December 21st, 2002

On Transitional Sexual Identities

This post was partly inspired by my previous post, a letter to the UPEI Rainbow Society in whcih I explained I wasn't interested in participating in my future alma mater's GLBT society for a number of reasons, including a casual dismissal of bisexuality as anything but a transitional stage.

It's fairly obvious to everyone--certainly to everyone on my friends list--that bisexuality isn't by definition a transitional stage, not least because "bisexual" as a category includes quite a few different definitions. According to some, one might fall into the category of bisexual if they fall into the category of Kinsey 3; myself, I use the definition of bisexual in the FAQ, which places anyone who falls between Kinsey 1 and Kinsey 5 in the category of bisexual. There's also a variety of self-imposed definitions: One could presumably self-identify as bisexual even without engaging in homosexual (or heterosexual) behaviour. (Perhaps because, as I suggested in my economic model, even assuming that one was equally attracted to both sexes one might find it easier to estabnlish relationships with the one rather than the other.)

There is also a subcategory of definitions which don't bother to examine one's innate desires but focus only on one's behaviour, of varying chronological depth. Presumably bisexuality as a transitional stage would fall here. Let's examine this: Presumably, a transitional bisexual identity en route to becoming either straight or gay would be the product of pressure to maintain sexual relationships with people of the gender to which you're not attracted. (Given that I can't imagine any situation where a meaningful number of straight people would be pressures to become gay, we can assume that the pressure is being asserted by a heterosexual society upon people who are entirely homosexual by innate inclination.)

It's impossible to get rid of bisexuality as a transitional stage, and not only because it's impossible for anyone to have perfect knowledge about themselves, sexually or otherwise. The historical legacy of pre-modern and modern attitudes towards sexuality simply can't be overcome entirely; they influence people to this day, and perhaps inevitably so since it's impossible to have any kind of meaningful (to say nothing of enjoyable) human identity without reference to culture and other people.

Moreover, what's wrong with transitional stages? You can assume that all people who identify themselves as gay lack any sexual interest with women, and that for these people sexual relations with people of the opposite gender are not only unnatural but impossible to enjoy. You'd also be rather spectacularly wrong. The people I know who've gone through a transition stage of bisexuality did, in fact, like women, and didn't regret their heterosexual relationships, they just found relationships with their own sex to be more profitable, in one way or another. It's hardly wrong to experiment to discover this; it's certainly not intellectually dishonest, as was implied in the conversation I referred to in my previous post..

So, what's wrong with bisexuality as a transitional stage, then? (Or heterosexuality or homosexuality, though these can't quite qualify as transitional stages in the same way as bisexuality.)