This was all over the headlines last week as a new book and study are about to be released about bisexuality. Excuse my cynical – even snarky – tone here, but this seems like a long overdue realization on the part of the scientific community, the media and, well, anyone who thinks about this stuff for more than five minutes.
As someone who has been an ally to the bisexual community and an activist fighting for fair and accurate media coverage of sexual orientation issues for years, as well as a gal who has dated a number of bisexual women (and is now married to one), this a one of the many “duh” moments for the media and the public, who should really stretch their minds and know better.
Recent headlines in USA Today and other media, all along the lines of “women’s bisexuality and ‘identity’ not phase” (their quotes around identity, not mine) gave me very mixed feelings. Mostly a very large dose of “DUH” sprinkled with some “it’s about time” and “OMG how many ways will the media gratuitously sensationalize this?”
This new research, along with a soon to be released book by Utah-based professor and researcher Lisa Diamond about the fluidity of female sexual orientation, both suggest “the whole lesbian until graduation” myth (aka LUGS) is just that, and (here’s the big shocker) sexual orientation in general is a lot more diverse, fluid and complex than we thought! Ha! Someone get the smelling salts for both the gay and lesbian folks who think bisexual people are just “sitting on the fence” and the bigots who try and convert us or think we can change. It ain’t as easy as anyone wants to think, but the truth will slowly come out – and it is about time.
As an activist with a degree in biology and pre-med background (which has turned out to be very helpful), I feel like someone finally heard me (and others) who felt like we have been the proverbial trees falling – and yelling - in the forest to no avail. Even in – maybe especially in - the lesbian and gay community. Bisexual and transgender people have long understood that things are never the stark black and white most people would like life to be. I like to call it “living in the gray.” But I had to came to that realization myself when considering the amazing and sometimes frustrating diversity of our community. The media – and definitely not many of my fellow lesbians – were either no help or a font of misinformation, stereotype or flat out prejudice.
In the meantime, one of my favorite brushes with a large-scale public discussion of bisexuality came when Anne Heche (remember her?) left Ellen and began a relationship with a man. A picture is worth a thousand words – but a video is even better.
After my correction of his language at the onset of the interview, it is to George Stephanopoulos’ credit that he leaned over at the break and thanked me for being so polite about his gaffe. It taught me once again that it is more often ignorance, not prejudice, that prompts people to speak the way they do about LGBT people.
In a future post, I will offer a review of Lisa Diamond’s upcoming book, as well as the American Psychological Association’s research on this topic, but for now consider this a teaser – something to get people thinking and talking. I look forward to the conversation.