Bisexuality: “It’s only a phase!”
Hardly any sexual orientation is taken as little seriously as bisexuality. The reason: We love pigeonhole thinking. Stop it! She already knew in kindergarten that Eva* not only likes boys but also girls. She liked Tobias. He got a wet kiss on the cheek from her as they sat together in the Lego corner. But she also liked Melanie. He wanted to give her a picture, painted with a blue crayon on a crumpled piece of clay paper.
It shows two spidery line figures with long hair holding hands. Eva never gave the picture to Melanie. “I was quite confused when only men and women were depicted as couples in our colouring books. I just didn’t understand it. Was that a law? As a girl, were you only allowed to like boys?” Not until much later, when Eva had almost finished primary school, did she talk to her mother about it. “She laughed and said that it was okay. Some girls just like girls better’ she said. And I only thought to myself: “But I also like the boys!
- It’s hard to say how many people in Germany identify themselves as bisexual. In 2015, a study came to the conclusion that no woman is really hetero-, but at least bisexual or lesbian.
- This assumption is based on the fact that women are more often turned on by other women; whether this also says anything about whether one could imagine a (sexual) relationship with a person of the same sex is debatable.
- The research website YouGov has placed its trust in self-disclosure and asked 1600 people between 18 and 24 how heterosexual they consider themselves.
- The result: just half said they were absolutely heterosexual, while 43 percent said they were somewhere between homosexuality and heterosexuality, thus affecting the bisexual realm.
Bisexuality does not fit into the grid
The history of bisexuality is a long one: Sigmund Freud already assumes in his 1930 text Das Unbehagen in der Kultur that man is basically bisexual, but that this is not permitted by civilisation. In the course of his Kinsey Report, the American sexual researcher Alfred Kinsey also put forward the thesis that at least 90 percent of the population has bisexual tendencies. In ancient times this was even the norm. “As long as the term bisexuality does not refer to an individual’s double-gender physiology, but to sexual behaviour, it was not a problem either in ancient Greece or in ancient Rome,” writes Michael Groneberg in his book Der Mann als sexuelles Wesen. “Greeks and Romans did not know the modern contrast between heterosexuality and homosexuality that the idea of bisexual behavior presupposes, and they would not have understood it at all.
Today the situation is different: the dualism of heterosexuality and homosexuality dominates. Bisexuality, this strange in-between thing, may not fit into the grid. And that’s exactly the problem. “I experience a lot of incomprehension,” says Eva. “It’s hard for many people to accept that I’m attracted to both men and women.” The saying she hears most often? This is just a phase. “That hurts me,” says Eva. “I have no phase and I am not a lesbian who has yet to become aware of her sexuality.
Why do sexual inclinations have to be fixed?
Eva is now 22 years old and is studying mathematics and sports in Stuttgart. She has had a boyfriend for half a year, before that she spent two years with a woman. “Try explaining that to your grandparents. They think I’m permanently trapped in puberty and still have to try myself.” Many bisexuals report problems like this: if you don’t want to be put in a drawer, you have a hard time. Especially strange: even in homosexual and queer communities bisexuals are not taken seriously. The queer rapper Sookee speaks of “these terrible undecided bisexuals”, the gay journalist Dan Savage writes in his column that men simply cannot be biased. This exclusion has dramatic consequences: In bisexual women the suicide risk is 5.9 times higher than in heterosexuals, in bisexual men 6.3 times higher than in heterosexuals.
“I have the impression that bisexuals are the new homosexuals. The prejudices against homosexuality that are slowly being reduced are now being transferred to bisexuality,” says Michel Dorais, a university professor in Québec who holds seminars on sexual diversity. “There are many taboos on this subject. But where is it written that sexual preferences and inclinations must be fixed or must not change? Regina Reinhart from the American Institute of Bisexuality in San Diego also wants more openness about bisexuality. “It is important that we bisexuals get recognition as well. Bisexuality is a sexual orientation.”
Bisexual women are more likely to be recognized
Bisexual men in particular regularly experience hostility. In the gay community, for example, bi-men are often not taken seriously, writes stern. They have to listen to the fact that in reality they are not gay at all, because they prefer to do it with women. “Or that they are just too cowardly to profess to be gay.” In general, female bisexuality seems to be more recognized; this is probably due to the fact that smooching women are omnipresent in pop and mainstream culture and to some extent also fulfill stereotypical male desire fantasies. Madonna’s and Britney’s kiss at the MTV Awards today, thirteen years later, would hardly make anyone itch. If we imagine the situation with two men, things would look completely different. Just think of the last album cover of the rapper Bass Sultan Hengzt, on which two men kissed. A Shitstorm of the extra class went down on him – which proves how bigoted a large part of the rap scene is. Kissing women? You can see it in every music video. Kissing men? Shitstorm incoming. “The flow of female sexuality is not threatening for many people because they see female sexuality as flexible and yielding anyway. But you can’t apply this concept of flow to a man’s hard, throbbing sexuality,” writes Monica Heisey on Vice. “Grow up!”
Eva, too, is tired of having to justify herself all the time. “It’s actually quite simple,” she says, “I don’t care if you’re a guy or a woman: if I find you horny, then I find you horny.” Or, as the author Kerstin Münder puts it: “I love people and not gender”. That’s how simple it is.