multiple sexual relationships. Note the word “open” in that sentence. People who engage in polyamory, in theory, have the full consent of relationship partners, as opposed to people who have “affairs,” in which they don’t have the consent of relationship partners and are basically cheating on them.
And there are some who think being bisexual is all about having sex, sex, sex and more sex with multiple partners. It’s not, of course. Being bisexual doesn’t mean we are all “swingers.”
The fact of the matter is, bisexual people are mostly monogamous. We have the capacity to love men, women and gender-variant people — as in, love transcends gender — but when they fall in love with someone and settle down, they do the traditional mating thing and are faithful to each other and yadda yadda yadda . . .
Note that I started the last sentence with the personal collective pronoun “We” and switched in the middle to “they.” It wasn’t a grammatical mistake. I am a polyamorist at heart, as well as a bisexual. But just because I embrace polyamory in my heart doesn’t mean I actually practice it: I don’t, because I have never had a significant other (SO) who accepts it. Every SO I have had in life would have dumped me if I actually engaged in a polyamorous lifestyle.
Sigh . . .
Bisexual people face a fair bit of discrimination, known as biphobia, from not only some heterosexual people, but from some gay and lesbian people, as well. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, many gay and lesbian people believe you must be either heterosexual or homosexual. There has even been talk of removing the “B” from LGBT. It wouldn’t surprise me if this sort of biphobia is rooted in monogamy and the incorrect belief that bisexual people are compulsive swingers.
Sooo, now I’m wondering about the discrimination faced by polyamorists, or would-be polyamorists. Suddenly, instead of seeing sexual orientation as heterosexual or lesbian or gay or bisexual, I am seeing a bigger picture with monogamy vs. polyamory, and I am getting the sense that polyamorists may face more discrimination than all of the others combined. Sure, polyamorists can be heterosexual or lesbian or gay or bisexual and face discrimination for those orientations, but then we face even more discrimination from HLGB people because we are polyamorous . . .
As for the “it’s a phase” argument some people are trumpeting these days as the “reason” for bisexuality, well, it may apply in some cases. But I’ve been attracted to both sexes for as long as I can remember, i.e. my childhood. It has been a lifetime phase . . . so far.
But then, life itself is a phase, yes? (But I digress.)
— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey