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Many people are 100% gay or lesbian, and are drawn sexually and emotionally only to partners of the same sex. Others are completely heterosexual, bonding in sexual and intimate relationships only with people of another sex. But what about everybody else? A significant percentage of people do not fit neatly into either of these categories, because they experience sexual and emotional attractions and feelings for people of different genders at some point during their lives. For lack of a better term, they are called bisexuals, although many people prefer to call themselves "pansexual," "non- preferential," "sexually fluid," "ambisexual," or "omni-sexual."
As you can see, there is no simple definition of bisexuality, and bisexual people are a very diverse group. There are several theories about different models of bisexual behavior. J. R. Little identifies at least 13 types of bisexuality, as defined by sexual desires and experiences. They are:
Alternating bisexuals: may have a relationship with a man, and then after that relationship ends, may choose a female partner for a subsequent relationship, and many go back to a male partner next.
Circumstantial bisexuals: primarily heterosexual, but will choose same sex partners only in situations where they have no access to other-sex partners, such as when in jail, in the military, or in a gender-segregated school.
Concurrent relationship bisexuals: have primary relationship with one gender only but have other casual or secondary relationships with people of another gender at the same time.
Conditional bisexuals: either straight or gay/lesbian, but will switch to a relationship with another gender for financial or career gain or for a specific purpose, such as young straight males who become gay prostitutes or lesbians who get married to men in order to gain acceptance from family members or to have children.
Emotional bisexuals: have intimate emotional relationships with both men and women, but only have sexual relationships with one gender.
Integrated bisexuals: have more than one primary relationship at the same time, one with a man and one with a woman.
Exploratory bisexuals: either straight or gay/lesbian, but have sex with another gender just to satisfy curiosity or "see what it's like."
Hedonistic bisexuals: primarily straight or gay/lesbian but will sometimes have sex with another gender primarily for fun or purely sexual satisfaction.
Recreational bisexuals: primarily heterosexual but engage in gay or lesbian sex only when under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Isolated bisexuals: 100% straight or gay/lesbian now but has had at one or more sexual experience with another gender in the past.
Latent bisexuals: completely straight or gay lesbian in behavior but have strong desire for sex with another gender, but have never acted on it.
Motivational bisexuals: straight women who have sex with other women only because a male partner insists on it to titillate him.
Transitional bisexuals: temporarily identify as bisexual while in the process of moving from being straight to being gay or lesbian, or going from being gay or lesbian to being heterosexual. Many of these people might not call themselves bisexual, but because they are attracted to and have relationships with both men and women, they are in fact bisexual.
While literally millions of people are bisexual, most keep their sexual orientation secret, so bisexual people as a group are nearly invisible in society. Gay men and lesbian women have long recognized the need to join together, create community, and to organize politically. Long years of hard work have led to significant gains in political and human rights, as well as a visible and thriving gay and lesbian community. Bisexual people have been much slower to come out of the closet, create community, and form political and social networks to gain visibility and political clout. Many bisexual people have spent decades working in gay and lesbian organizations, and in recent years, bisexuals have become more accepted as part of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender community. However, the rigid dichotomy between gay and straight has caused many bisexuals to feel alienated and rejected by gay men and lesbian women, and in recent years many independent bisexual political and social groups have sprung up.
Many bisexual people complain that they feel like outsiders in both the straight and gay/lesbian worlds, and that they can't fit in anywhere, feeling isolated and confused.
Many gay men feel that bisexual men are really gay, that they are just in denial about being Gay, and that they should "just get over it." Many straight men are homophobic and hate and fear both bisexual and gay men, often victimizing them with harassment and physical violence. Many straight women reject bisexual men out of misguided fears that they have AIDS, and admonish them to "stop sitting on the fence and make up their minds." Bisexual women are often distrusted by lesbians for "sleeping with the enemy," hanging onto heterosexual privileges through relationships with men, and betraying their allegiance to women and feminism. Straight women often reject bisexual women out of fear they will make sexual overtures and try to "convert" them to being bisexual.
Some people see bisexuality as inherently subversive because it blurs the boundaries, confronting both heterosexuals and gay men and lesbian women with sexual ambiguity. As a result, bisexuality challenges concepts of sexuality, traditional relationship and family structures, monogamy, gender, and identity.
Bisexuals cannot conform to the ethics of either the gay or straight world or they would not be bisexual. Instead they must re-invent personal ethics and values for themselves, and create responsible lifestyles and relationships that serve their needs even though they don't fit anyone else's rules.
Some researchers have note that being bisexual is in some ways similar to being bi-racial. Mixed-race persons generally don't feel comfortable or accepted by people of either ethnic group, feeling that they don't belong or fit in anywhere, as their existence challenges the very concept of race. Like bisexual people, they spend most of their lives moving between two communities that don't really understand or accept them. Like biracial people, bisexual people must struggle to invent their own identities to correspond to their own experience. Forming a bisexual identity helps bisexual people to structure, to make sense of , and to give meaning and definition to their reality.
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