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Human sexuality

Bisexuality: Part 2: Review & summary of
terms. How bisexuals are misunderstood

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This topic is a continuation from Part 1

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Review of the medical/therapeutic concept of bisexuality:

To many gays, lesbians, bisexuals, physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, human sexuality researchers, religious liberals, and some others, the term "sexual orientation" primarily defines to which gender(s) an individual is sexually attracted:

  • A heterosexual is attracted only to some persons of the opposite gender;

  • A homosexual, is attracted only to persons of the same gender;
  • A bisexual is attracted to some persons of both genders, although not necessarily to the same degree. 

They believe that all three sexual orientations are normal and natural for a minority of the adult population. They view an adult's orientation as not consciously chosen. It is not changeable through prayer, therapy, surgical intervention, or any other technique that has been tried. A person does not decide to be of a certain sexual orientation. Rather, it is something that people discover about themselves.

By defining sexuality in terms of how people feel, and not according to their behavior, a person can feel attractions to both men and women, decide to remain celibate, and still be considered a bisexual by themselves and others.

Some persons with a bisexual orientation make a conscious decision to confine their sexual activity to person(s) of one gender and still be considered a bisexual by themselves and others. This is because sexual orientation is primarily defined according to one's feeing of sexual attraction and not one's behavior.

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Definitions of "bisexuality" -- a summary:

With these differences in the definitions of "bisexual" and "bisexuality," chaos reigns. Dialog is very difficult. Debates can be unproductive. We recommend that people first decide on a common definition of these terms before proceeding with any discussion. 

As is our custom, we will use the definitions adopted by a consensus of physical and mental health professionals throughout this web site. That is, we will refer to bisexuality as a sexual orientation -- a feeling of attraction for both men and women, although not necessarily to the same degree. This applies whether the individual is sexually active or not. A celibate bisexual is still a bisexual.

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Misunderstandings, sweeping generalizations and stereotyping of bisexuals:

Misinformation abounds on any topic that involves human sexuality. However, it seems to be particularly prevalent in data related to homosexuality and bisexuality:

  • Everyone is bisexual: Freud taught it. However, it does not appear to be true. Kinsey found that only a very small minority of adults identify themselves as bisexual on his 7-level rating scale. His team found that most people were rated at either 0 (purely heterosexual; attracted only to members of the opposite gender) or 6 (purely homosexual; attracted only to members of the same sex.) 1

  • Only about 2% of the adult population is bisexual: This depends upon your definition of the term "bisexual". "Research carried out at the Harvard School of Public Health, USA in 1994 found that 20.8% of the men and 17.8% of the women studied admitted to same-sex sexual attraction/behavior at some time in their lives." 2 No data is available that predicts the percentage of the population who consider themselves to be bisexual, but have not acted on those feelings.

  • Nobody is bisexual: Prior to the mid-1980s, many gays and lesbians believed that there were only two sexual orientations: homosexual or heterosexual. One was either sexually attracted to the same sex or to the opposite sex. They regarded bisexuals as if they were really homosexuals who were not ready to come out of the closet. Since then, the vast majority of homosexuals and gay-positive groups have accepted bisexuality as a separate, legitimate sexual orientation. In reality, there are individuals who have identified themselves as bisexual throughout their entire adult life and who have had fulfilling sexual relationships with both men and women during their adult life.

  • Bisexuality is just a phase: For some it may be. For example, many gay males attempt to avoid society's homophobia by attempting to develop a sexual relationship with a woman. A few even go so far as marrying. In the past, many Christian denominations recommended marriage as a "cure" for homosexuality. But such relationships are generally very short term; the individual's sexual orientation remained homosexual. However, other individuals sincerely regard themselves to be bisexual throughout their entire adult life.

  • Bisexuals are only satisfied if they have sexual partners of both genders: No. Bisexuals are attracted to both genders, but do not necessarily act on their feelings of attraction.

  • Bisexuals spread AIDS: Some believe that "bisexuals choose to be perverse, they spread the HIV virus with their indiscriminate sex lives, and they make a mockery of things such as marriage and the family." 3 This may well be true, for a few bisexuals. However, it is also true of some heterosexuals and homosexuals. In Africa, HIV is most commonly spread through heterosexual intercourse. In North America, it is spread most commonly through anal intercourse and the sharing of dirty intravenous needles -- practices done by persons of all sexual orientations. The solutions to the AIDS problem involves celibacy, or monogamy, and safer sex techniques. This is the "ABC" approach promoted in many African countries: Abstain from sex, or Be faithful and wear a Condom.

  • Bisexuals are equally attracted to both genders: Some believe that to be a bisexual, one must be sexually attracted to men and women equally. This is definitely not true. In the Kinsey scale described above, a person who is equally attracted to both men and women are classivied as a "3." Kinsey found many bisexuals who identify themselves as a 1, 2 (i.e. mainly attracted to members of the opposite gender), or a 4 or 5 (i.e. mainly attracted to members of the same gender). Many individuals, although attracted to both man and women, have a real preference.

  • Bisexuals are incapable of being monogamous: Many bisexuals have proven that this stereotype is wrong. A heterosexual male might be attracted to a substantial percentage of the approximately 2 billion adult women in the world. And yet, they are quite capable of committing themselves to a single partner. Similarly, a bisexual person might be attracted to a substantial percentage of the approximately 4 billion adult men and women in the world. Yet they are also capable of committing to single partner. Senator Don Nickles' comment above is incorrect by the most common meaning of the term "bisexual;" bisexuals may be celibate or monogamous; they may have few partners, or be promiscuous.

  • Bisexuals alternate genders in their relationships: The author was told by a sincere person who regarded themselves as knowledgeable about bisexuality, that if a bisexual person ends a relationship with a man, their next sexual partner will always be a woman -- and vice versa. There appears to be no basis for such a belief.

  • Bisexuals have the same problems as gays and lesbians: Not necessarily. Bisexuals who admit or act on their attraction to members of the same sex will be at the same risk as gays and lesbians of being victims of: gay bashing, being discriminated against in hiring, being firing from their job, being refused accommodation, losing custody of their children, etc. But there are many other factors to consider:

    • A bisexual who keeps their attraction to the same sex a secret can pass in society as a heterosexual and not be at risk of homophobia.

    • Some openly bisexual individuals are also subjected to prejudice from the lesbian/gay community. However, this prejudice is dissipating as more gay/lesbian groups have evolved to become lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) groups.

    • Some have to deal "...with the emotion of SOs [Significant Others] who we deeply love yet who cannot understand our attraction to both sexes." 4

    • Others have to deal with the myths and misunderstanding of the public towards bisexuality. 2,5

  • Bisexuals "...possesses a generally indiscriminate sexual desire toward persons of both sexes:" This is a quotation from America, the national Roman Catholic weekly. 6 They criticize bisexuals in this way, but do not enlarge on their definition later in the article. In fact, they only refer to bisexuals once in the entire article. It is not precisely clear what the authors meant by "indiscriminate" desire. However, all adults, including those with a bisexual orientation are typically attracted to only some persons and not to others. They may discriminate in terms of the age, physical attractiveness, body style, etc. The author may be expressing the belief that a bisexual is equally attracted to both men and women. This is a well known fallacy.

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This topic continues in Part 3

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References used in the above essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Kinsey's heterosexual-homosexual rating scale," at:
  2. The Usenet newsgroup has a FAQ list at:
  3. Melanie Ashby, "Girls who like boys ... and girls," Channel 4 Health, at:
  4. Quote taken from a now defunct Facebook page.
  5. "Bisexuality: The myth, the legend, the life," at:
  6. Melvin Blanchette & Gerald Coleman, "Priest Pedophiles," America, 2002-APR-22, at:


  1. Albert Lunde, "Bisexuality notes," at:
  2. The Usenet newsgroup has a FAQ list at:
  3. "Kinsey's heterosexual-homosexual rating scale," at:
  4. "Humorous quotes attributed to Woody Allen," at:
  5. Lynn Schultz-Writsel, "'Reparative' Therapy: Does it work?", 2000-FEB, at:
  6. "Bisexuality: The myth, the legend, the life," at:
  7. Senator Don Nickles, ENDA debate in the U.S. Senate, 1996-SEP-10.
  8. Melany Ashby, "Being bisexual," Channel, at:
  9. Melvin Blanchette & Gerald Coleman, "Priest Pedophiles," America, 2002-APR-22, at:
  10. Evelyn Schlatter, "Intelligence Report: 18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda," Southern Poverty Law Center, Winter 2010, Issue # 140, at:
  11. Benedict Carey, "Straight, gay or lying? Bisexuality revisited," New York Times, 2005-JUL-05, at:
  12. G. Rieger et al., "Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men," Pub Med, 2005-AUG, at:
  13. A,M, Rosenthal et al., "The Male Bisexuality Debate Revisited: Some Bisexual Men Have Bisexual Arousal Patterns.," Pub Med, 2011-DEC-23, at:
  14. Melanie Ashby, "Girls who like boys ... and girls," Channel 4 Health, at:
  15. Quote taken from a now defunct Facebook page.
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Site navigation: Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Basic data > Bisexuality > here

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Copyright 2001 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JAN-19
Latest update: 2012-JAN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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