I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Anna Paquin lately. Yes, True Blood is always on my mind nowadays, that’s a given. But I’ve been thinking about Anna Paquin specifically – or rather, I’ve been thinking about recent comments that she’s made.
Since spontaneously coming out as bisexual in an unscripted move on video in 2010, Anna Paquin hasn’t been shy about expressing her pride. Speaking to HuffPost Live recently, Anna said,
“There’s people that are going to go to their grave thinking what they think about the LGBT community. That’s their problem not mine.”
One million times, this!!! If I could reach through my computer screen and high-five this amazing blonde mass of awesomeness, I’d do it til I lost all feeling in my hand. I think this resonated so deeply with me because I’ve been thinking something along this line for several months now. While I used to be so affected by the words and actions of homophobes, I’ve been finding myself caring less and less in rapid decline these days. However, the point of this post has more to do with what Anna continued to say.
“And there’s people that think that monogamy and bisexuality are mutually exclusive. Again, their problem not mine.”
Ah, bisexuality, the double-edged sword of the LGBT letter spectrum. Lesbians, gays and transgenders all get shit from the straight world. Switch on your television or log onto your computer and you’ll find a never-ending parade of homophobia and transphobia. For the most part, though – particularly within the LGBT community – there’s a sense of support and community for each other. Note that I said “for the most part”, because I’m all too aware that this isn’t always the case. However, it’s absolutely incredible to realise that bisexuals get shit thrown their way, not only from hateful heterosexuals, but right from within the LGBT community! Did you know that in this day and age, there are still people – gay and straight – who believe that bisexuality doesn’t really exist? Some of the most popular hate thrown at bisexuals include:
– Bisexuality is just a cover up for those people who don’t want to admit that they’re gay
– Bisexuals are sexually insatiable perverts who just want to have sex with anyone
– Bisexuals just don’t know which side to pick so they “double dip”, and it’s disgusting
I just… I don’t know how to deal with this level of ignorance. I admit that when I was a lot younger – probably in my early teenage years – there was a time when I absolutely loathed bisexuals. After all, here I was, scared that I’d always be in the closet, afraid and unhappy because I could never love someone from the opposite sex like the whole world thought I should, and bisexuals were parading around, pretending that they understood this same struggle, when they could choose to be with someone from the opposite sex and live happily ever after. It took a bit of growing up on my part to realise how stupid I was being but, by the time I first came out to my family at 17, I had long shed this narrow-minded perception of bisexuals.
Just like homosexuals, the vast majority of bisexuals struggle at some point or another with their sexuality. A pretty good argument could even be made that it’s more difficult for them than it is for someone who’s gay. Wait, hear me out! While a sixteen year old lesbian might be struggling with the fact that she is in no way sexually attracted to any of the guys at her school, her realisation that she is exclusively into the females around her probably makes it easier for her to understand that she is gay. On the other hand, a young bisexual male who has always been and continues to be sexually attracted to girls, just like all his other friends are, will no doubt start freaking the hell out when feelings for other boys start developing. In this case, he cannot accept that he is gay, because Playboy still gives him a raging hard on, but he’d no doubt feel like a freak or pervert when the sight of his Hispanic History teacher in khaki pants also elicits a tightening down there. In both cases, it would be hard to come to terms with their sexuality, I don’t deny that… my point is merely that being bisexual doesn’t automatically exclude someone from the shame and struggle of their frowned-upon sexual orientation.
Where it does get a bit more complicated, especially in the eyes of Kinsey 6 homosexuals, is that bisexuals do have the ability to feel the sexual attraction, and fall in love with, someone from the opposite sex – a choice that, despite the claims of the wackjob fundamentalist Christians, we do not have. Why, then, if there exists this ability, which would automatically make life exponentially easier for you, would you even entertain the homo side of your bisexuality? Because this involves complex arguments of not being able to choose who you fall in love with, or the freedom to be with whomever you’re attracted to, not to mention the psychological devastations of suppressing and repressing a core component of your sexual identity. Most people choose, however, to ignore these factors, and go straight for the assumption that bisexuals just enjoy the ability to sleep with anyone.
Here’s the question, though. Does being bisexual automatically equate being sexually promiscuous? It’s easy to understand why someone would think that – I won’t begrudge anyone who subscribes to this belief, regardless of how inaccurate it may be. After all, logic would suggest that having the ability to be sexually attracted to someone of either sex theoretically broadens one’s sphere of sexual possibilities. However, theory and reality don’t always coexist. The argument that a bisexual would want to sleep with anyone they see is no more valid than the argument that a homosexual man would want to sleep with any male that he sees… it is also no less offensive, I might add. Why, then, is this belief still so heavily perpetuated?
I have a theory that the media has something to do with it, especially but not limited to pornography. In mainstream media, doesn’t it often appear that bisexual characters are inherently more sexually fluid or sexually adventurous than other characters? Take a look, for instance, at famous movie characters such as Alexander’s Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell) or Basic Instinct’s Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone)… in both instances, the character is portrayed as overly sexualised, especially in relation to their heterosexual counterparts. Even in television, this idea seems to be perpetuated. Quite recently, Chilean actor Pedro Pascal made quite the splash on Game of Thrones as Prince Oberyn Martell, an openly bisexual man, whose primary passion seems to be bedding whomever catches his eye. Grey’s Anatomy’s Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) was also openly bisexual, and had sexual relationships with two female colleagues and several male ones… though, to be fair, that’s less of an indictment of bisexual characters, and more so of Grey’s characters in general, because everyone seems to be promiscuous on that show. Let’s not even go into how pretty much every female pornstar has had at least one lesbian scene in their career, regardless of their sexual orientation. We may say “Oh, that’s just how porn works”, and brush this off, but it may have more far-reaching consequences than we might think. Imagine a heterosexual male who’s been watching porn from the time he was thirteen years old well into adulthood, with every single one of his favourite female pornstars engaging in lesbian intercourse as energetically and vocally as they would with a man to whom they genuinely are attracted. This guy isn’t going to bother to discern that this is just done for the camera and viewing fantasy; he’s going to grow up, subconsciously conditioned to the idea that the only instances of bisexuality to which he is exposed, involves a sexual voracity that is unparalleled in his personal heterosexual world.
The truth is, the average bisexual is no different from me or you, and craves monogamy as much as the next person. Mind you, all this being said, sometimes it just may be more difficult for them to find it, because there are very many persons (gay and straight) who adamantly refuse to date a bisexual. It’s hard enough to worry about the fact that your partner will fall in love with someone else of your sex and leave you for them… it’s that much more terrifying to know that this possibility is doubled with a bisexual partner. See that? Even in the realm of commitment, we fear the dreaded imaginary theoretical promiscuity of bisexuals.
Now, I don’t deny that there very well are those bisexuals for whom promiscuity remains the ideal, but can’t the same be said for some homosexuals, heterosexuals and transgenders alike? Sexual identity is not an indication of one’s level of sexual commitment, and it’s about time we understood this. With all the progress we’ve made over the years in terms of understanding the nature of sexual orientation, we are no closer to fully understanding the spectrum of human sexuality than we were a hundred years ago. This lack of awareness, however, should not equal deliberate ignorance. A homosexual who is bitter over the duality of bisexuality is no better a judge of all bisexuals than a raging homophobe is a judge of all homosexuals. Let’s stop lumping everyone into the same behavioural category simply because they share a sexual orientation. Let’s look at the individual, look to the individual, and learn from their specific story.
Pic via The Feminist Griote