Bisexual is just one of the many non-binary sexual orientations out there.
Bisexuality refers to one’s capacity to form physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions to the same, other, or more than one gender, not presuming non monogamy. These attractions can be experienced in differing ways and degrees over one’s lifetime, and sexual experiences need not determine if one is bisexual or not. That’s why there is such a broad spectrum of terms and identities available that help us talk about who we’re attracted to. In this section, we’ll talk about what it might mean to identify as bisexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, or other non-binary identities.
If you are attracted to the same, other, or more than one gender, you may identify as bisexual or “bi+.” In addition to bisexuality, there are several other identities that fall under the non-binary sexual orientation umbrella. But what does non-binary mean? Let’s break it down.
“Binary” means two parts. In America, society uses a binary system to classify sex and gender into male/man and female/woman. However, we know that there are a ton of other genders and sexes that exist beyond those two things, like genderqueer, transgender, intersex, and more – that’s where the word “non-binary” comes in.
Non-binary sexual orientations help us describe attractions to people who don’t identify as just male/man or female/woman. For example, people who are pansexual, or “pan”aren’t just attracted to men or women – they can be attracted to multiple or all types of people, no matter what their sex or gender is. This is a great example of a non-binary sexual orientation.
Other non-binary sexual orientations include, but are not limited to: queer, omnisexual, polysexual, fluid, homoflexible, lesbiflexible, and heteroflexible. These terms often mean different things to different people, and that’s okay! Make sure to ask questions and be respectful when learning about what each label means for each person. Remember, no one can decide how you identify except for you, because you know yourself best!
Originally used to put people down, the term Queer is starting to be used in a positive way by many LGBTQ people to describe someone who doesn’t identify as straight and/or doesn’t identify as cisgender (cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender they were given at birth). That may sound a little bit complicated, but it really just means that queer is a non-binary label that describes diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. The word queer can also be used as a way to reject the acronym “LGBT,” which some people feel is restricting. Ultimately, the word queer is whatever you want it to be – an expression of your gender, who you’re attracted to, or how you see yourself. Find the word that feels right to you, explore a new term, or decide not to label yourself at all – the choice is yours!
To be Questioning is to be unsure or less certain of your sexual orientation. You can also be questioning about your gender identity. It can be hard to find support when exploring your identity due to the stigma surrounding LGBTQ identities. However, The Trevor Project is always here if you need someone to talk to.
People figure out their sexuality and gender identity at different points in their lives, and there’s no wrong way to identify. Don’t worry if you’re still not sure! There isn’t a specific time when you need to know. If you’re considering coming out, check out Trevor’s “Coming Out As YOU!” – a guide that can help you brainstorm how you feel about your gender identity and sexual orientation: www.thetrevorproject.org/YOU
People who are bisexual often hear that their sexual orientation is a phase, or that they should choose to be attracted to one group over another. This is a form of discrimination, and it isn’t ok. The reality is that bisexuality is a real identity, and so is being pan, queer, or any other non-binary sexual orientation. Unfortunately, people who identify this way can face rejection and prejudice, even from the lesbian and gay community, who might assume that they are indecisive or promiscuous. Despite these challenges, bisexual and non-binary identities are a very important part of the LGBTQ community. Don’t feel discouraged – there are people out there who can relate to what you’re going through! If you’re between the ages of 13 and 24, visit TrevorSpace and start connecting with other LGBTQ young people and their allies.
- I finally came out to my parents/friends, but everyone has been telling me that being bisexual isn’t real, that I will grow out of it, or that it’s just a phase. But it’s not a phase. This is who I am! How can I help them understand?
- My mom says bisexuals are more promiscuous and have more STDs. Is this true?
- Isn’t everyone a little bisexual?
- Do you have to be equally attracted to men and women to be bisexual?
- Do I need to come out as bisexual if I don’t have a partner of the same gender?
- I am really only attracted to men, but there is there is this one lady that I have a huge crush on. I have always thought of myself as straight, but does this mean I am bisexual?
- I have never hooked up with a boy EVER, so how do I know if I am really bisexual?
1. I finally came out to my parents/friends, but everyone has been telling me that being bisexual isn’t real, that I will grow out of it, or that it’s just a phase. But it’s not a phase. This is who I am! How can I help them understand?Answer:Coming out to your family and friends is a really brave step! That isn’t easy, and it can be even more difficult when it seems like you weren’t heard or accepted. Bisexuality is a real identity, and you’re never too young to know how you feel. If you know that you’re bisexual, then no one can tell you otherwise!Unfortunately, you can’t control how everyone reacts to your news. It’s possible that even if your family and friends heard you, they might not be ready to understand what you’re saying. It might help to give them some resources, like Bisexuality 101. You can also find more tools for coming out in The Trevor Project’s, “Coming Out as YOU!” guide, available here: www.thetrevorproject.org/YOU.Question:
2. My mom says bisexuals are more promiscuous and have more STDs. Is this true?Answer:
Anyone who does not practice safer sex is at a heightened risk for STIs and STDs, but that applies to all people who are engaging in sexual activities. Liking more than one gender does not mean that you’ll automatically be more sexually active. After all, our sexual orientation does not determine our behavior.
It’s a myth that all bisexual people are promiscuous. The reality is that bisexual people could fall anywhere on the sexuality spectrum, from asexual or biromantic (have little to no sexual attraction to others, at all) to very sexual and physical. Also, just because someone is attracted to men and women does not mean they will be unfaithful to their partner, and or be with both men and women at all times. A bisexual person could be monogamous (have only one partner) or be polyamorous (have multiple partners) – just like someone who is straight, gay, lesbian, pan, etc. The combinations are endless, at that is totally ok!
3. Isn’t everyone a little bisexual?
Human sexuality is a really complicated, personal topic. There are so many different ways to identify, and the only person who can tell us how we feel is ourselves. When we suggest that everyone is at least a little bit attracted to more than one gender, we’re taking away people’s freedom to express who they truly like. Also, most bisexual people have put a great deal of thought into understanding their sexual orientation and it’s not fair to minimize their experience by saying that “everyone” is probably bi. Instead, we want to empower all people to identify in the way that fits them the best.
4. Do you have to be equally attracted to men and women to be bisexual?
A person who is bisexual does not have to be equally attracted to more than one gender identity. In fact, most bisexuals don’t experience attraction in a 50/50 split. It is very common for bisexual people to prefer one gender over another, and some say that this preference changes over time. Some bisexual people feel romantic feelings towards one gender but physical attraction towards other. Only you can identify what you’re feeling. It’s important to remember, though, that there is no rush. Take as much time as you need to determine what makes the most sense for you.
5. Do I need to come out as bisexual if I don’t have a partner of the same gender?
It is perfectly normal to feel unsure or worried about coming out. The question of whether or not you should come out is one that only you yourself can answer. Coming out has lots of positives; it can let people in your life know about an important part of you, it can help you to feel less alone, meet new friends as well as possibly meet people to date.
There are some questions that you could ask yourself when deciding whether to come out. If you do decide to come out, who would be the first person you would come out to? What would be the best case scenario for coming out? What would be the worst? Is there a possibility that things may go wrong if you come out and, if there is a chance, do you have a back-up plan? If there is a chance that coming out may put you at any sort of risk or endanger your ability to continue living at home, you may want to wait to come out until you are more independent.
Remember, it is your choice to come out and you do not have to come out to everybody in your life at once. You can choose who you want to come out to and when. You can also choose not to come out to certain people in your life. The choice is completely yours. Trevor supports you no matter what.
6. I am really only attracted to men, but there is this one lady that I have a huge crush on. I have always thought of myself as straight, but does this mean I am bisexual?
How you identify is completely up to you! If straight feels like the label that fits you best, then no one can tell you otherwise. If you feel like bisexual fits you better these days, then that is completely okay too. Even if neither of these labels fit, or starts to change over time, don’t worry – that is perfectly normal. You can label yourself, or not, in whatever way you see fit!
7. I have never hooked up with a boy EVER, so how do I know if I am really bisexual?
A person doesn’t need to have a physical experience with someone else to understand who they’re attracted to. In fact, sexual orientation describes way more than physical attraction – it includes our romantic, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual attraction to other people, too. Think about the crushes you’ve had, and who you fantasize about being with: girls, boys, both, or maybe other genders or sexes that don’t fit into the binary. Remember bisexual people do not need to have had equal sexual experiences with both men and women. It’s all up to how you feel – and if identifying as bisexual sounds right to you, then go for it!
- Bisexual Resource Center
- glaad – Bisexual
- LGBT Foundation – Coming out as bisexual
- HRC – A Resource Guide to Coming Out as Bisexual
- Planned Parenthood – Sexual Orientation
Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.