The best of both worlds?

Sex on Tuesday


It always ends up being the same conversation. I’ll say, “Oh yeah, I like women too. I’m bisexual.”  And then some smug, arrogant person who assumes to be an absolute authority on every single person’s sexuality will tell me “No you’re not. You’re just young and trying new things, and eventually you’ll settle down and put that all behind you.”

That’s when I feel like punching in faces and obliterating everything that person believes about his or her own sexuality. Who is anyone to tell me that the feelings I have for somebody I’m attracted to aren’t real?

Each time I tell someone I’m “bi,” there’s an inherent fear of being invalidated and then not being able to substantiate myself. When I am drawn to someone’s looks or personality, I don’t see a man or a woman. I just see an attractive person. People ask me all the time if, deep down, I have more of a preference for one or the other — and, honestly, I don’t. When it comes to loving somebody, gender is nothing but a social and physical constraint.

There’s a widespread refusal to extend acceptance and credibility to people who identify as bisexual. Bisexuality raises many issues concerning how sexuality is defined. In a society that heavily enforces heterosexuality as the norm, the fact that some people pursue relations with both genders is confounding and simply unbelievable. Why deviate if you can supposedly “choose” to be normal and straight?

The most common things bisexuals hear are “you’re just a straight person who wants attention” and “bisexuality is just a phase, and you’re only experimenting” and “bisexuals are just confused, and eventually they’ll come out straight or gay.”

According to James McCary’s “Human Sexuality,” sexual orientation can only be self-defined, if it must be defined at all. It is a part of a person’s identity that goes beyond who that person has sex with. It extends to an individual’s emotions, thoughts, hopes and dreams, and it seems politically incorrect to blatantly deny all of those components of someone’s identity.

Bisexuals are also accused of reaping heterosexual privileges and being accepted as part of mainstream society even while they carry homosexual feelings and tendencies. But this doesn’t consider the fact that being “part of the mainstream” denies bisexuals a meaningful part of themselves. Why would I want to deny the part of myself that loves being intimate with women for the rest of my life?

And if you’re not straight in our hetero-normative society, you can only be the complete opposite of straight, which is gay. This dualistic way of looking at sexuality is inaccurate, and it limits potential to realize the full extent of desire. Extending legitimacy to the fact that someone can be both straight and gay might threaten people’s own sense of their hetero- or homosexuality, which they take for granted as fixed. The fact that there are people who refuse to stay on just one of side of the straight-gay binary threatens heteronormative beliefs and the argument that sexuality is something one is innately born with.

It’s problematic to impose a rigid identity, because people are rarely just one thing throughout their entire lives. Bisexuals are neither completely straight nor completely gay, and there are lots of people who fall in between these three categories. There’s an entire spectrum of sexuality that society needs to recognize as valid.

This simply leads to the question of why sexuality requires clear labels. Is that person bisexual? Is this going to be a one-time thing during which one sees someone of the same-sex and then goes back to being normal? Does it really matter?

If society were genuinely accepting of all sexualities, people wouldn’t have to label their orientations because they would be free to be intimate with whomever they feel attracted to at whatever point in time. Occasionally, curiosity gets the best of us, and we wonder what it would be like to be with the person of the same gender. But we forcefully suppress such thoughts because it’s socially unacceptable.

My argument is not that being bisexual is the best way to live and that being completely hetero- or homosexual is invalid. But as a bisexual who has experienced stigma from both straight and gay parties, I think it’s important to respect the lifestyles of those who choose not to stick to just one side of the spectrum. Society should simply accept and give legitimacy to all sexual identities people choose to embrace rather than reluctantly doling out rights on the basis of inborn tendencies.

People say that being bisexual is like having “the best of both worlds,” as if each gender inhabits a completely separate world. Rather, it’s more like having the best of the entire world, and that’s something to which everybody is entitled.

Contact Nadia Cho at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter: @nadiiacho.

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  • Melultu

    We live in a society that heavily reinforces monosexuality as the norm, with heterosexuality in the more rural areas being given precedence. This is less about heterosexuals vs. everyone else then it is monosexuals vs. everyone else. The LG community has a vested political interest in reinforcing monosexuality as the norm as well, since they’ve spent the past decade claiming that being gay is genetic, despite any real evidence to support that assertion. The more valid argument, one based in human rights and freedom of conscience, was and is more difficult (it doesn’t have the glamour of science). So now they are stuck in the mire of winning politically, but undermining their movement ethically by marginalizing and discriminating against bisexuals and transgender/transsexual and other sexual minorities, or taking the more difficult route of accepting a setback in the fight for civil rights while they change to an argument that does not leave out half of the LGBT community. I’m guessing monosexual solidarity will win out, and the later path is not taken. Which will mean a hard road for all those who are not monosexual when it comes to such passive aggressive discrimination as the type you outline here in this article.

  • This: “That’s when I feel like … obliterating everything that person believes about his or her own sexuality.”

    Is, to many people, what you’re doing when you print this: “When it comes to loving somebody, gender is nothing but a social and physical constraint.”

    That is, making authoritative proclamations about another’s sexuality.

  • alum

    OK, so you like dicks and chicks…in the Bay Area, that’s not so bizarre.

  • BiCalAlum

    Thanks for writing this! As an alum, and as a bisexual woman, I appreciate your work here. Sorry to hear that you’ve experienced biphobia from gay and straight communities. Don’t give up — there is a vibrant bisexual community out there, filled with people who get you and feel the same way you do! (Also, we have bi-friendly allies in the monosexual communities. They definitely exist and have our backs, too…)

  • peepsqueek

    To Nadia,
    that was an excellent article describing your feelings on the subject. I want to talk about the line “Who is anyone to tell me that the feelings I have for somebody I’m attracted to aren’t real?” Your feelings are real. I have known people to fall in love with people who turn out to be despicable characters. The feeling are real, but they can over shadow good judgement. When you are young and hot, no one can tell you anything. It is like a drug, it feels to good to stop. The other line- “You’re just young and trying new things, and eventually you’ll settle down and put that all behind you.” That was the voice of hope and reason, because ideally, you will find someone worthy of your trust, love, friendship, and honesty, as it takes a life time to build a life, and you cannot build a life on the lust that comes natural to all of us. I have been married for a long time now, and the younger women in my neighborhood are very attractive. I place more value on my wife’s feelings and trust. That is what is meant by settling down and putting all that behind you.

    • xqp57n

      The issue being raised in the arctic centers around the fact that many see a married bisexual as “locked in” to the orientation that corresponds with their spouse. The article was not trying to say that marriage was impossible for bisexuals, nor was it trying to claim that marriage erases bisexuality.

  • Jonathan Kuo

    Wow this is such a bad article… because, like. Yeah. I said so. LOL jk. Hi Nadia. – Jon Kuo.

  • wut

    I’m just happy she wrote her first article in a while that has some semblance of taste.

  • Rely

    “And then some smug, arrogant person who assumes to be an absolute authority on every single person’s sexuality will tell me etc.” Did the person in the mirror tell you that Nadia? The pot calling the kettle black.

    • anonymous

      Did someone forget this is an opinion article?

  • Look at me

    I’m trisexual and I’m offended that you did not mention how society marginalizes us too. We get discriminated by str8s, gays, and bis. It’s so difficult being discriminated for something we have no control over. Well, at least we’re not one of those sicko quadrasexuals. How indecent, right?

    • Calipenguin

      Are you a homosexual hermaphrodite? How rude of Nadia to ignore your kind.

    • peepsqueek

      When you have children, hopefully you will not embarrass them. You may not have control over your feelings, but you do have control over your actions. I carry a gun, that does not mean I have to take a shot at someone who cuts me off on the freeway, even though my true feelings are telling me to teach this guy a lesson. Rapists and child molesters always claim they have no control over their feelings, that is why we have to keep them in prison.

  • Calipenguin

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly. I fully support your quest for acceptance. Homosexuals seeking political power can be just as intolerant as conservatives, and I as a conservative encourage you to stand your ground. Many kids are taught that one is either born gay or straight, so it’s about time a brave bisexual like yourself spreads the truth about the spectrum of sexual orientation.

  • Current student

    is everyone column this semester going to be about Nadia’s bisexuality? There are no other topics for a sex column at all ??

    Nadia, you must be the most self-centered and egomaniacal SOT columnist ever. It’s all about you!

    • I_h8_disqus

      Wouldn’t it make sense for her first articles if not all of them to be about topics she is familiar with? We really don’t need her opinion on areas of sexuality that she doesn’t have a clue about.


      Terribly sorry, but NOBODY can top the ego of that horrible wench Kia from last semester. She was just simply awful in every way.

  • Superman

    Great article !!!
    I agree 100% with the author, and basically, it all comes down to: Live and let live.
    Sexuality is not in black and white, there are many grays in between, and there is no right or wrong. Live and enjoy your life the way you feel it. And respect the way others do so.

    • I_h8_disqus

      In the large psychological world of people’s sexuality, it is probably not wise to say there is not right or wrong. If Nadia was to start talking about her sexual attraction to certain things, we should all recognize it as wrong.

      • I_h8_disqus

        I guess the down votes are coming from the pedophiles or bestiality fans who follow Sex on Tuesdays.

        • Calipenguin

          Or maybe shocked Asian parents from Orange County who can’t believe Nadia is for real.

    • peepsqueek

      You can live and let live, no me. I don’t want some man lusting after my me, my wife, my son, or my daughter. It is the nature of a man to want to protect the behinds of his family members from the selfish sexual intent of others without regard to anyone else’s psychological and physical well being.

  • Stan De San Diego

    The ongoing blathering of an attention-starved child, repeating the politically correct talking points of the day.

    • Calipenguin

      What Nadia says is not politically correct, which is why I love her message. Let the homosexual lobby deal with it, I say.