What does bisexual mean?
A person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to both men and women. For example: a woman that is attracted to other women and men or a man that is romantically interested in other men and women.
Special Note: Some people avoid the term "bisexual" because of its implications that there are only two sexes/genders to be sexually attracted to, which reinforces the binary gender system.
Some may prefer the following terms:
- Pansexual - identity term describing the capacity to love a person romantically irrespective of gender
- Queer - an umbrella identity term encompassing for identities across the sexual and gender spectrum
- Keep in mind that language develops and changes over time, so there may be other terms people prefer
What does it mean to be bisexual?
Bisexual people are people who love both men and women. They are sexually attracted to other women and men, and their sexual feelings toward women and men are normal and natural. Emotionally, they may feel similarly towards women and men.
No one can tell whether someone identifies as bisexual unless they want it known. Bisexuals blend right in with other people in all our communities, but they often feel different from other straight, lesbian, and gay people.
Identifying as bisexual is just one facet of a person – who they are attracted to. There are people that identify as bisexual in every culture, religion, socioeconomic class, race, ethnicity, profession, age, and all throughout history. Being bisexual doesn’t mean anything else!
How do I know if I’m bisexual?
You may not have language to describe your feelings, and that’s ok. Sexual identity develops over time. Some people have a sense or understanding early on about their attractions and some people develop it later in life.
During adolescence, most people begin to be aware of sexual feelings and to take an interest in dating. Everyone is different. As you mature, you will figure out who you’re attracted to. People with truly bisexual feelings find that, over time, their attraction to both girls and guys gets more and more clearly focused. You may find yourself falling in love with a classmate or developing a crush on both girls and boys. You may find these experiences pleasurable, troubling, or a mix of the two.
If you think you might identify as bisexual, here are some questions that may help you to figure it out:
- When I dream or fantasize about someone, is that person a boy, a girl or both?
- Who do I have crushes on or fall in love with?
- Do I feel excited to be around both boys and girls?
- Are my feelings clear?
If you don’t have answers to these questions, it’s alright. Time and life experience will help on your journey. Just remember, only you can say whether you identify as bisexual or not!
How can I accept my identity?
It’s not easy to discover that you identify as bisexual. Sadly, some people judge and are uncomfortable being around bisexuals. As a result, to be bisexual can still be dangerous. And unfortunately, some gay and lesbian people judge bisexuals and treat them unfairly because there is an assumption that bisexual people can fit into the straight world if they choose.
It makes sense that some bisexual youth might choose not to share their feelings. You might feel this way….you might even choose to keep your feelings from yourself. Maybe you avoid other youth that are out because it doesn’t feel safe to be associated with them.
“Being in the closet” (which means to not disclose your sexual orientation to others) can be a painful and lonely place, especially if you stay there in order to survive. It takes a lot of energy to deny or hide your feelings.
Self-acceptance is a journey; there isn’t anything that will make you feel great about being bisexual overnight, but here are a few helpful tips:
- Surround yourself with people that care about and love you.
- Be yourself. Identifying as bisexual is just one part of you; honor all your identities.
- Practice acceptance by supporting and accepting others.
- Remember that you are not alone!
The Alliance is committed to ensuring that all our youth are safe and healthy. If we can support you, let us know. We’ll be there.