Julia Maher ’23
United States citizens tend to view sexuality as a very rigid, binary idea. We entertain the notion that each person identifies as either straight or gay, and that sexuality does not change or fluctuate over time. This model, however, proves harmful and limiting, especially to individuals who possess more fluid sexual orientations. Sexual fluidity means that one or more changes in sexuality or sexual orientation occurs throughout a person’s life, and individuals who identify within the Bisexual+ (Bi+) community commonly experience it. The Bi+ community includes those who identify as bisexual, pansexual, queer, and fluid, among other sexualities.
According to Robyn Ochs, bisexuality is sexual and/or romantic attraction “to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.” This definition perfectly encapsulates what it feels like to be a member of the Bi+ community. In fact, many Bi+ people report experiencing something called a “Bi cycle”—a cycle of sexual and/or romantic attraction that fluctuates back and forth among all the genders to which they are attracted and changes over time. For example, a Bi+ person might report feeling more attracted to women than men at one point, more so to men than women, more so to non-binary people than to women or men, or exclusively to one gender, and then their attractions proceed to fluctuate and shift continuously over time. Not all individuals who identify as Bi+ experience this phenomenon, although it seems common.
Society demonizes the Bi+ community due to their seemingly ambiguous identities, but we should embrace sexual fluidity because nothing in life ever proves to be completely rigid or certain. There are so many stereotypes and misunderstandings about Bi+ people, including that they cannot pick a side, that they have to be solely attracted to men and women, that they are promiscuous or greedy, and that they have to categorize their attractions as percentages, sometimes described as “50/50,” “60/40,” or “70/30,” among many others. The majority of Bi+ people, however, do not identify with this practice; instead, they are individuals who deserve to own their fluidity and do not have the responsibility of proving their sexual rigidity or certainty to anyone.
Especially in our Western culture, society pressures individuals to figure out all aspects of their identity before they graduate college—they have to score a financially secure job, get married young, start a family before they turn 25, and, if applicable, come out loud and proud. However, what if we viewed ourselves are constantly evolving, nuanced human beings who are beautifully ambiguous? Why can’t we realize that life does not end at 25? How can we accept our fluid nature as humans, especially regarding some people’s sexuality? Ultimately, we need to foster more inclusion so that individuals who identify as Bi+ feel safe and welcomed in our society. We need to ditch ridiculous stereotypes and make room for those who do not identify with a rigid or fixed sexual orientation. We need to become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable about other people’s identities and stop projecting our insecurities onto them. We need to do better.