When a bisexual1 person comes out and is greeted with the dismissive (but so persistent) meme “Everyone is bi”, what we’re really being told is: “That doesn’t matter”, “We all function as straight so should be able to too”, “Why do you need to say it?”, “You’re just looking for attention”. We’re being told that our identities — who we are, in a real, fundamental way — are false.
Because if everyone is bi, no one is. It becomes meaningless. And we — once again — become invisible.
I do believe that most of us2 have a much higher capacity for enjoyment of sensuality and sexuality with all types of people than we currently allow ourselves or admit to. And yes, that means we can enjoy sensual and sexual encounters with people of many genders. But that is not the same as being bisexual — it’s not the same as having persistent, sustained (though variable over time) attractions to people of multiple genders.
Not everyone wonders what’s wrong with them that they can’t “just pick”.
Not everyone is scared of talking about all of their crushes or all of their past relationships.
Not everyone wonders where the hell the people who are like them are on TV (and why when they’re there, they’re either jokes and sluts, or cheaters and murderers).
Not everyone struggles with the times when their lovers — their beloved, committed, beautiful partners — don’t feel like the right shape/right reactions/right gender, though they feel so very right at other times.
Not everyone feels out of place in the straight world and out of place in the queer world if they’re closeted, and not everyone gets kicked out of both on a regular basis if they cease lying about who they are.
You think everyone’s bisexual? Tell me that after you’ve actually felt what it’s like to be non-monosexual in a world of monosexual supremacy and privilege. You may mean it to be supportive, but if you’d been here, you’d understand why when you tell me “everyone’s bi” my face starts turning the colors of my pride flag.
While I’m on the topic, you simply must must must read The day I “decided” to “stop” being “straight” parts one and two by Ruth Moss. She makes many excellent points and dispels many myths of non-monosexuality, and does it with wit and style.
- In this post I reluctantly use “bisexual” and “bi” as shorthand for all non-monosexual identities, including but not limited to bisexual, pansexual, and omnisexual. Normally I prefer to identify as and use the term “queer”, both because it does not support the false binary of gender and because it indicates solidarity with all non-straight sexualities; for this post, however, I need to make that distinction, and I find non-monosexual — with its definition by what we are not rather than what we are — to be both off-putting and unwieldy. ↩
- In general, but I wish to acknowledge that there are many exceptions; for example, people who are asexual may desire sensual encounters but not sexual ones, and people with sensory issues or certain disabilities or neuroatypicalities may not enjoy sensual contact. ↩
- As though everyone else is so great at that; taken a gander at divorce rates recently? ↩
- It occurs to me I may be enjoying my new footnote generator a bit too much. ↩