Article on Bisexuality

It’s interesting (in perhaps a misguided way), how much effort there is to prove or refute the existence of bisexuality.

See the recent article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis in the New York Times Magazine, March 20, 2014:

The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists

The title alone addresses the futility – perhaps unwittingly – via use of the word “quest”:

a search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something


A mission (synonym of “quest”) to ferret the “truth” – somehow scientifically – of what is in the “heart” or “soul” of a person, what a person knows or suspects to be true about his or her sexual orientation and gender identity.

Isn’t the quest, in and of itself, suggestive of prejudice, bias, and discrimination among those members of society in which sexual orientation or gender identity does not conform to their views?

How many have suffered having to hide, question, or experience the degradation brought on by hateful discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including in this article, bisexuality and bisexual invisibility and biphobia?

Kind of “unserious and unfocused” are they (from the article)? These had their sexual orientation all wrong:

I felt a sudden kinship with the self-described bisexual men in Bailey’s original 2005 study, who must have been surprised to learn that they had their sexual orientation all wrong.

And this response by the author is a classic!

I could imagine a potentially awkward scenario the next time someone asked me if I was into men or women. “Well, now, that depends on whether you believe the sex researchers at Northwestern or Cornell,” I might have to say.

From Amnesty International:

The range of abuses is limitless:

  • women raped to “cure” their lesbianism, sometimes at the behest of their  parents;
  • individuals prosecuted because their private and consensual relationship is deemed to be a social danger;
  • loss of custody of their children;
  • individuals beaten by police;
  • attacked, sometimes killed, on the street – a victim of a “hate crime”;
  • regular subjection to verbal abuse;
  • bullying at school;
  • denial of employment, housing or health services;
  • denial of asylum when they do manage to flee abuse;
  • raped and otherwise tortured in detention;
  • threatened for campaigning for their human rights;
  • driven to suicide;
  • executed by the state.

And some key facts:

  • Sexual orientation covers sexual desires, feelings, practices and identification. Sexual orientation can be towards people of the same or different sexes (same-sex, heterosexual or bisexual orientation).
  • Gender identity refers to the complex relationship between sex and gender referring to a person’s experience of self expression in relation to social categories of masculinity or femininity (gender). A person’s subjectively felt gender identity may be at variance with their sex or physiological characteristics.
  • The specific terms people use and identify with in matters of sexuality and gender identity vary widely from culture to culture.

Some additional sources worth looking at:

The American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity:

APA’s Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity:

APA Division 44’s (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues) journal, Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity:

Who can really tell what is in the heart and soul of a person, and how do we get to the “heart of the matter?” And who are we to presume to know and tell another person what he or she is…really?

The veritable quagmire of attempting to do this, with any sort of scientific certainty, can be seen in this telling passage in the New York Times article:

I heard myself asking Sylla if he was “more attracted” to men or women. I had assumed that the answer would be men, because he’d been with Szymanski for 17 years — and they’re monogamous, according to what Szymanski wrote in “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe.”

Sylla smiled patiently and told me that in a purely physical sense, he was probably more interested in women. “But my attraction to a person doesn’t have much to do with their body parts,” he said.

“But do you feel any internal or external pressure to identify as gay, because you’ve been together so long?” I asked.

Szymanski chuckled. “It used to be an annual conversation with my parents at Thanksgiving. ‘Still bisexual? Still bisexual?’ ” he said. “But we don’t ask straight people about the last time they had sex and then suggest that they aren’t actually heterosexual if it’s been a while.”


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