As a sexuality enthusiast, “how do I know if I’m bisexual” continues to be the most popular question that I receive. In a society that loves to label any and everything, sexual identity classifications often become problematic and confusing for people who desire more than one gender. According to the dictionary, bisexuality has two definitions: possessing characters of both sexes (i.e. hermaphroditic) and of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward both sexes. The latter definition is the most popular connotation of bisexuality, but perhaps it’d be more productive to discuss sexuality as a fluid attraction.
In my experience, the majority of “heterosexual” women that I’ve come across in my work and friendships experience what’s most popularly known as bi-curiosity. While they’re strongly attracted to men and seek heterosexual relationships, if approached, they would experiment with a woman. At times, sexual attraction can be circumstantial, thus explaining the reverse “coming out” of WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes from lesbian to straight. While most would classify Swoopes as bisexual, she explicitly stated that she does not identify with bisexuality.
In discussing her recent engagement to a man, she stated, “I’m not bisexual…I don’t think I was born [gay]. Again, it was a choice. As I got older, once I got divorced, it wasn’t like I was looking for another relationship, man or woman. I just got feelings for another woman. I didn’t understand it at the time because I had never had those feelings before.”
Of course, there are plenty of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people that have felt their sexual identity their entire lives. Just as straight people can attest to feeling heterosexual attraction from an early age. But what about those who have experienced sexual attraction as a fluid experience? Perhaps, the popular Alfred Kinsey scale better serves conclusions on sexual identity.
According to Kinsey, sexuality spans a eight-category rating:
0 – Exclusively heterosexual
1 – Predominately heterosexual
2 – Predominately heterosexual but more than incidentally homosexual
3 – Bisexual
4 – Predominately homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 – Predominately homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 – Exclusively homosexual
X – Asexual, Non-sexual
While the Kinsey scale cannot explain every experience of sexual identity, it certainly provides a more realistic approach to human sexual attraction. Taking away the stigma of same-gender attractions, it’s likely that more people would identify with experiencing a fluid form of desire at some point in life. Not every individual’s sexuality is stagnant and unchanging.
Whether looking at pop culture examples of female-male-female threesomes or people seriously dating more than one gender, there’s no such thing as an identical experience of bisexuality or sexual fluidity. As sexual identity should be left to the individual to claim, there is no “legitimate” gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight behavior. Every experience is relative.
How do you feel about labels and sexuality? Should sexuality be discussed as a more fluid experience? Or do classifications keep social “order?” Speak on it!