It seems that there has been some discussion over the question of whether bisexuality exists. Some time after the terms heterosexual and homosexual were first introduced into the vernacular, people began to debate whether or not there is a third orientation which encompasses aspects of both. The term bisexual was coined and has been used ever since. Initially, it was thought that bisexuality was a 50/50 split, meaning that bisexuals were equally attracted to the opposite sex and people of the same sex. Kinsey dispelled that notion after extensive research and came up with the idea of a continuum where most of the subjects he interviewed fell somewhere on either end rather than dead center. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Alfred Kinsey conducted his research on college students at the university where he taught Biology. The study focused on sexual behaviors of both male and female students. He discovered that many of his subjects were sexually active with multiple partners of both sexes. Some reported having had exclusively heterosexual encounters; some were exclusively homosexual, while still others had engaged in sexual activity with both males and females. Kinsey then realized that most of those who reported having had sex with both same and opposite sex partners did so with varying degrees of difference. He developed a scale which measured, quite crudely in retrospect, a tool consisting of a seven-point linear scale. The tool, later termed the Kinsey Scale, placed respondents from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 7 (exclusively homosexual), with the number 3 as the mid-point. The subjects chose their point on the scale based on their self-identified sexuality. Though crude by today’s standards, it was revolutionary for its time. However, the scale measured only the respondents’ self-identity at that point in their young lives, due to its limited nature. Furthermore, it measured behavior rather than attraction, fantasy and potential for future sexual behaviors. Subsequently, researchers who were interested in expanding the parameters of the Kinsey seven-point scale developed other tools which measure sexuality based on a wider variety of criteria. Dr. Fritz Klein, for example, constructed The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid which incorporates a greater number of variables into its design. The grid covers sexual attraction, behaviors and fantasies as well as emotional and sexual preferences during the past, up to the present and what the subject’s ideal situation might represent. In his book “What is Bisexuality?” Klein “offers a discussion and study of bisexual intimacy, beginning with the differences in between sexual and emotional intimacy, and the connection between intimacy and hetero- and homophobia, including a profile of a heterosexual male who is able to be emotionally intimate with men.” He further explores what has become known as “The Threat” by discussing the reality that many homosexuals and heterosexuals view the bisexual as a “threat” and goes on to discuss the myth of the “non existence” of bisexuals still held by many in society and the sense of “either/or”. This is why it is important to understand the debate and how bisexuality has become a source of controversy among so many who identify as Gay, Straight, Bisexual or something else.
Anyone interested in how this debate plays out in society should check out the research, look at social media and get a conversation going within their peer groups. Considering that this is Bisexuality Awareness week, starting a few days ago with Bisexuality visibility day, it seems like a good time to start. I have discovered that controversial topics have the greatest potential for an increase of information and education but also contain the negative possibilities of hostility and hidden agendas. Greater risks often lead to greater rewards. Therefore, the individual needs to weigh the importance of a particular issue to him or herself before starting or entering into a discussion. Freedom of choice is the key. Just putting this out there for all my readers as part of our monthly conversation. Thanks to all of you loyal followers and welcome to anyone visiting here for the first time. Remember, if you like what you see here, you can go back to previous blogs and check out what we’ve covered in the past.