Bisexual People: 3 Things Not To Say to Them
Dispelling stereotypes about bisexuals.
Sexuality 17th Apr, 2021
Many people in the bisexual community face common stereotypes. Whether you are male or female, there are 3 stories that are frequently told by both heterosexual (straight) people and those within the LGBTQIA+* community. The more often these stereotypes are challenged the better, as this allows bisexuality and by extension, any sexuality to continue to be normalised, not stigmatised.
Bisexual People Should Pick A Side:
People who are bisexual may, unfortunately, repeatedly get asked the question ‘Why can’t you choose which sex you prefer, just pick male or female’. This could be asked in a manner meant to be friendly banter, you may have even joked about it yourself, however, just as a gay person, lesbian, asexual, or any other sexuality is born that way, so are bisexual people. This question can also escalate into a bi person being told ‘you are greedy for not picking a side’, at that point this is more obvious bullying. If you are present when this question is asked, or it is directed at you, challenge it.
Clearly there is a delicate balance to be struck here, the idea is to raise awareness. You do not want to upset friends, or escalate a situation with a stranger, by putting them on the defensive. If possible, gently state you believe bisexuals are born that way, just like every other sexuality. Try not to engage with any questions that follow, as they are likely to be a reaction to what you have said, not a considered response. Turn the conversation, or walk away if you can. If necessary, you can return to the subject later, when the other person has had time to think.
When people who are known as either heterosexual, or gay/lesbian, come out as bisexual, there can be various issues. One of the most common is being challenged to kiss someone of the same, or opposite sex (whichever had not been known about before), in public to prove it. This is framed. It is bullying, and should not be tolerated. When this kind of behaviour is justified as a joke, or a bit of banter, it is at its most dangerous and damaging. You can deal with this situation by not finding it funny. When the person who has made the challenge does not get a laugh and is met with silence, they are less likely to do it again.
This behaviour can come from fear of the unknown. Discuss bisexuality with them on a one-to-one basis and, if possible, introduce the topic that bi people are no threat to masculinity, or femininity and do not make finding a date any more difficult. When this is presented as a ridiculous idea and you are inviting people to laugh with you, clearly not laughing at anyone, it may make a difference to a person’s viewpoint. This is a difficult balance to strike and it is wise to avoid trying when drunk.
The third common issue faced by bisexual people, is being bullied for being bi, particularly at the moment of coming out, by friends who would celebrate if they were gay/lesbian/other. This may be down to fear and a lack of understanding. It may even horrify that person if they realised their behaviour is bullying. When you encounter this response, see if you can address it indirectly, by celebrating bisexuality in the same way that any other sexuality is.
Congratulate the person for speaking out and thank them for trusting you enough to share this information. If you are the person coming out as bi, share that you are grateful you can trust this group of people to understand. This can be all it takes to get someone to question, or change, their actions.
People who are bisexual have battles and face challenges from both within and outside the LGBTQIA+ community, as do many others. The most important thing you can do to help is celebrate bisexuality. Talk about it in the same terms as any other sexuality. When you demystify a subject people lose their fear of it and are less likely to attack, either verbally, or physically.
When bisexuality is normalised and spoken about casually, it ceases to be perceived as a threat and becomes an everyday subject. This, in time, can expose stereotypes for what they are, which helps the whole community make a positive change.
*Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual and/or Ally
You can get more information about sexuality here.