by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

I'm not bisexual, but the logic of this statement seems faulty:

"This suggests that bisexuality is often either a hedge for gay people or a label adopted by straights to appear more sexually adventurous to their (straight) matches. "

What the chart suggests is that a bisexual person often is searching for a relationship with one particular sex. That is all. It does not say that the person is not attracted to the another sex. This is a subtlety that I think is often missed, but that I have heard expressed with some frustration. Being bisexual does not mean that you don't have a preference at a given time. I think you should make this point, since you are posting a dubious assumption. Let us assume that a bisexual person has a particular preference at the time they use this message board. I would expect their messages to reflect this.

A bisexual OkCupid user provides a more detailed answer:

I just read the post with the chart about bisexuals on OkCupid messaging only one gender.  As a bisexual, and one who uses that site on and off, I thought I would share my experience.

I believe human relationships can go in many different ways, and sexuality can be more complex than we wish.  I'm not anti-label, but I feel labels should be descriptive, not prescriptive, and we should recognize one label can mean a great many things.

When I am asked about my orientation, I simply say 'bisexual.'  It rings true to me.  Having said that, I am more attracted to masculinity, so I usually end up talking much more often to men on OkCupid, but there is the occasional masculine woman.  I have bisexual friends who say their attractions across genders are evenly split, and other who are like myself, where there is a preference, but we acknowledge there are exceptions, whether we've dated people outside our preference or not.  I know some other bisexuals who may be romantically inclined to one gender, and more sexually inclined to another.   For example, when I first started the process of coming out, a friend confided in me she was bisexual as well.  She never dated another woman before, but it was such a big part of who she was, she felt the need to come out to her parents about it.  She's happily married to a man.

I'll also note that as a female to male transsexual who is open to the world about my past, I've noticed people tend to feel more comfortable telling me things about their sexuality they may be more hesitant to say otherwise, for whatever reason.  I'm guessing it's because being a transsexual is such a personal thing to be open about, it helps people open up some: my gender identity stands out a lot more than my sexual orientation, as I'm usually perceived to be straight, as in an attraction to women.  It's amazing how many people have come up to me and confided in their bisexuality.  These people have been seen in society as nelly gay men, happily married straight women, nerdy straight guys, even some family of mine.   I ultimately don't care what my partners identify as, but I usually feel more comfortable dating other bisexuals because bisexuals tend to face a lot more misconceptions in society, and there's a lot less to explain to another bisexual.  There's an attitude out in the world that says to 'pick a side,' so I feel a lot of people who are bisexual don't usually show it.  I've heard a old bad joke which I feel is still a common attitude: 'If you're bi, you're by yourself."  In the end, regardless if we have a strong preference or not, I think people who identify as bisexual want to acknowledge that in the end, gender isn't as big of a deal in our partners.

Your mileage may vary, of course.  These are my own thoughts on the topic, and though I do identify as bisexual, I believe there's so much diversity in that label, another bisexual's experience may be totally different from mine.

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