The Bisexual Index

Crossing Off That Bridge When You Come To It

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Is bisexuality the bridge that brings the gay and straight communities together? Are we the mediators that pull warring sides together?

One of the things that really confuses us at The Bisexual Index is when people try to position bisexuality as some sort of magical middle-ground between gay and straight. Sure, we're not attracted to just the gender that gay people are, nor just the gender that straight people are, but that doesn't mean that either they're all that far apart or that we bisexuals sit between them in any other way. We blame Kinsey, or perhaps people trying to use his scale as a bigger model than was intended.

It's the "Half Gay, Half Straight" myth, essentially - having been told there's more than two options many people try to fit the new options between the other two. Bisexuality isn't a third option to these people, it's a one-and-a-half-th. Some bisexuals, even some bisexual activists make this mistake. It's like viewing a triangle end-on -what you think is a mid point becomes a separate and equal node if instead you look from above.

We're not in between. We're not mixed, stirred together, confused or muddled.

Many times when looking at the HIV statistics, people posit that there is a "bisexual bridge" that spreads HIV from the gay to straight populations. While this may appeal to researchers in terms of modelling it's really not helpful in the long-term for promoting safer sex among bisexuals; it's telling us our very existence is the problem. The truth is that it's not bisexuals that spread HIV, unsafe sex spreads HIV. Some of that will be by bisexuals, but it's not their sexuality that is spreading it, it's their actions. Bisexuals have not been found to be less likely to use condoms than gay men, for example. No one involved in HIV Prevention in the LGBT community promotes the message "it's gay men that are spreading HIV within the gay community, don't have sex with gay men" - instead they focus on the behaviour that is high risk. We'd like the same level-headedness to apply to bisexuals too.

Some bisexual activists have either tried to reclaim the bridge metaphor or have seized upon it as a mental image without realising how it was already being used. They encourage people to picture bisexuality as a bridge between the gay and straight worlds, or islands, and say that it "links" them, or "brings them together"

But this metaphor, even without the baggage of being used in a HIV context, is problematic and biphobic.

Worlds, or islands, are solid, fixed, steady. People can live on them. They support a diversity of communities. Two entirely separate islands, or worlds, might have different languages, and most likely have nothing in common.

But the heterosexual and homosexual communities aren't like that. They share language, art, music, sports, many aspects and many people. Parents and children can belong to different ones. There's no turbulent sea or gaping void turning back explorers. - it is possible to travel between them, or work with both of them, without referencing bisexuality at all. The fact is, we'd like people to work with both of those while also including bisexuality, but we don't want to use the bridge metaphor.

A Bridge Too Far?

What's wrong with bisexuality being seen as a bridge between these communities? Aside from the fact that they're far too similar to be usefully seen as entirely separate?

We believe that bisexuality isn't transient, or fleeting, or a construct. It's not flimsy, nor a poor choice. It's not just the middle of the journey, it can be either or both ends.

So, should we picture bisexuality as an island too? What would be the bridges between them then? Perhaps it's one big island and we're the town between the two cities? That's problematical as well, as it suggests that we sit on ground that's been either taken from the Gay and Straight identities, or that if the perception of these broadens we'll be squeezed out!

Here at The Bisexual Index we think that people should be encouraged to stop thinking in such linear ways. Let's go back to that triangle; seen from above there's three equal nodes. Imagine it as a map, with the town at each corner having grown to form one big city of sexual identities. A bustling metropolis, there's room for all, and it's possible to get from gay to straight, or bi to gay, or any one of a number of loops. There's room for expansion at the fringes of all. Where the towns meet and merge there's plenty of space for people who want to take time to decide, or indeed to settle down and never need to, because the truth is that there is no fence.

We're all in this together, we all need to work together for equality. Bi isn't where gay and straight meet, because sexuality isn't a one dimensional street.

Bisexuality - Not A Cocktail Of Gay & Straight

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