No matter who we are or whom we love, our identities are valid, and we deserve the right to live openly as our authentic selves.
When you disclose your sexual orientation to your parents or caregivers, they may:
Embrace you with open arms and surprise you by knowing more about bi+ people than you expected.
React in ways that hurt, such as crying, getting angry or feeling embarrassed.
Need to grieve over the dreams they’ve had for you before they see the new, more genuine life you are building for yourself.
Ask where they “went wrong” or if they did something to “cause this.” Assure them they did nothing wrong and didn’t cause you to be bi+. You can also let them know that there is nothing wrong with being bi+.
Think of being bi+ as a sin, or attempt to send you to a counselor or therapist in hopes they can “change” you.
Ask what the chances are of you choosing a different-sex partner.
Say it is easier to just “pick a side” and choose to be gay or lesbian, or straight.
Assert that being bi+ is simply a phase.
Already know or have an inkling that you are bi+.
Feel a sense of relief.
No. Although the prefix “bi” refers to two, there are more than two genders. Bisexuality simply means attraction to more than one gender. This can include men, women, non-binary people, gender non-conforming people, and dozens more in a combination that is personal to each bi+ individual.
No, bi+ people can feel attraction to people of different genders in a variety of different ways. A bi+ person may be more attracted to people with genders similar to their own, or more attracted to people with genders different from their own. They may feel romantically attracted to one gender, sexually attracted to another, and any number of combinations for different genders or individuals. They may also experience fluctuations in their attraction to different genders over time. Regardless of how they experience romantic and/or sexual attraction, bi+ people are valid and an important part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Many bi+ people experience bi erasure when others doubt their bi+ identity, claim bi+ people are just confused or experimenting, or that bisexuality is just a “stepping stone” toward being gay or lesbian. Bi+ is its own valid identity, and so are all of the identities under the bi+ umbrella.
Bi+ people also face the stereotype that they are promiscuous or more likely to cheat on their partners. The reality is that bi+ people may choose to have one partner or multiple, just like people of any other sexual orientation. Nor are bi+ people more likely to cheat on their partners. Cheating has nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation.
ASEXUAL: A person who lacks, either in whole or in part, sexual attraction or desire. Sometimes used interchangeably with ace or gray.
BISEXUAL/BI+: A person emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual.
BIPHOBIA: The fear and hatred of, or discomfort with, people who love and are sexually and/or romantically attracted to more than one gender.
GENDER IDENTITY: One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
INTERSEX: An umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural biological variations that differ from those classically thought to be typical to either men or women. In some cases these traits are visible at birth, while in others they are not apparent until puberty. Some chromosomal variations of this type may not be physically apparent at all.
PANSEXUAL: Describes someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to people of any gender though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with bi+.
QUEER: A term people often use to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that are counter to the mainstream. Queer is often used as a catch-all to include many people, including those who do not identify as exclusively straight and/or folks who have non-binary or gender-expansive identities. This term was previously used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by many parts of the LGBTQ+ movement.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION: An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Note: an individual’s sexual orientation is independent of their gender identity.
For general information on bisexuality and the bi+ community, visit www.hrc.org/bisexual.