Columns / Discourse / September 26, 2018

Bisexuality is valid but do we understand it fully?

As I start my sophomore year at Knox College, I wanted to make sure that my TKS articles were important to me. I began to search through old discourse articles I wrote in the previous year and stumbled on “Bisexuality is valid, nothing less” published Oct. 11, 2017.

This was obviously an important topic to me, but what blew my mind whilst reading it was the lack of knowledge I had when it came to the LGBTQ+ community, even with being involved in it. It quoted, “One is often looked at as either gay or lesbian. Bisexuals are the third wheel of the gay community.”

While this may be true to some extent, I completely forgot to mention the other sexual orientations that are forgotten altogether. After a term at Knox, I realized that I wasn’t even bisexual, but pansexual, a sexual orientation that I had to Google search to find the definition while I was questioning. I was never exposed to these concepts until coming to Knox.

How could I talk about bisexual erasure when I hadn’t been recognizing all the other valid and important sexual orientations? I was erasing the identities of millions of people by only including three orientations as the “standard” gay identities.

This also made me think of how I wasn’t aware of the different gender identities before coming to Knox and being immersed on a campus like this one really helped me learn about the general idea of not living in the binary. (Yet knowing a person who identifies outside of the binary is not the same as understanding the identity, so do more research.)

I realize now that my focus was only on the binary. My article was, and is, important to me, but thinking within the binary creates an idea that the only valid orientations are the ones within the binary — either a man or a woman.

After much evaluation throughout the year, I realize that bisexuality is more than just being attracted to men and women, but it could be any two genders, and that isn’t recognized enough either. Someone who identifies as bisexual could be into people who identify as non-binary and people who identify as a man (or any other combination of two). When I wrote the article published in October 2017, I was erasing the bisexual orientation by only thinking of it within the binary.

So while I wrote passionately about the erasure of bisexuality, I was erasing the people who live outside of the binary altogether. It is important that when we want to fight for a community, we understand the full concept of the community. My thinking that I liked both men and woman was forgetting about all the other people who identify outside of the binary, but I still thought I included everyone. This is when I understood that I am pansexual instead of bisexual because my attraction is towards anyone. But I only understood this once I stopped telling, and started learning.

 

Sadie Cheney

Tags:  binary bisexuality lgbt spectrum

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