Written by Amy Andre and originally published on huffingtonpost.com
I was very honored and excited to get an email Wednesday morning inviting me to speak on a panel on HuffPost Live, for a segment about bisexuality and biphobia. The event took place Wednesday afternoon. My fellow panelists are all bisexual (except for possibly one gentleman, who, if not bi himself, is definitely an ally to our community). Our moderator? Well, I don’t know how he identifies, but he did play “devil’s advocate” during the panel, bringing up the fact that a co-worker of his, a gay man, told him that he thinks bisexuality doesn’t exist.
This was later amended to something along the lines of “bisexuality exists, but only as a phase.” Here’s the thing about the phase myth: For many gays and lesbians, heterosexuality was a phase. Does that mean heterosexuality is always a phase, that people who say they’re heterosexual are lying, or clueless about the contents of their own hearts? No, of course not. And no one goes around saying that about heterosexuality. But they do say it about bisexuality. And I think the reason most of them who say that say it is not because they actually think it but because it’s a convenient way to express biphobia.
But let’s get back to the “bisexuals don’t exist” thing, which is a line of B.S. that every bisexual I’ve ever met has heard at least once, if not dozens of times. Whenever I hear that crap, I throw out stats like this: Studies show that 50 percent of people who identify as gay, lesbian or bi identify as bi. Therefore, in the U.S. alone, there are millions of bisexuals, which means we exist. Or I point to the fact that I’m bisexual, and, as I mentioned on HuffPost Live, I’m not a hologram. I exist, which means we exist.
But what I didn’t say on HuffPost Live, and what I should have said, and what I wished had said, was this:
Why wouldn’t we exist?
Here’s the sad truth about biphobia: Biphobia is sad. It’s sad to think that there are people out there who don’t believe that love is possible unless it is in these very narrow confines related to gender. It’s sad that these people are walking around with such a dim view of the potential of the human heart. It’s sad that they would rather convince themselves that others are lying than admit that there may be ways to love other than the way they love. It’s sad that they would be so devoted to the primacy of gender as a determining factor of love, of all things, that they would deny the existence of the identity of millions of people.
Of course, there is an arrogance to this kind of biphobia, and it’s infuriating. I am more than happy to pathologize biphobes. I think biphobia should be in the DSM, because I think it is a mental illness. Homophobia is, too, of course. But here’s how they’re different: Homophobia typically says, “The way you love is not equal to the way I love,” but biphobia says, “You don’t love. I don’t/can’t/won’t believe in the possibility of the way you love.”
Now let’s say for the sake of argument that someone says that bisexuals don’t exist not because bisexuality is not possible (after all, many things are possible, and many people acknowledge that) but because they’ve never met one? Well, there are many types of people in the world whom I’ve never met. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
And remember the stats about bisexuals accounting for half of the LGB pie? That means that many bisexuals exist, obviously, but that we’ve all met bisexuals — just as we’ve all met gays and lesbians — even if we didn’t know that’s who we were meeting at the time. I don’t know too many bisexuals (or gays, or lesbians, or even heterosexuals) who walk around with their identity written on their sleeves.
(Note to self: Cool T-shirt idea!)
What I’m saying is that it’s possible that not all biphobes are sad, sad, people, but it’s not improbable that they are. And that sadness — mixed with arrogance and illness though it seems to be — appears to come from a confusion about the nature of the human heart. I hope they find love in their hearts to understand that just as the heart has more than one chamber, there is more than one way to love: within gendered parameters, and outside of them.
In the meantime, my bisexual and bi ally readers, let’s spend this Pride season celebrating our capacities and proclivities! And on this week, a week so full of LGB pride, thanks to the Supremes, let’s remember the words of those other Supremes, when they sang, “I don’t care what they say. I won’t stay in a world without love.”