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So, someone you love has come out as bisexual.
But now what? How do you react? What do you say? What does this meeeean?
Never fear, your friendly SuperBi is ready to help out!
First things first.
What is bisexuality?
Bisexuality is a sexual identity where a person is attracted to multiple genders. They aren't necessarily attracted to all genders.
Wait, all genders?
Yep, there's more than two. But that's for another article. Let's focus on the bisexuality for now.
I don't understand. Why can't they just choose?
It's not really about that. It's about being truthful and honest about who they are and how they experience the world. They can't choose who they find attractive any more than you can.
OK. I get it. What do I do about it?
What does your loved one want you to do? Chances are they told you because you're important to them, and they want to be authentic with and around you. Offer support, love, and understanding.
Or, maybe they're just like me and are out to everyone they think is safe as an attempt to normalise bisexuality! In which case... respond with acceptance and understanding!
One thing you absolutely should not do is bombard them with questions. Coming out can be very stressful and frightening, and they might not be in an emotional place to handle your thoughts. Instead, visit a website for loved ones of LGBTQA people and do some research.
You mentioned questions.
I sure did. Shoot.
Um—are they going to be having threesomes and orgies all over the place now?
Woah, woah, WOAH. OK, back it up a bit. Maybe they will and maybe they won't, but either way the actual specifics of who they have sex with and how aren't really any of your business. Would you like it if they asked you how many times you masturbated a week? Nope? Then don't ask them this.
For the record, just like straight and gay people, some bisexuals enjoy sex with a lot of people or in groups and some don't. Some like casual sex, some prefer to be in a committed relationship. Some have never had sex, some have been very sexually active. And in all cases, these choices are personal, and not related to their bisexuality.
What's the difference between bisexual and pansexual?
Well, that really seems to be down to personal interpretation. Plenty of people call themselves both. In general though, the most common difference is that pan people are attracted equally to all genders and bi people aren't necessarily.
Is bisexual transphobic?
Nope! Some people have claimed it is, but they're basing that on rather wobbly logic based on the "bi" bit, or on assuming bisexual people aren't attracted to trans people. Which is a little silly, honestly.
"Bi means two"?
Words change meanings all the time, but if you are REALLY dedicated to the idea that the use of "bi" outweighs the real feelings and experiences of real people, I can't help you.
Why do we even need all these labels anyway? People are people.
Hmm, perhaps. But while labels applied against your will can limit and trap you, labels taken on from your own choice empower and strengthen you. Also, saying "I am this thing" allows you to access a whole community, rather than feeling alone and sick and broken and wrong.
The labels someone else chooses aren't really about you or your feelings. Let them name what they are, in freedom and joy.
How do I support my bisexual loved one?
There's a few small everyday changes you can make to support them actually as well as just playing lip service to the idea.
- Don't assume heterosexuality as the "default" sexuality.
- Refer to bi people in the same breath as gay people, straight people, etc.
- Challenge people when you see them spout biphobic sentiments like "bi people are greedy" or "bisexuality doesn't exist."
But I kinda think those are true...
Then you're a jerk. Stop being that.
I messed up! I said something and now my bisexual loved one is hurt and mad at me!
OK, don't panic. First things first, apologise. Try to understand how it was from their perspective, and finally use this as a learning experience. We all have bigoted and unpleasant ideas we've never had challenged, and now one of yours in out in the light. BURN IT WITH FIRE.
I hope this helped! It's pretty 101 level stuff, but I hope to write more articles like this in future.