I Date Men & Women But Please Don’t Call Me Bisexual

If I’m dating a man, the assumption is that I’m heterosexual; if I’m dating a woman it’s that I’m a lesbian. If I let slip that I date both men and women, it’s assumed that I’m bisexual. I have nothing against bisexuals other than the fact that I don’t identify as one and when I did, I didn’t receive much positive feedback. Let me explain.

  1. Being bisexual isn’t synonymous with being “confused.” I find that when I use the word bisexual to describe my sexuality, I receive an array of questions and concerns about my orientation. More often than not, the other person accuses me of being confused. I’ve even had dates say things like, “Oh, I always get stuck with the bisexuals.” Or even worse, they tell me that they “don’t date bisexuals.” Both statements make allusions to the idea that bisexuality is an exploratory phase, a stop on the way to either full-on straightness or gayness rather than an identity in and of itself.
  2. I don’t care about gender. Whether or not someone identifies as female or male doesn’t matter to me. It never has and it never will. This is the main reason why identifying as bisexual feels false. It’s simply not true because I’m not only drawn to males or females. I’m also drawn to gender ambiguous people, gender-non conforming people, and trans folks. Bisexuality is defined as an attraction to both men and women—two binaries. Because I’m into men, women, trans men, trans women, and gender non-conformists, I’m technically not bisexual.
  3. My sexuality doesn’t define me. Sure, I date queers, study feminist and queer history, and am an avid reader of queer literature. This does not mean I am my sexual orientation. When friends or dates learn about my sexuality, they assume that I’m some sex freak who can’t keep her hands off anyone that is able to walk and has a pulse.
  4. I hate the stigma around bisexuality. I find that there’s too much negativity associated with bisexuality. Bisexuals aren’t believed to actually be bisexual. When I’ve used this term to describe my orientation, my straight dates tend to think I’m either joking or don’t take me seriously. They discard my experiences with women as invalid. “You’re with me now. That must mean you’re straight, right?” Wrong! It does not and will not mean I am straight. Not ever. Sometimes I can’t even get a date with a lesbian or queer woman if I tell her that I’m bisexual. It’s like a red flag and she automatically assumes I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend, have sworn off men for the interim, and am on the prowl.
  5. People actually used to ask me if I liked men or women more. The answer is always that I like them equally. I’m always baffled by this question. I’m not even sure what they really mean by it! Why should I have to quantify who I like and how much? What business is it of anyone else’s, and why do I even have to have a preference?
  6. They automatically assumed I wanted a threesome. When you tell someone you’re bisexual, they automatically assume you’re super kinky and are only telling them this because you’re interested in a threesome. I think they think I spend my nights riding some guy on a swing in my apartment in my free time and inviting my lesbian lover over to join in on the fun. I mean, what the actual hell?
  7. I used to identify as a lesbian. I came out as a lesbian during college and dated only women for about five or six years. At the time, I wholeheartedly believed I was a lesbian. Most of my friends were gay, I’d go out to lesbian bars on nights and weekends, and I was president of the freakin’ LGBT alliance for crying out loud. After college ended, I started hanging out with a couple of my guy friends, and one day I ran into my friend’s hunky older brother. I realized I couldn’t identify as a lesbian anymore. I tried out bisexuality but that didn’t stick either for the reasons I mentioned above.
  8. My identity of choice is queer. Queer feels like an all-encompassing word to me and one I am much more comfortable using because I don’t only date men or women but people in a variety of gender expressions, queer feels like the most honest term for me. While I’m being honest, I would be happy if I could abolish all labels in general. Because most people I meet like to categorize (I think it helps them understand different types of sexual identity), I use queer.
  9. Being queer is not a choice. Just like being gay or straight is not a choice one makes, being queer and attracted to a variety of genders has never been a choice for me. It’s the way I was born. I’ve always been this way. It has taken me time to understand and accept that, but now that I have, I’ve happily abolished the need to describe myself as bisexual and ask that you don’t either.
Rachel Galperin is a Writer, Producer and Performer. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications and has worked in Production, Casting and Development for a variety of TV series and networks including National Geographic's Brain Games, The Real Housewives of the Potomac, HGTV's Dear Genevieve, The Cooking Channel's My Grandmother's Ravioli, and others. Her writing has appeared in The Ground Magazine and Yogi Approved. She lives in New York City.