While sitting in a Religion and the Arts class, I was taken back when a young man made the statement, “Hey, he’s homo. He likes both.” Obviously he had a misunderstanding of what homosexuality was and I was unable to control my laughter. I looked at him through tears and said, “Kenny, do you mean bi?” Of course he had, but in his short, blunt statement, I still felt slapped dead in the face with the thought of how much misunderstanding, misconception there is about sexual labels.
The thought floated about in my mind for several days until, once again, I was locked into a conversation about sexuality and labels. Between friends, we were discussing the Bruce Jenner saga. At the time, Jenner had yet to announce the chosen name of Caitlyn, so we openly referred to him as Bruce. I posed the question, “Will Bruce now be considered bisexual?” I openly wondered about the definition of bisexuality. On a personal level, I would not have said I am bisexual. I have had one same sex encounter in my life. Although the moment was quite erotic and sensual, I have never had an inclination to pursue a same sex relationship. I feel I do have a sexual preference for men, but does the term bisexual only hinge on who you enjoy between the sheets? Or could the possibility of the mere fact I willing look at women in admiration of their beauty, and find enjoyment in my personal relationships with other women, which are void of sexual intimacy, push me into the bisexual category? We all sat silent for a moment and I decided then I was just as ignorant as Kenny in my knowledge of sexual labels.
When I began to search the internet for definitions in the effort of perhaps finding an answer I was struck by the differences in the definition of the word “bisexual.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary gave three definitions: “1. sexually attracted to both men and women, 2. having both male and female parts, and 3. relating to or involving two sexes.” Although not a truly credible source, I did venture onto Wikipedia. My thoughts were, “I’m looking for the perspective of the people around me, and this site is filled with real people answers.” Under the title “Bisexuality” Wikipedia states, “Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior toward both males and females, and may also encompass romantic or sexual attraction to people of any gender identity or to a person irrespective of that person’s biological sex or gender, which is sometimes termed pansexuality.”
Woah, hold up…”may also encompass romantic or sexual attraction..?” What the hell is the difference between romantic and sexual attraction? I assumed they were the same, interchangeable, you can’t have one without the other. Ignorance seems to be seeping from pores. Reading further in Wikipedia the statement pops up again, “The term bisexuality is mainly used in the context of human attraction to denote romantic or sexual feelings toward both men and women.” Obviously the world feels there is a difference between romantic and sexual attraction.
Back to Merriam-Webster. Romantic is defined as, “of, relating to, or involving love between two people, making someone think of love: suitable for romance, or thinking about love and doing and saying things to show that you love someone.” Sexual is defined as, “of, relating to, or involving sex and of or relating to males and females.” My thoughts about sexual components are dead on. My tripping stone is the definition of romantic love.
Based off of the definitions provided, romance doesn’t have to involve a sexual encounter. Many people engage in romantic relationships with each other and are of the same sex, but would have never considered themselves to be bisexual. I’m one of them. I show my best friend quite often how much I care about her and love her. It’s the equivalent of a bromance, maybe? I send her notes saying how grateful I am to have her in my life, how important she is to me, and how much I love her and always will. I’ve never considered myself romantic toward her, but is this only because of my own ignorance to what romance can ultimately entail? Have I been sucked into a sticky trap of labels which have been perverted to adhere to only one viewpoint when, in fact, based off of definition, they embrace a much wider scope of actions?
Today I sit questioning my sexual label, and not in a bad way. This world is in a constant state of change and embracing those changes is important. I mean, if change had never occurred, we would all still be floundering about and unable to even articulate a discussion about sexual labels. Are we all bisexual, or at least a majority? Based off of the thoughts found on the internet – we are. The bigger question is, are we willing to open our minds, change our perspective, and embrace a label with a definition steeped in the idea of openly loving each other regardless of gender, but one which has been perverted to only apply to getting laid?
How do you define bisexual? After reading this article would you be willing to change your idea about the label?