Sunday, October 18, 2015

Explaining Bisexuality

I was talking with my parents the other day, and my mom asked me about someone I know who is bisexual.

Mom: But she just got married?
mk: Yep
Mom: To a man?
mk: Yes
Mom: But I thought she was bisexual?
mk: She is.
Mom: I don't understand. Doesn't bisexual mean she likes both men and women? So why is it that she married a man?

I thought about this one for a couple of minutes, trying to figure out a way to get the concept of bisexuality into my parents' heads. Small-town people, born in the 40s, living their whole lives in a state that is not known for its diversity. Neither of them have close friends (that they are aware of) who are gay or bi or trans. They're not ignorant people, just not experienced with diversity and awareness, and never really having to challenge themselves with it. Here's what I came up with.

mk: OK. Look at bisexuality this way. A person reeeeeeeeeally likes blondes. WOW, they love blondes. Blondes are amazing! But wait...redheads...ohhh, redheads are just fantastic. Now, who they choose to fall in love with and marry isn't decided on hair color, but personality. And if they end up with a blonde, that doesn't mean they don't like redheads anymore. See?

And the light dawned.

I kind of like this allegory, on multiple levels.

* It doesn't assign gender, so the person you're talking to doesn't automatically say 'but he "should" be with the blonde' or whatever
* People "get" being attracted to a "type" like tall, dark & handsome, or a blond model, etc., and they can "get" being attracted to multiple "types"
* They can use their own personal experience (liking brunettes but marrying a blond, doesn't mean they don't like brunettes anymore)
* Nowhere in there is any judgement that liking blondes and redheads makes a person a slut, or greedy, or several other stigmas that bisexuals get bludgeoned by.

It is ALL about finding the image that works for someone, to explain things in a way they can relate to. Just like "The Spoon Theory" helped my parents understand a little tiny bit more what it's like dealing with being mentally ill every day, the haircolor allegory helped them understand a little tiny bit more what being bisexual means.

As always, take what helps, leave what doesn't. ~mk

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