Bisexuality

Some people assume bisexuality is a phase and that people who say they are bisexual are really gay or straight. But bisexuality is a distinct sexual identity, different from gay or straight.

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Hi! I’m here to help you explore what it means to be bisexual. It starts with the core element of attraction. In other words, who are you attracted to? Bisexuality is often misunderstood, but the more we learn, the more we understand that it is a sexual orientation all its own. And it has nothing to do with how we show up in the world, or the body we were born with. Let’s dig in...

The Basics

Bisexuality is often misunderstood by both the gay and straight communities. Increase your understanding here!

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What is bisexuality?

Hear from one of the top researchers of bisexuality, Dr. Tania Israel about the complexities of bisexuality.

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How does a person know if they are bisexual?

Bisexuality is more than attraction or behavior. It’s about how people see themselves and how they identify.

Thumbnail for More than just gay vs. straight

More than just gay vs. straight

For decades, human sexuality researchers have measured a spectrum of orientations, including bisexuality.

Real people

Hear from people who are bisexual as they talk about their identities and relationships.

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Monogamy and bisexuality

Explore 3 relationships in which one of the partners is bisexual.

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"Do I even have the right to wear the label 'bisexual' anymore?"

A bisexual woman who is married to a man describes her inner struggle over whether to come out.

The Science

Until recently, researchers largely overlooked the study of bisexuality.

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Overcoming hurdles to bisexuality research

Explore why bisexuality has been overlooked by scientists and is still invisible to many.

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It's not just a phase

Dr. Lisa Diamond, Ph.D., has conducted significant research that debunks the myth that bisexuality is just a phase.

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What can we learn from arousal patterns?

Scientists have studied sexual arousal patterns to better understand bisexuality.

The Stats

The demographics of bisexuality among LGBT individuals.

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Many in LGB community identify as bisexual

How many people in the LGB community identify as bisexual? It might be more than you think.

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More women identify as bisexual

Explore research that shows how sexual attraction, behavior and orientation differs across genders.

Glossary

Bisexual

(Adj.) Refers to the sexual orientation of a person who experiences sexual, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to persons of more than one gender, not necessarily equally or at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree. Also known as "bi".

Gay

(Adj.) Describes the sexual orientation of persons who are emotionally, sexually, and/or romantically attracted to persons of the same sex/gender. While the term is most often used to describe men, it can also be used more broadly to refer to both men and women (i.e., gay man, gay woman, gay people).

Gender non-conforming

(Adj.) Describes a person who does not behave in a way that conforms to traditional expectations for their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. Also known as gender variant.

Heterosexual / Heterosexuality

(Adj.) Primary or exclusive sexual, emotional, and/or romantic attraction to a gender other than one's own. Typically this means a woman who is primarily attracted to men and vice versa. Also referred to as "straight".

Homosexual / Homosexuality

(Noun) A term that describes a primary or exclusive sexual, emotional, and/or romantic attraction to persons of one's own sex/gender. The term is considered outdated by many in the LGBTQ+ community but is still used in some research contexts.

Lesbian

(Adj./Noun) Refers to the sexual orientation of women who are emotionally, sexually, and/or romantically attracted to women.

Pansexual / Omnisexual

(Adj.) Describes a person who experiences emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to persons of all gender identities and gender expressions. An alternative to bisexual, which evokes the idea of an attraction to only two genders.

Queer

(Adj.) Alternative term to LGBTQ+. An umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual. Historically a negative term and insult, queer is being reclaimed by many LGBTQ+ people—particularly youth—as a source of pride and political identity. The term is valued by some for its defiance, by some because it can be inclusive of the entire community, and by others who find it to be an appropriate term to describe their more fluid identities. “Queer” is still disliked by some people in the LGBTQ+ community and its use by straight people can be considered offensive. Due to its varying meanings, this word should only be used when self-identifying or quoting someone who self-identifies as queer (i.e. “My cousin identifies as genderqueer.”)

Questioning

(Adj.) When a person is in the process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof.

Sexual identity

(Noun) The way a person views and understands their sexual orientation, such as gay, straight, bisexual, or some other orientation.

Sexual orientation

(Noun) An enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction or non-attraction to other people. People use a variety of labels to describe their sexual orientation. Some of the better-known labels or categories include bisexual, pansexual, asexual, lesbian, gay or straight. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender and gender non-conforming people may identify with any sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during or after gender transition.

Straight

(Adj.) Another term for heterosexual. Refers to the sexual, emotional, and/or romantic attraction to a gender other than one's own. Typically this means a woman who is primarily attracted to men and vice versa.

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Citations & Sources

Bouchard, K.N., Timmers, A.D., Chivers, M.L. (2015). Gender-specificity of genital response and self-reported sexual arousal in women endorsing facets of bisexuality [Abstract]. Journal of Bisexuality 15 (2), 180-203.

Clark, T. (n.d.). Invisability: Talking about bisexuality and aging. Retrieved from https://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/pdfs/INVISIBILITY%20bisexuality%20and%20aging%20NRC%20fact%20sheet%20final%206.2.20171.pdf

Copen, C.E., Chandra, A., & Febo-Vazquez, I. (2016). Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual orientation among adults aged 18–44 in the United States: Data from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth. CDC: National Health Statistics Report, 88. Retrieved from http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2016/images/01/06/nhsr88.pdf

Danielle. (n.d.). I’m From Mt. Sinai, NY. Retrieved on January 11, 2018, from http://imfromdriftwood.com/im-from-mt-sinai-ny/

Denizet-Lewis, B. (2014). The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/magazine/the-scientific-quest-to-prove-bisexuality-exists.html

Diamond, L. (2008). Female Female bisexuality from adolescence to adulthood: Resulting from a 10-year longitudinal Study [Abstract]. Developmental Psychology, 44 (1), 5-14.

Dotinga, R. (2016, January 8). More woman report having same-sex relationships. Retrieved January 11, 2018, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-women-report-same-sex-relationships

*Friedman, M. R., Dodge, B., Schick, V., Herbenick, D., Hubach, R. D., Bowling, J., ... & Reece, M. (2014). From bias to bisexual health disparities: Attitudes toward bisexual men and women in the United States. LGBT health, 1(4), 309-318.

Gates, G. J. (2014). LGBT demographics: Comparisons among population-based surveys. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/lgbt-demogs-sep-2014.pdf

Israel, T. Bisexuality and youth: Introduction to the special issue [Abstract]. Journal of Bisexuality, 2010(4), 359-365.

Israel, T. (2015, July 7). Bisexuality and beyond: Tania Israel [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=APPb__tpGHk

Johnston, T.R. (2016). Bisexual aging and cultural competency training: Responses to five common misconceptions [Abstract]. Journal of Bisexuality, 16(1), 99-111.

The Kinsey Scale. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.kinseyinstitute.org/research/publications/kinsey-scale.php

The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.americaninstituteofbisexuality.org/

Rainbow Health Ontario. (2015, May 27). Bisexual communities and partners [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5pM3ejn8Ow

Rosenthal, A.M., Sylva, D., Safron, A., Bailey, J. M. (2012). The male bisexuality debate revisited: Some bisexual men have bisexual arousal patterns [Abstract]. Archives of Sexual Behavior 41, 135-147.

Ward, B. W., Dahlhamer, J. M. Galinsky, A. M., Joestl, S. S. 2014. Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2013. CDC: National Health Statistics Report, 77. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr077.pdf