Bisexuality is Not a Trend.

Rachael Previti
August 17, 2023

I came across an article by the New York Post titled “Gen Z women identifying as bisexual in unprecedented numbers – but are they just following a trend?”. Now, as a Gen Z bisexual woman myself, this obviously infuriated me. It’s exactly this kind of verbiage that has plagued the bisexual community with a very specific set of criticisms that are unique to young bisexual women. 

Seeing this article, I was inspired to talk to Gen Z women who identified as bisexual. For many years, I’ve discussed the complicated nature of what it means for a woman to be bi. However, I wanted to see if other women shared similar thoughts and experiences as I had; if they’ve also experienced the very strange, yet accepted, form of delegitimization of bisexuality that comes from verbiage like “it’s just a trend.” 

Because the truth is, our society has made major strides in accepting, legitimizing, and destigmatizing the LGBTQ+ community. But, it seems that because bisexuals are interested in both heteronormative and gay relations, the mic has been largely passed over us; our experiences often chalked up to hypersexuality, an under-commitment to the gay community, or “trying to be cool.” It’s high time we pass the mic to hear from bisexual women ourselves. We are not a trend. We are not manic pixie dream girls. We are not a “third.” We are people who have a sexual preference. 

This piece does, however, acknowledge that there are other issues in the larger LGBTQ+ community that still need to be addressed. But what we are focusing on here are the experiences and issues that are specific to the bisexual women community.

1. Bisexuality is not a trend.

18.2% of Gen Z women identify as bisexual, making it one of the most common sexualities for Gen Z women to identify as, only second to being straight (GWI). To someone who doesn’t identify as bisexual, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that amidst a time period where the LGBTQ+ community has been at the forefront of the socio-political landscape, more people would start identifying as LGBTQ+. One of the most common forms of backlash that youth who come out of the closet experience is being accused of following a trend. And to that, let me say this:

No one would willingly put a target on their forehead to make themselves susceptible to the hate and misunderstanding that continues to plague the LGBTQ+ community, just because they think it’s a fun, little quirky thing. Identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community is much more widely accepted now, but it is still dangerous for many youths, and it comes with a lot of baggage. While yes, more people are coming out as bicurious or experimenting with their sexuality, it does not negate the legitimacy of those who identify as bisexual.  

More people are coming out of the closet and identifying as bisexual now for two reasons:

  1. As noted above, being LGBTQ+ is much more accepted now and more people feel comfortable expressing their sexual identity
  2. We have actual verbiage to identify ourselves as bisexuals

It’s really as simple as that. When I came out to my best friends in my freshman year of high school, I told them I was “gender fluid” because I had NO idea what I was talking about. I didn’t know that what I was trying to identify with was “bisexual” because I didn’t quite have the verbiage for it in 2013. But as LGBTQ+ discourse became a larger part of mainstream conversations, I discovered bisexuality as a sexual identity and was like “Oh yeah, that’s me! That’s what I’ve been trying to say!”

This is an incredibly common experience for women who identify as bisexual. While talking to Camille during her interview, she expressed that she had a similar discovery around 10, specifically citing that she had “never had the verbiage” to express what she was feeling until much later. Another interviewee, Adeja, states that she realized that she also liked women in the 7th grade. These folks (including me) are in their 20s now. So if this is “following a trend”, then we’re really committing to the bit. 

The point is, for most bisexual women, feelings of questioning your sexuality have lingered around for a good, long while. It takes discernment, self-awareness, discovery, and certainly a lot more than a trend to come out as bisexual. It is just that many women, who in another time period may have not been able to express their sexualities, are finally able to do so without overwhelming shame. And the more of us that come out, the more other folks can be encouraged to do the same. That is not a bad thing. 

2. Being a bisexual woman in a heteronormative relationship still means you’re bisexual. Being a bisexual woman in a relationship with another woman still means you’re bisexual.

A unique struggle for women who identify as bisexual is that some people seem to misinterpret the meaning of bisexual. Really quickly, here’s what it means: someone who is bisexual is sexually and/or romantically attracted to both (or any and all) genders! Wow! That’s a pretty easy one. So, it absolutely mystifies me how the second a bisexual woman enters a relationship with any gender, there is a sudden need to delegitimize that person as bisexual. This is usually more so the case when a bisexual woman is in a heteronormative relationship. On the flipside, it’s not uncommon to hear “why aren’t you just lesbian then,” when a bisexual woman is dating other women.

One interviewee, Rebecca, states her unique experience being a closeted bisexual. She feels like she will never truly be able to come out safely due to familial and religious pressures. Rebecca is currently in a relationship with a man and says that she has not dated women because she doesn’t want to put a partner through the experience of being closeted. Having not dated women, Rebecca has internalized feelings of imposter syndrome regarding her sexuality because the expectation is oftentimes: “you’re not actually bisexual if you haven’t dated a woman.”

For Camille, who has dated both men and women at this point but is currently in a committed relationship with a man, experiencing backlash in a heteronormative relationship comes externally. She says this: 

“It makes me not even want to bring up my sexuality because people invalidate you as someone who is gay even though the whole point of being bisexual is dating both men and women.”

Adeja brings in yet another perspective, being someone who identified as lesbian and strictly dated women for the majority of her years since coming out of the closet. Adeja has only recently rediscovered an interest in men and is now floating between the labels of bisexual and pansexual. Adeja’s time identifying herself as lesbian, in no way, invalidates her bi/pansexuality. Nor does labeling herself as bi/pan invalidate her experiences when she identified strictly as lesbian. 

This point is part of a much larger conversation that persists throughout the LGBTQ+ community. Labels change, perceptions of the self change, and people are ever-evolving amalgams of their experiences. No one owes you an explanation of their sexual preferences or gender orientation, or how they came to their decisions in the first place. Bisexual women are still bisexual women whether they date men or women, unless they feel like they have outgrown that label, and feel like something else describes them better. But that’s not for anyone else to validate or invalidate.

3. Bisexual women aren’t sex objects and we aren’t out to get you.

Another aspect of being a bisexual woman is being oversexualized, hypersexualized, or deemed sexual deviants. It’s not uncommon to hear “that’s hot” or “so we can have a threesome?” when expressing your sexuality to a straight male. Adeja tells me, “It’s like brownie points” if you’re bi to some men, and that just feels objectifying & exploitative.

Camille expresses the other end of the stick saying: “If you’re bi, people just think you’re a whore.” In other words, the duality of being a bisexual woman encourages a duality of hypersexualization. Where on one hand, you have folks trying to exploit you for being bisexual (unicorn anyone?) or you have people just straight up slut-shaming you for your sexual preferences.

A shared experience between anyone of the LBGTQ+ community, is backlash that comes from folks of the same-sex. Camille tells me about entering her freshman year of college when her roommate openly expressed that she wouldn’t be able to room with a bisexual or lesbian, without Camille disclosing her sexuality. Camille’s roommate said that she “didn’t want [bisexuals or lesbians] to look at her'' and that she wouldn’t “ever want to come home.” While on the surface, this situation can be understood as Camille’s roommate valuing her privacy, what it actually does is paint a picture of bisexual women (and queer folks in general) as disrespectful, sexual deviants. You can make your argument about “well if you’re a heterosexual woman and your roommate was a man, you wouldn’t want to share a room with him either and it’s the same thing” and no, it’s not the same. Because historically, heterosexual men have objectified, sexualized, and committed violence against women in a way that women do not do to other women.

4. Bisexual women are fully part of the LGBTQ+ community.

There is a “B” in LGBTQ+, however, it’s a common experience for bisexual women to not feel “gay enough” to partake in or truly feel a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Due to bisexuals partaking in both heteronormative, queer relationships, or anything in between, when some of us are in relationships with a straight man we feel like we aren’t privy to the LGBTQ+ community anymore. Camille says that she feels like she’s not gay enough to identify with the LGBTQ+ community all the time, but especially when she’s dating a man. 

For the most part, bisexual women feel like the LGBTQ+ community is a safe place for them. Rebecca tells me that when she’s with the LGBTQ+ community, she feels like she doesn’t have to mask and she feels more validated. But, there are times where it’s easy to feel alienated from the community when we’re in heterosexual relationships.

Whether we’re closeted, out to all of our friends and family, in a queer relationship, a heterosexual relationship, or anything in between; a bisexual woman is still bisexual in all of those cases. Bisexual women are queer and we are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Thank you to all of the folks who were interviewed for making this piece possible. It was incredibly healing for me to talk to fellow Gen Z bisexual women so openly about these experiences. <3 Hear more of what they have to say here.