Errors in thinking can diminish a whole identity
When you identify as Bisexual, you have to come out over and over again. If you’re dating a same-sex partner, you’re automatically gay, and if you’re dating an opposite-sex partner, you’re automatically straight. If you’re dating someone who doesn’t fit into the binary of gender, others are perplexed. The way other people perceive you diminish your identity.
There are many struggles of Bisexual identity that don’t relate to coming out. Dichotomous thinking, otherwise known as all-or-nothing thinking or black-and-white thinking, is when you can’t see the in-between. Many individuals who struggle with dichotomous thinking patterns can’t understand Bisexuality, and some don’t believe it exists.
Bisexuality has had ever-changing definitions over time. Prominent Bisexual Activist Robyn Ochs defines it like this:
“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge in myself the potential to be attracted, romantically or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
If you follow the patterns of Dichotomous thinking, you’re either gay or straight, and there is no middle. If you identify as Bisexual, this is extremely frustrating.
Here are some concrete examples of Dichotomous Thinking:
Everything is excellent or terrible
He ALWAYS does that.
She NEVER listens.
You either succeed or fail.
You either make the right decisions or the wrong decisions.
He’s either for that or against that.
Nothing is on a continuum, and everything is concrete.
Bisexual individuals are prone to Mental Health disparities, and many of them don’t disclose their identity due to minority stress and stigma of being out. See Human Rights Campaign: Health Disparities Among Bisexual People.
There are many ways to be an ally to Bisexual individuals. First, talk to Bisexual individuals about their identity. Don’t assume what someone identifies as based on their relationship. Don’t assume that Bisexual individuals are greedy. Don’t diminish someone’s identity. Don’t give in to preconceived stereotypes about Bisexual individuals.
In my experience, I have had to have many conversations about my identity with others. At times, I’ve had to educate, and at times I’ve been stereotyped to the point where it was painful.
It’s hurtful for someone to dismiss you for how you love others. It blows my mind that someone could miss out on the amazing person I am because I am capable of being attracted to all people.
Here are a few examples:
A girl that I was interested in dating in the past: “I wouldn’t ever date someone who is Bisexual because they aren’t REALLY into women.”
Friend: “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you were dating a guy because I forgot you were Bi.”
Guy: “Oh, you’re into girls, too; can I watch?”
Friend 2: “I don’t believe bisexuality is a real thing. I would never date someone who is Bi.”
Random Person on the Internet Forum: “I just couldn’t don’t think I could date anyone who is Bi because I just don’t understand it.”
I used to react to these comments and statements because they bring up a flood of anger in me. Do I agree with these comments? No, of course, I don’t, but I also know that it’s out of my control whether someone respects a part of my identity or not.
I don’t have to let these people into my life. I don’t have to save space for disrespect.
I am in a relationship with an opposite-sex partner right now. I am monogamous because that’s the only way I can be happy and healthy in a relationship. None of this changes the fact that I’m Bisexual.
Bisexual people do exist. Dichotomous thinking erases. If you want to be a strong ally to Bisexual individuals, you must see all the colors the rainbow has to offer; the reds, the oranges, the yellows, the blues, the greens, the purples, the pinks, the browns, and the grays; not just black and white.