“All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.” Milan Kundera
With the kickoff of Gay Pride weekend, sexual orientation is something that may be on the minds of many here in Pittsburgh. Particularly I would like to examine the nature of bisexuality, as some may call it, “one foot in/one foot out” or as other scholars may tend to think, a more realistic reflection of the nature of sexual attraction? We all can recall the intonations of female pop singers who declare “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” Thank you Katy Perry, but it seems you aren’t the only one! No discussion of sexual behavior can begin without the mention of Mr. Alfred Kinsey, of whom some of the more savvy readers or psychologically studied may already be quite familiar. The 1948-52 benchmark study which examined things such as subject’s sexual behavior and sexual attraction. Findings conclude that 10% of the population is admittedly homosexual with as many as 33-46% exhibiting some bisexual tendencies. Interestingly the outliers are those who note complete homo or heterosexuality, according to Alfred Kinsey’s renowned study, Bisexual thought and feeling is more normative than entirely homo or hetero orientation. (Kinsey, 1948) Given these statistics, for what reason does the bisexual orientation hold a precarious position within the thoughts of both hetero and homosexual lexicons, in fact more recently some are seeking to oust bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation.
In working with psychotherapy clients in my private practice, I have had many clients “come out” as bisexual, I am often one of the only people with whom an individual has shared such news. In addition to exploring this with the client, there may often be an internally stigmatizing effects for what had formerly been “a secret.” Could easily enter into a litany concerning how important it is to promote openness regarding a human’s ability to be whatever it is that we may be, along the colorful spectrum of plausible identities and modes of being. Yet there is sometimes an understandable kernel of shame for some men and women regarding their own exploration of same sex behavior, this may be particularly true for those who now report being heterosexual but have had a homosexual experience within sexual exploration in years past.
It is important to draw a distinction between sexual attraction, sexual behavior or contact, sexual identity. In more recent studies, according to the Kinsey institute “Data collected from a national sample of 13,495 men and women between 2006 and 2008. The study attempted to differentiate between sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as homosexual ranged from 2% to 4% of males, and about 1% to 2% of females. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as bisexual is between 1% and 3% of males, and 2% to 5% of females. About 4%–6% of males ever had same-sex contact. For females, the percentage who have ever had same-sex contact ranges from about 4% in the GSS, to 11%–12% in the 2002 and 2006–2008 NSFG.”
In working with Bisexual clients it is a trend where some individuals report having experienced criticism from hetero or homo sexual long term partners for having participated in same sex relationships in the past. Simultaneously, some men and women report that they have been emotionally injured by jealous accusations wondering if they are able to have plutonic friendships with same sex acquaintances. There seems to be something about bisexuality which encourages some to presume that with the declaration of this sexual orientation one suddenly has become an insatiable sex addict rather than an open and explorative human. Yet, this is in startling contrast to Kinsey’s work which proclaims there are many bisexual men and women in the population. Once again, I wonder at the gap which exists between the reportedly significant number of bisexually oriented number of men and woman in the greater population. Stigmatizing effects may be greater for men than woman as there is a cultural phenomenon which seems to allow for women to be more intimate in their interactions with other women, perhaps remnants from the mother being the earlier caregiver and expected to be physically nurturing. Males may have an idea that their sexuality is less malleable as men one average relate in a contrasting way compared to women, despite the multitude of ways that this may be injurious to both genders.
What does all of this mean, well the take away point is that bisexuality is a valid orientation. Sexual orientation is in fact a malleable proffering yet we must as a culture, a city, be mindful of how much pride is afforded for those who exercise sexual, sensual, and loving freedom of being. How much shame can we turn towards bold and loving glory? In sharing peace, and love for what has been a benchmark year in Pennsylvania with the granting of marriage equality for ALL LOVERS TO UNITE becoming husband and husband and wife and wife! What a glorious opportunity and brightening of the future for all! If you would like to celebrate this weekend journey out and show your support for equal rights and equal love, check out this link which will lead you to the extensive list of Pittsburgh Pride events! http://www.pittsburghpride.org/
In loving equality,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., and Martin, C. (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders. Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., Martin, C., and Gebhard, P. (1953). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.