Being bisexual isn't always easy. There are still so many misconceptions about bisexuality - even about what it truly means (no, it isn't trans-exclusionary, no, it's doesn't mean you're only attracted to men and women, no you don't have to be equally attracted to people of other genders, no you don't have to have sex with someone of the same gender to prove your bisexuality) and that's incredibly frustrating. So if you're wondering, 'Am I bisexual?' or bicurious, you need to be wary of the bullshit. Despite what you may have heard, bisexual means attracted to more than one gender. Gender, like sexuality, exists on a spectrum. It is not binary. If you are attracted to people regardless of their gender, and have the potential to be attracted to someone of any gender, you could be pansexual. Other people might use queer. But the label you use is up to you, there is no right or wrong when identifying your sexuality.
Here, bisexuals explain how they knew they were attracted to people of more than one gender. And Marianne Oakes, lead therapist at GenderGP gives expert advice for anyone thinking they may be bisexual or looking to reflect on their sexuality.
"Am I bisexual?"
"The first thing to note is that sexual identity is not just about who you are attracted to, it is also about how you identify; who you see yourself as and how you want to be seen by others. Just because you think you may be bisexual doesn’t necessarily mean you want to act on it. Just because someone has sex with someone of the same sex, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are bi," explains Marianne.
It's really common and normal to reflect on and/or question your sexuality. "It's far more common that we realise. Everyone begins curious, you may recall having a strong pull towards a friend of the same sex as a child for example, but as we grow and we become more aware of social norms and where we fit within these, our sexuality is moulded to fit the way we want to be perceived," she adds.
How to start exploring bisexuality
"It can be helpful to start by exploring what bisexuality means to you, in the abstract. In terms of what someone should do, it depends on many factors. Are they single or attached, do they believe in monogamy or are they in an open relationship. What do they want to do about their sexuality and why is it even a question? Do they have some internal bias they need to address?"
And remember, the most important person in all of this is you. "This is about your feelings, your sexuality, your relationship status. If you feel you need to act, then act, but do it on your terms in your own time and within the perimeters of what you are comfortable with," Marianne says.
1."I didn't let myself use the label until I'd actually slept with a girl, which happened when I was 22, but the signs were there early on and I had been actively fantasising about it for years. I still gravitate towards the label bi and don't like that people keep calling that label transphobic/exclusive of non-binary gender identities, because that's not how the bi community defines it. I'm ambivalent about calling myself pansexual, since I really haven't encountered a gender identity I can't be attracted to. But many pan people describe themselves as feeling like gender is irrelevant to their experience of attraction, and that's not true for me." [via]
2."It started as, 'I just like lesbian porn'. Then it progressed to, 'I'm super feminist because women are strong and beautiful and wonderful'. After that I moved to, 'Wow some women are just breathtakingly beautiful and funny and sweet'. It was only after my own self image improved that I was able to move from, 'I want to be like her' to, 'I just want her'. I guess it took from about age 14 to 19, but my own insecurities still hold me back a lot." [via]
3."I’m a queer cisgender female, and I started exploring my sexuality when I was 31. I’m 35 now. I honestly had no idea that I was capable of being sexually and romantically attracted to people other than cis/heterosexual men until I actually tried it! My first time being sexual with a non-male was at a play party where I specifically stated that I wanted to play with women. The organiser took me up on it and we made out and got busy in front of basically everyone. What an amazing first time. After that I had opportunities to have consensual, low-pressure makeouts and sex with queer folx and women at other parties. Honestly, without that chance I’m not sure I would have realised I was queer and it was okay that I didn’t know for my whole life.
"My first romantic realisation of queerness was when I started dating my (hopefully) future spouse who is non-binary AFAB [assigned female at birth]. We immediately fell hard for each other, and I had absolutely no doubt that my feelings were valid and serious. Since then I’ve also started dating a woman (we’re all polyamorous)." [via]
4."I was 17. I realised I had a crush on a coworker when I was feeling disappointed when she told me about her husband and children. I actually should have realised sooner because when I was around 10, there was this presenter on TV whose cleavage I would always check out! But I was sexually repressed until I was 18, so I guess that's why." [via]
5."I'm still not sure how or when I realised, but I was 26 before I really accepted it. I'd kind of always liked girls/women but the way I felt about them vs how I felt about boys/men felt a little different, so I just brushed it off." [via]
6. "When I was a teenager my best friend was at my house for a sleepover, and she told me, 'I have a crush on you'. My immediate feeling was something like, 'Hey, I think I’m into that.' Making out commenced, and that is how I figured out I was bisexual." [via]
7. "In retrospect, I've had crushes on girls as long as I can remember. But I always confused them for admiration or jealousy as a kid. I remember sometimes thinking randomly, 'I'm not a lesbian, I've had crushes on guys.' Didn't even consider bisexuality until I was 16, and I had a sexy dream about a girl. And I went, 'Holy shit', and things started to fall into place. I always used to think that bisexuality was just a thing straight women pretended to do to be subversive/sexy, or a stepping stone to coming out as lesbian, because that was the only way I ever saw it portrayed. I didn't know any bisexuals who were out. So I just assumed it wasn't an option for me." [via]
8. "It was sure a bumpy ride. I always had crushes on guys, though I always got too uncomfortable to even kiss a guy. So I tried kissing a random girl at a party, and figured out I liked women. I thought I was a lesbian for a couple of years, and didn't even consider guys during that time. Then I started getting crushes on guys again... So I had sex with a guy. Now I'm bisexual. Sexual orientation is very obvious to some people, but to others, not so much." [via]
9. "As a teenager, I always found guys and girls attractive. I figured this was ‘normal’ for straight people. I never considered acting on any of my thoughts/feelings towards other girls. [When] I was in university, I hooked up with my housemate after a night out. Neither of us had been with a woman before. Afterwards it left me with many confusing feelings. Unfortunately she had a boyfriend, and blamed me for her cheating on him. She wouldn’t really talk to me about my feelings. It ruined our friendship.
"A few years later I tried dating another woman, but it didn’t work. The sex was great, but romantically we didn’t work. Over time, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m a heteroromantic bisexual. Sexually, I’m bisexual, and attracted to men and women. However romantically I’m only attracted to men." [via]
10. "Through my teen years, I was only attracted to girls I knew in real life. But I was attracted to male characters in fiction. So that was kind of confusing, but I just rolled with it. I figured I just hadn't met any boys IRL that I was attracted to. And given that I was only attracted to like three girls out of the hundreds I knew, that didn't seem implausible. Honestly though, it helped to just adopt an attitude of, 'Well I'm attracted to whoever I'm attracted to!' and not think too much about labels." [via]
11. "Okay, so there is this thing I guess that's common knowledge that girls look at other girls and check them out, even if they're straight. So, my friends would be like, 'Wow look at her boobs,' and I'd be like, 'Whoa I was just thinking that! I'm straight, then, because they're straight, and they're thinking what I'm thinking.' Only, I didn't notice growing up that they usually finished the sentence with, 'I wish I had boobs like that!' Whereas I would mentally finish the thought with, 'I wish she was sitting on my face.' [via]
12. "I always found myself gazing more at girls than boys. When I was old enough to discover porn and erotic art, I felt extremely aroused by the female images, but not the male ones. I'm bi, but I always found women a lot easier on the eyes, and have always had an easier time getting aroused thinking about women." [via]
13. "I’m in a relationship with a man, and have only dated men, but I’ve kissed girls and been into it sexually. And sometimes I masturbate to women. But I enjoy kissing and fucking dudes too, and sometimes masturbate to dudes, so it seems like the logical conclusion." [via]
14. "I still question it sometimes. I identify as bisexual, but sometimes I feel like I’m lying because I haven’t been with a woman since I was a teen in high school. But I find myself having crushes on women, and fantasising about women, so I still identify as bisexual when someone asks. But I think I just knew." [via]
15. "Just always been attracted to men and women. My upbringing from my mother was very insistent that I did not actually like women, so I learned very early to not talk about it. But it's never gone away. Since I'm married to a man, I get the typical backlash that I'm, 'not really bi' or 'will cheat some day'. Which of course is very irritating." [via]
16. "I’m in my late 20s and only realised I’m also into women this year. I looked back at high school and thought, 'Huh, I think I acted so crazy and jealous because I was in love with her.' And also realised I had these really specific memories of when friends looked especially beautiful. Hot damn, I’ve always been into women, how about that?" [via]
17. "In high school, any sex/romantic dreams I had revolved around girls, and I was kind of fixated with boobs. I also never experienced intense attraction to guys, so until I started dating my current (and only) boyfriend I actually thought I might be gay. I do wonder if I'm more demisexual, but I'm staying under the bi umbrella until/unless I discover differently for sure. For reference, I am now mid twenties and in a committed relationship." [via]
18. "Watching Cate Blanchett in Carol." [via]
19. "I just had that ‘butterflies in the stomach’ feeling for girls the same way I did boys. Now it’s only girls, but some guys are still fun to look at in a, 'yeah he’s attractive with a great body' way. But emotionally, it’s like watching paint dry." [via]
20. "There are men that I’m turned on by, and women that I’m turned on by. The first time I was attracted to a woman I wondered if I was a lesbian, even after multiple crushes on men. I quickly realised how silly that was. I know what I like." [via]
21. "I’m bisexual, but for most of my life I didn’t really think too much about what my exact sexuality was. I didn’t stress out about labelling myself, or officially coming out as anything. I just liked who I liked and dated who I dated and did what made me happy." [via]
22. "I had crushes on boys before. You want to get his attention, hang out with him, find excuses to get to know him and be noticed by him. If there was a cute boy in my class and I got paired with him on a project, I’d think, 'Yesssss!!'. One day it was just like that... but with a girl. She and I dated for four years. My taste in women is very, very specific. I have been attracted to significantly less women than men. But for the most part, it feels just the same." [via]
23. "It’s funny because I tried to convince myself I wasn’t attracted to women, and I was straight not bi throughout my entire high school experience. I basically settled it by watching porn and realising I was undoubtedly really attracted to women. I am however extremely choosy when it comes to women... I only like a very specific type. Although I am picky with men also but I don’t think I could be romantically involved with a woman it would only be physical." [via]
24. "Through my teen years, I was only attracted to girls I knew in real life. But I was attracted to male characters in fiction. So that was kind of confusing but I just rolled with it. I figured I just hadn't met any boys IRL that I was attracted to. And given that I was only attracted to like 3 girls out of the hundreds I knew, that didn't seem implausible. Honestly though it helped to just adopt an attitude of 'well I'm attracted to whoever I'm attracted to!' and not think too much about labels." [via]
25. "Being attracted to girls was incredibly natural for me. I had a best friend in secondary school (we were 12/13yrs) who would sleep over. We used to hug, snuggle, stoke and kiss. We never thought of it as sex I suppose, just being loving and doing what best friends do. Looking back, it always led to more than hugs. This went on for years before I realised that other girls were crushing on boys and didn't have the same intimate relationships with their girlfriends.
"I'm actually with a guy now, and have been for 8 years but I guess it's all down to whatever gets you hot, wet and ready at the time. I love him to bits but I had to figure out if boys did it for me (similar to you finding out if women do it for you?) and it was exciting, scary and pretty arousing. Just trust your instincts." [via]
26. "I was madly in love with Amy Jo Johnson, the Pink Power Ranger, as a 10 year old." [via]
27. "I've just known all of my life really. For as long as I've been attracted to people at all, I've been attracted to men and women. There wasn't one specific event that made me realize my sexuality it was just always there." [via]
28. "Interestingly, I thought I was gay at first. Spent two to three years of my life thinking I only liked girls, before one day a light bulb just randomly lit up in my head and I was like, “wait a minute...” [via]
29. "A friend pointed it out. I said I thought a girl was cute, she said, 'So you're gay?' I said 'No, boys are cute too'. She said I must be bisexual. I thought about it and realised that's what it was." [via]
30. "I’m bisexual, but for most of my life I didn’t really think too much about what my exact sexuality was. I didn’t stress out about labeling myself or officially coming out as anything. I just liked who I liked and dated who I dated and did what made me happy." [via]
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