Biphobia and the queer community

Here is a brief primer on Biphobia.

I’m primarily interested in assessing how prominent this problem is in the Lesbian community as opposed to the gay male community.

I’ve had the impression that is a larger issue amongst lesbians. This impression is only based on anecdotal evidence from a limited sample. I’m well aware of this so I hope people can offer insight in a friendly manner.
I’m interested in seeing a discussion on if that is true and if so, why.

I’m guessing that biphobia is more prominent in the lesbian community than the gay male community because there is a larger number of self-identified bi women than self-identified bi men. Personally, I think it’s great that people are opening themselves up to things that they might have thought were wrong before, but I can’t help but notice a trend. There are a lot of self-identified bisexual women who are sexually attracted to women, but won’t have relationships with them. I realize that it’s easier in much of the world to be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and I think that’s why lesbians are “afraid”, and what is a phobia but fear. I don’t really have substantial info to say what other reasons the gay male community might have for biphobia.

What’s the big deal about bisexuals anyway? They seem to have it the roughest. I mean, I can see how homophobes would get down on them - but wouldn’t the gay community be more understanding and tolerant of someone’s sexual orientation?

At least some lesbians are biphobic because they’re androphobic, or at least misandrist. Because of their negative attitudes about men, these women do not trust any woman who would consent to have sex with a man. Another attitude that commonly attains is that bisexual woman aren’t “lesbian enough” or aren’t “truly committed” to being a lesbian. While I do not believe that the holders of these attitudes represent a majority, or even a sizable minority, of lesbians, they are a substantial portion of the vocal and obvious lesbian community. Keep also in mind that not all lesbians are part of the “lesbian community”.

For some women, I think being a lesbian is more of a political statement than a statement about who you sleep with. These people seem to view lesbianism as the obvious consequence of radical feminism, and hold in contempt those women who have not yet come to recognize the “truth” of their beliefs; this would include bisexuals as well as straights.

I know lots of formerly straight gals who became bisexual as a political/feminist decision, because they wanted to be able to have relationships with women on a deeper level. I don’t think these are the women that those lesbians are resentful of as much as those teenybopping women who hinder women who are interested in relationships with women by asking them to have sex so their straight male SO can watch. :rolleyes:

Though misandry does run in the lesbian community, and a lot of women who choose men for life partners are even called “sellouts.” Once again, :rolleyes:

There is the entire issue with LUGs (“lesbian until graduation”) and the ill feeling that many lesbians have towards these young women who seem mainly to use their girlfriends as a way to manipulate the men that they’re really after.

I don’t understand becoming bisexual (or lesbian) as a political decision. I’m a lesbian because it’s who I am and to deny that would be painful and stupid. It’s not something I could change even if I wanted to. So I suppose there is something of a feeling that such “bisexual” women are "just faking it " in order to get acceptance, or some similar thing.

It’s definitely not difficult to condition oneself to be sexually attracted to women in this society, even if you weren’t born that way. I guess that’s why there aren’t that many male bisexuals who became it, so I don’t doubt it when men say they’re bi, though I hold some speculation when some women say it, and unfortunately/unfairly so, I admit.

I was under the impression that LUG was only a term in use at Smith College.

Is it used anywhere else?

transitionality, the term is in general use throughout the country these days.

Effy, if it’s so easy to condition oneself to be sexually attracted to women, why do so many gay men refuse to do so, or fail when they try? I fear you may be overgeneralizing when you say that.

I personally believe that in order to “condition oneself to be sexually attracted to women” you must have been at least somewhat gynophilic to begin with, and that there are a lot of women and quite a few men who lack even this minimal level of gynophilia to ever be sexually attracted to another woman. I also believe the correlative statement with regard to androphilia.

I’ve never had a meaningful sexual relationship with a man despite having tried. I had one boyfriend who I was good friends with, but there was no sexual spark, despite having tried. I don’t think I could bring myself to have a sexual relationship with a man under any circumstance. This is why I’m a lesbian, and not a bisexual. In a bisexual, the potential exists (whether or not actualized), and that’s what differentiates the two.

I personally expect that there are a lot more bisexuals out there than we admit, but that most of them have simply never explored, or not explored very deeply, the full scope of their sexual interests and thus do not identify as bisexual.

I would loooove to see everyone stop second-guessing everyone else’s sexual identity. Does my uncle currently sleep with nobody, but used to sleep with men, and long ago used to sleep with women? Did my ex-girlfriend leave me for an older woman, stay with her four years through college, leave her for her male next-door neighbor, and is now married to a man? Did another ex-girlfriend sleep with two of her housemates (one male, one female), and get involved with me despite planning on having her next relationship with a woman?

Whose business is it? If someone wants their own sexuality to be a political statement, more power to them – but they’ve got no right to tell my uncle or either of my exes that their own sexuality is a political statement.

Some people have more fluid sexual preferences than others. It is obnoxious to deny that; it is obnoxious to criticize a person’s sexual preference, as long as it stays within the realm of Consenting Adults.


Back in the '80s I would have said that this is far more true than it had a right to be. After the 90’s I think the lesbian community post Queer Nation/ACT-UP/Lesbian Avengers/Transgender Menace has changed in some significant ways and are far more accepting of bisexual women in particular and the fluidity of sexual identity in general. At least among the lesbians I know the “fencesitters/traitors” arguments get huge eye-rolls.

That being said, I hear a lot of “well, I wouldn’t date one, who wants to be left for a man?” kind of statements in the background, as if we’re being horribly generous to accept them as friends and allies, but you wouldn’t want your daughter dating one. I’ve dated lesbians and bisexual women, they’re all equally capable of loving you madly or breaking your heart. It depends on the PERSON, people, NOT their sexual orientation.

Anyway, to sum up, I see lesbian attitudes toward bi-women changing, if ever so slowly, I hope it keeps changing, and in the meantime, I plan on educating every sister neanderthal I meet.

I think this is a big part of it.

There are plenty of young women of college, or even high school, age who use the term “bisexual” pretty casually. It can mean anything from “I am sexually and romantically attracted to both men and women” to “Once I kissed my best friend…at a party…when we were both drunk…and our boyfriends asked us to.” Women in the latter category are not women who other women want to get involved with, but sadly there are plenty of genuine young lesbian and bisexual women who have been burned by people like that.

I’m not sure you’re right here – or if you’re right, that it’s relevant. If a woman kisses her best friend at a party because she was drunk and their boyfriends urged them on, it looks to me as if there’s two questions to ask:

  1. Was everyone involved okay with what happened (i.e., didn’t feel pressured into the situation)?
  2. Were you one of the people involved?

If the first answer is yes and the second is no, then it’s not your business, and it’s not appropriate to pass judgement on these women (or, for that matter, on their boyfriends). I don’t understand either the value of suggesting that they’re not “genuine” bisexuals: if they self-identify as bi, that’s really all you need to know.

It’s true that a bisexual woman who’s looking for a serious, committed relationship probably ought not look for it with the drunk-party-kisser, true. But that’s just how relationships work. The drunk-party-kisser would be well-advised not to look for a good smooch from the serious-relationship-seeker, either: they’d be looking for different things, and that’s a recipe for disaster. Similarly, a straight guy looking for a long-term relationsihp would do well to avoid hooking up with the first woman he meets at a rave, and the party girl looking for a one-night-stand at the local Catholic church may be barking up the wrong tree (not being acquainted with Catholic churches, I may be wrong).


Good points. I agree with you, but I do think that at least part of our sexualities is conditioned, even though overall we lean one way or the other. How society behaves toward your orientation would affect the way you choose to express it. I think it’s just that women in general are not really taught to pay attention to their sexuality as much as they are the prospect of relationships, whereas it’s the opposite with men. So it’s easier for women to choose to be in the middle, whereas men are usually taught that it’s one way or the other. Huge generalizations, but this is just what I think happens generally.

DanielWithrow, you bring up some good points. I’m not really sure how to answer your question of whose business it is, other than that some [asshole-ish] men seriously do think that every lesbian just needs a good dick, or that ‘lesbians’ are just there for their entertainment, not to love each other, and the kind of behavior in the example of the drunk party kinda promotes that idea.

Gahh!! Sorry everyone for the eyesore.

Sadly, minorities really don’t understand or tolerate other minorities because they feel like they share a bond. For example, a couple of months ago in Brooklyn, a black Christian man went on a racial killing spree of Middle Easterners/South Asians, saying he was influenced by the Bible.

I’m not going to participate in this thread anymore (I already have a lot of posts, heh), but I apologize if my comments upset anyone, and I’m looking forward to reading other people’s views. POST, people, POST!! My viewpoints on some subjects change a lot, and this is one of them.

It’s all I need to know if I have no intention of ever becoming involved with her. But if I had any hopes of that, it would make a big difference to me whether or not someone who claimed to be bisexual was actually capable of feeling romantically/sexually attracted to people of both sexes. If someone is publicly saying “I’m bisexual” when they really mean “If I’ve had enough to drink I might be willing to kiss another girl even though I wasn’t attracted to her at all, just because it might get me some attention from the guy I really care about” then they are being misleading. What people do in their personal lives and what they call themselves is largely none of my concern, but I think people should do their best to avoid misleading others – especially when it comes to love, sex, and dating.

And that is the problem some lesbians have with bisexual women…they aren’t sure whether they can trust that a woman who says she’s bisexual isn’t really just a heterosexual who hope that men will find her more interesting if she claims to be bi. The sad result of this is that when some lesbians hear “I’m bisexual” they take it to mean “I’m a cheap, lying slut who will use you to make a man jealous and/or get him horny and then drop you like a ton of bricks”. This is completely unfair to the majority of self-identified bisexual women, but some people tend to overgeneralize from bad past experiences.

Speaking as someone involved in the gay male community, I certainly don’t see a whole lot of flak given to self-identified bisexuals. Yeah there’s a wee bit of fear about being left for a woman, but honestly its really treated the same as being gay in the groups I run with. Maybe its just my area, but most queer folk don’t seem to care.

I think most lesbians don’t much care either, except perhaps for the same fear that a bisexual woman might just up and leave ya for a man 'cause it’ll be easier for her that way. I’ve only noticed real bad feelings towards bisexual women in either 1) young lesbians who’ve been hurt by bisexual women or women pretending to be bisexual or 2) older lesbians with old-fashioned views (there’s no such thing as bisexuals, any woman who’d sleep with a man is a traitor, that sort of thing).

Fair enough – and I guess I’ve not really had any experiences with women like that. I’ve known women who were mostly straight but who fooled around with women on a lark; as long as they’re not the subject of approprium, then I think you’re right. Misleading someone, manipulating someone, is a bad thing to do.

Interestingly, the first gay man I knew (besides my uncle) was a wonderful guy who when I met him was shepherding his partner through the final stages of AIDS. He was a very interesting, very wise man; I really enjoyed his friendship. But I lost touch with him for a few years; when I next talked with him, he shamefacedly admitted to me that he had fallen in love with a woman. Although I’d never heard him do it, apparently he used to rant viciously against “bisexuals”, thinking that they were self-deluding people who wouldn’t own up to their real sexuality. He had a real deer-in-the-headlights look about him when I talked with him.

It stuck with me; until then, I hadn’t really considered that people’s sexuality could change.

But yeah, I see what you’re saying, Lamia: if someone claims to be attracted to a person simply in order to manipulate someone else, that’s icky. And if a significant number of women are doing that by falsely claiming to be attracted to women, that’s like a whole icky genre.