The great bisexual activist Robyn Ochs writes,
Many lesbians and gay men believe that bisexuals have less commitment to “the community,” and that whatever a lesbian or gay man might have to offer to their bisexual partner will not be enough to outweigh the external benefits offered to those who are in heterosexual relationships.
And many lesbians and gay men believe “that those who have a choice [bisexuals] will ultimately choose heterosexuality.”
Ochs makes some very good and important arguments in this article, but she does not try to disprove the idea that bisexuals tend to “ultimately choose” an opposite-gender relationship over a same-gender relationship when bisexuals “have a choice.”
In fact, the idea that bisexuals “ultimately choose heterosexuality” when we “have a choice” is a disprovable statement. Indeed, bisexuals show a preference for same-gender relationships.
We do this by comparing the actual genders of bisexuals’ partners against the genders of those partners were they to be chosen by random chance.
For example, if we were to assume partners were chosen by random chance and assume that half the US were straight and half gay, then we would expect 50% of bisexuals to be in opposite-gender relationships and 50% in same-gender relationships.
But this is not the case.
According to Wikipedia, “the Williams Institute review conducted in April 2011” that said 1.7% of the US identifies as lesbian or gay and 1.8% identifies as bisexual.
So when selecting partners via random chance, only around 4% of bisexuals would be in same-gender relationships and 96% would be in different-gender relationship.
The actual numbers are much more skewed toward same-gender relationships: 9% of bisexuals in relationships are in same-gender relationships while 84% are in opposite-gender relationships. That is double the number of same-gender relationships selected under random chance.
Thus, if some bisexuals choose opposite-gender relationships for the associated heterosexual privilege, then that number is overpowered by bisexuals who show a preference for same-gender relationships.
Ochs suggests a few possible reasons someone might prefer same-gender relationships—
the absence of scripted gender roles, freedom from unwanted pregnancy, the ease of being with someone with more similar social conditioning, and so on.
Here’s another she doesn’t mention: a commitment to the LGBT community. Some bisexuals may be highly involved in the LGBT community and thus end up with other LGBT partners; other bisexuals may feel that partnering outside the LGBT community does make them traitors, and thus they feel they have a duty to have a same-gender partner.
But whatever the reason, make sure you take this to heart:
Bisexuals are not traitors; we do not “ultimately choose heterosexuality” because of the associated privilege; and, we see ourselves as part of “the community” whether or not others do. Please speak out against those who suggest otherwise.
*I thank Thomas Van Ness Leavitt for originally bringing up this argument on the BiNet USA Facebook page.