Bisexual people deserve respect and validation

Getty Images photo by FG Trade.

Getty Images

Getty Images photo by FG Trade.

Rayanne Painter

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I’m attracted to people regardless of their gender. But no, I don’t want to be in your threesome and I’m certainly not confused about my sexuality.

While being heterosexual is the all-time “norm” when it comes to sexual orientations, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other social expectations laid out within the LGBTQ+ community. We’re in a day and age where being gay or lesbian is becoming more accepted (although there is still a long way to go), whether that be through representation in pop culture or in positions of power, but that’s really where this conversation stops, with gay and lesbian sexualities.

40 percent of the LGBTQ+ community reported being bisexual, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013. That’s close to half of the entire community, yet how many openly bisexual people do we know about in real life or within society? Statistically, the lack of openly bisexual people adds up. Only 28 percent of bisexual people are out, while roughly 70 percent of lesbian and gay people are out, as reported by the same Pew Research Center study.

To be frank about it, sexualities that lie under this bisexual umbrella are still rarely validated in society as a whole and, sometimes, even in the LGBTQ+ community itself. As a person who began coming out to my inner circle of friends as bisexual around 2014, I have first-hand experience with not being believed as inherently bisexual. There was always talk about how I was confused about whether I was straight or lesbian and that, one day, I was going to “choose” one or the other.

These negative connotations that came along with my bisexuality weren’t exclusive to my straight friends and colleagues either. I’ve had women who identify as lesbian not want to date me solely over the reason that they were afraid I would “turn back straight,” or end up cheating on them with the opposite gender. And I can’t say that those presumptions were really their fault. That’s what the majority of society thought about us and, to a certain extent, many of those stigmas exist today.

But here I am, in my 20’s and in college, still identifying under this bisexual umbrella. For the most part, nowadays I identify as queer rather than bisexual, but nothing about my sexuality has changed since I initially came out. I still have the ability to be attracted to, and love, more than one gender. It took a while to realize this, but I am real. Bisexual, pansexual and queer identities are all real.

Whether or not society realizes this, in 2018 we are still invalidated, then portrayed as sexual deviants. Bisexuality does not mean that we automatically want to partake in a threesome or orgy. The majority of us aren’t attracted to every person that walks by and will not cheat solely because we prefer more genders.

Of course, that’s not to speak for every bisexual or queer person. We are all unique individuals and, while our sexualities are similar, every one of us navigates our sexual preferences and other aspects of life differently.

All of this comes down to one simple aspect: respect. I don’t expect everybody to understand the individual components of what makes bisexual people uniquely themselves, but I do expect solidarity and respect. We are all human, after all.

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.

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