“Everyone is bisexual these days!” “Is everyone bisexual???” “We’re all bisexual!”
As more and more people take to social media and text to share their (bi)sexuality, these sayings are becoming commonplace. Heck, maybe you’ve even uttered one when yet another pop star or pal, family member, or foe came out as bisexual.
But is everyone bisexual? Ahead, bisexuality experts and activists answer this question. They also explain why these one-liners — even when they come from a good place — can be problematic.
No, not everyone is bisexual.
Everyone is not any other sexual orientation or label, either.
Each person has their own unique experience of their sexuality, and each person likes a different label or set of labels for putting their sexuality and sexual orientation into words. (Some people even prefer no label at all).
Different bisexual people have different definitions of bisexual that they like. But one that many people lean on these days comes from bisexual activist Robyn Ochs, editor of the anthology “Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World and Recognize.”
To summarize: People who are bisexual have the potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.
Bisexual activist Jen Winston, author of “Greedy: Notes From A Bisexual Who Wants Too Much,” says this definition is so favored among many bisexual people today because it’s nuanced and leaves space for fluidity.
It also includes people across the gender spectrum — not just men and women. “It doesn’t reinforce the gender binary,” they explain, which unfortunately is something that some older definitions of bisexuality do. Sigh.
Recent reports on sexuality show that more people are bisexual today than just 5 years ago!
Need proof? Compare the survey results investigating what percent of American adults are LGBT in 2017 to 2021.
A 2017 Gallup survey of 340,604 Americans over the age of 18 found that 4.5% of adults identified as LGBT. The findings don’t specify what percent of those folks are bisexual.
Fast forward to 2021 and a survey by the same researchers found that 7.1 percent of all U.S. adults identify as LGBT.
Of the people who reported being LGBT, more than half (57 percent) are bisexual. In other words, 4% of all U.S. adults identified as bisexual in 2021.
What’s particularly noteworthy is how popular the bisexual label is amongst millennial and gen Z adults.
Overall, 6% of millennials and 15% of Gen Z adults in the U.S. reported being bisexual. For comparison, just 1.7 percent of gen X and 0.7 percent of baby boomers reported being bisexual.
“Most research doesn’t have the ability to determine WHY,” says Zachary Zane, a bisexual sex columnist and sex expert for P.S. Condoms. After all, the reasons someone might be and/or identify as bisexual are usually more nuanced or personal than studies have room for!
Still, bisexual experts and activists have some hypotheses.
According to Winston, it could be because younger generations are more aware than their predecessors. “Younger generations have a better bullsh*t detector for the unjust colonial ideas that shape our world,” they say.
“They recognize that most binaries present a choice between two arbitrary options that they never got to select in the first place,” explains Winston. “They know gender is a social construct, as is, by the same coin, sexuality — ‘gay or straight’ is a false dichotomy and a thing of the past.”
Zane adds, “we’re also likely seeing more folks identify as bi because there has been an increase in bi visibility.”
Indeed, we’re seeing record numbers of bi characters on the big screen. In 2021, GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, reported that about 9% of series regular characters on TV were LGBTQ.
Of all LGBTQ characters on TV in the 2020-21 season, 28% were bisexual, which is a 2% increase from the previous year.
“The increase in representation has likely led more people to feel comfortable exploring their attractions to multiple genders,” says Zane. “More people also feel more comfortable identifying as bi.”
Further, while homophobia is still rampant, we are seeing slightly less legal and structural homophobia than we had previously, notes Zane.
As one report from the University of British Columbia puts it, “It’s getting better for trans, bisexual and gay youth – but there’s still room to improve.”
There are several reasons why someone might use the label bisexual. For example:
- It’s the label that fits better than any other
- It feels comfortable, like home
- It connects you to a specific portion of the queer community
- It gives you a feeling of congeniality
“The notion that ‘everyone’ is bisexual is a form of bi erasure,” explains Winston.
A pervasive problem faced by bi folks, bisexual erasure occurs when the lived experiences and realities of bisexual people are questioned or denied outright.
Phrases like “well, isn’t everyone bisexual?” and “everyone is bisexual!” suggest that being bisexual isn’t worthy of talking about, she says.
The phrase invalidates the experience of many bisexual folks who very much feel like their bisexuality — and the joys and complications that it brings their life — is worth talking about. (To be clear, it’s absolutely worth talking about!).
“The perpetuation of the idea that bisexuality isn’t a big enough deal to be talked about is one of the reasons some people don’t come out,” they add.
Worse, it can lead people to hide any biphobia, homophobia, or queermesia they might face in their personal or professional life due to their sexuality.
For so many reasons!
But it ultimately comes down to this: Because of things like bi-erasure, bi-invisibility, and biphobia, bisexual folks have poorer mental and physical health and health outcomes compared to monosexual folks.
And if we as a society aren’t talking about bisexuality, then we’re not talking about (or addressing!) these disparities.
What are these disparities, exactly?
For starters, “bi folks have higher rates of depression and anxiety and are at a higher risk for suicide than gay and lesbian people,” says Zane.
“The mental health disparities are due to the fact that many bi people don’t feel accepted by either gay or straight communities,” adds Zane. This is often referred to as “double discrimination.”
He says that as a result, many bi folks feel isolated and alone, which lends itself to worsened mental well-being.
Bi people don’t just experience higher rates of mental health issues compared to straight folks, notes Zane. They also experience more physical health concerns when compared to their straight counterparts.
According to a Human Rights Campaign report, compared to straight folks, bisexual individuals are more likely to have high rates of cholesterol, have asthma, and drink or smoke.
Bisexual women, in particular, face significant health disparities when compared with the general population of women, including:
- higher rates of breast cancer and all cancers than the general population of women
- higher rates of heart disease than heterosexual women
- higher rates of obesity than heterosexual women
Being bisexual does not mean you’re automatically doomed to poor health! But it does mean that finding a queer-affirming, culturally competent healthcare professional is in your best interest.
If everyone has a different sexual orientation, that means figuring out your own may be more difficult than figuring out what everyone else is doing!
Ahead, some signs you may be bisexual.
1. You think you are!
“If you think you’re bisexual, there’s a good chance you are,” says Winston.
2. You say you are!
There are no prerequisites for being bisexual! “You don’t have to have had a sexual or romantic experience with anyone of any gender to intrinsically know or understand that you are bisexual,” says Winston.
The only thing you need to be bisexual is to say, “I am bisexual.” So, if that’s a phrase you’ve recently thought to yourself or uttered aloud, you may be bisexual.
3. You think everyone is bisexual
“Not everyone is bisexual,” says Zane. “But usually if someone believes that everyone is bisexual, they are bisexual,” he says.
Or, at the very least, are bi-curious.
4. You want to go on dates with people across the gender spectrum
Or have sex with them! Or smooch them! Or snuggle them!
“The key to figuring out which label works best for you is to explore, sexually and romantically, without feeling like you have to pick a label,” says Zane.
Remember: Your behaviors don’t dictate your sexual identity. You do.
So, if you go on a dinner or sex date with someone of a similar gender than you, and don’t like it, that’s OK. You can still use your previous sexuality label, he says. Hell, you can use whatever label you want even if you do like it!
More people may identify as bisexual, but that doesn’t mean everyone is bisexual!
Although it’s typically said in jest, asking if everyone is bisexual actually functions as a form of bisexual erasure because it suggests that being bi isn’t worth talking about.
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.