Why Bi? Bisexual Individuals’ Coming out Experiences
Mount Saint Vincent University
This research focuses on the coming out experiences of eight women (ages 19 to 43) who identify under the umbrella of bisexual. With an ever growing acronym to encompass different sexual orientations, there is more need than ever to focus on those who fall outside the heterosexual/homosexual binary. Eight women were interviewed and topics of discussion included coming out experiences, social support, discrimination, and community involvement. Critical theory guided the research process, with the intention of exploring bisexual people’s experiences as their own group, examining how their sexual identities affected their everyday life experience. The main findings that became evident through the conversations were: the importance of sexual fluidity to a bisexual orientation specifically, experiences with discrimination (mostly from family, and other queer people) and social support (mostly from heterosexual friends), as well as bisexual erasure and heteronormativity as a dominant ideology. Heterosexual privilege may be one of the biggest points of contention between gay/lesbian people and bisexual individuals, because heterosexuality (the most valued of all sexual orientations in Western society) is still a part of the bisexual person’s attractions. Also, many stereotypes and dominant beliefs around bisexuality make people question its legitimacy when someone comes out as such. Loved ones may even have their own frustration when they did not “see it [the bisexual orientation] coming” or if the bisexual person in their life has not passed what they have created as a “gay threshold”. Coming out is a continual and selective process, and although it has been associated with distress in previous research, it also has many positive benefits such as challenging heteronormative expectations, allowing someone to live and love authentically, and accept themselves for who they are.
Bisexuality , sexual orientation