This article was published on April 28th, 2020
Most gays find bisexuals suspicious. “Why can’t they just make up their minds,” they ask. The issue, though, might not be that black and white (obviously). It’s a whole rainbow of colors.
That rainbow – the Kinsey Scale.
What is the Kinsey Scale?
Kinsey…kinky? Not quite, get your mind out of the gutter already.
The Kinsey scale is an old and still widely used scale to describe sexual orientation. It’s also known as the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale.
It was developed by a group of researchers, led by the renowned sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, with Wardell Pomeroy and Clyde Martin. The research was based on interviews with thousands of participants about their sexual histories and behaviors. The report, along with the scale, was first published in Kinsey’s book, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” in 1948.
While outdated, coming out in the 1950s, the Kinsey Scale was groundbreaking as the first model to suggest that sexuality falls on a continuum. People can either describe themselves as gay or heterosexual. That sexual orientation can change over time.
Sexual attraction, therefore, falls somewhere in the middle.
The bisexual paradox
Bisexuality is considered controversial. That’s despite research and studies that show it’s neither a phase nor just experimentation.
In one of Kinsey’s studies, for example, 4% of women and 10% of men admitted to sex with both men and women. And that was in the 1950s when other sexual orientations, apart from homosexuality, were considered taboo.
True, some bisexuality may be due to youthful experimentation, but that doesn’t account for the broad swathe of folks that identify as bisexual even in adulthood.
Some of the other theories that explain bisexuality include confinement to single-gender institutions (such as prisons), or to gays who want to avoid stigma if they come out as gay.
According to some studies, 15% of straight men insist that bisexuals don’t exist. And while gays and lesbians were less prejudiced, 80% of lesbians believed that bisexuality is a phase in the process of coming out.
Breaking down the myths
Why are homosexuals, and even heterosexuals so suspicious of bisexuals?
It comes down to four mainly cited reasons. More people believe that bisexuals are:
- Unfaithful to lovers
- Unable to commit to long term relationships
- Likely to infect lovers with a sexually transmitted infection
The reality? Less nuanced and a far cry from the myths. Using the Kinsey scale, it’s evident that bisexualism is real and alive in our community. Let’s break down two of the greatest myths associated with bisexuals:
Myth #1: Bisexuals are promiscuous
Reality: If the world is your oyster (in that you can have sexual relations with both men and women), then why restrict yourself? So you’d think. The reality, however, is in stark contrast.
Only a minority of bisexuals maintain simultaneous relations with both genders. Most tend to switch back and forth. Suspicious from hetero’s and queers alike also reduces their contact.
Furthermore, while the research is scant, one study on bisexual men found a lifetime average of 23 male sex partners and 23 female. That’s a far cry from the sometimes staggering number among many gay men.
Myth #2: Likely to infect lovers with a sexually transmitted infection
Reality: Studies, while scant, don’t seem to indicate a higher likelihood among bisexuals to transmit STI’s. If anything, the suspicion drives bi’s to safer sexual practices compared to homosexuals and heteros. When you’re already a suspect, it makes better sense to walk the narrow path.
The Bottom line
Bisexuals aren’t more likely to dump their partners or bail from relationships. If anything, that title usually goes to gays. (Vanity is real folks).
Biphobia is alive and spreading. While homophobia has become culturally unacceptable over time, bisexuals don’t have the same luxury.
Being bisexual isn’t easy. Most bisexuals describe it as coming out twice. If you’re out of the closet, you understand the struggle. Bisexuals have to fist come out as either gay or lesbian. The later admit attraction to the opposite sex. The process is far longer.
And while most gays and lesbians know in their teens or early 20s that they are homosexual, most people don’t realize they are bi until their late 20’s.
Bisexuality is a sexual orientation on its right. It’s also socially isolating, especially when you come out as bi, compared to gays. Despite your reservations, cut bisexuals some slack. They have it difficult as it is.
Ole Kinsey of the Kinsey Scale fame would be proud.