Degrees Of Sexuality: What It Means To Be Bisexual But Hetero-Amorous

by Lolly Spindler

We’ve all had those lightbulb moments, the times we’ve heard or read something and thought, “That describes me exactly.”

Maybe you hadn’t been able to put it in the right words yourself, but someone did it for you.

Those moments are incredibly illuminating as well as reassuring. You’re not the outcast; you’re not the only one who’s ever felt that way.

I’ve had several of these moments: when I realized what feminism was really about, when I read Jennifer Baumgardner’s "Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics" and when I learned I could be both bisexual and hetero-amorous.

“WTF is that?!” you might be wondering. Don’t worry; I was too. It sounds more like a topical ointment than a sexual and romantic identity.

Being bisexual is fairly self-explanatory. You’re attracted to both men and women.

Being bisexual and hetero-amorous means, although you’re sexually attracted to both sexes, you tend to fall in love with members of the opposite sex.

When I first read about this “lopsided” bisexuality (courtesy of Dan Savage, not surprisingly), I had an “aha” moment.

I had always been aware of my sexual attraction to women, but hesitant to act on it.

This was not only because of the social implications that keep so many from cartwheeling out of the closet, but because I didn’t know if I could give another woman what she wanted out of a relationship.

You heard right, all you straight male folk: Not even we ladies always know “what women want.”

My First Foray Into Bisexuality

My first attempt at dating a woman was as rocky as my first attempt at dating a man. It was clumsy and full of self-consciousness.

I am a very confident woman (and am proud to have gotten to where I am in regards to self-confidence), but that all seemed to go out the window when I took Samantha on our first date.

Actually attempting to date a woman proved much harder for me than just sleeping with her. Sex was the easy part.

Trying to figure out which role to adopt in a same-sex relationship? Incredibly difficult. My entire sense of self was shaken to the core.

That’s when I figured that maybe dating a woman wasn’t my forte.

Thanks, Dan Savage

A few years later, I came across the aforementioned blog post on Dan Savage’s site, The Stranger.

“Raising Awareness of ‘Lopsided’ Bisexuality During Bisexuality Visibility Week” shared the story of Charles M. Blow, an opinion columnist with the New York Times.

Blow's "lopsided" brand of bisexuality — romantically and sexually attracted to opposite-sex partners, only sexually attracted to same-sex partners — is common (particularly among bi men), but it is rarely discussed or acknowledged. It's not very visible.

No, it certainly isn’t. Which is why, despite my 26 years on earth and many discussions on gender and sexuality (I helped found a Women’s Center at my college for Christ’s sake!), I never even knew there was a term — err, terms — for how I truly identified.

Why is it important for this type of bisexuality to be visible? Because as the wise Dan Savage puts it:

"The constant and often smug framing of bisexuality as the capacity to be sexually and romantically attracted to both men and women equally excludes men like Blow, and makes it harder for men like him to accept themselves as bisexual. "Men, like Blow, walk around believing that they’re either not really bi or that they’re bi but defective or broken."

What I Hope This Means

I honestly think education can lead to freedom. The more people know about the varying degrees of sexuality out there, the freer they will be.

Who knows, maybe this “watered-down” version of bisexuality will mean more people will be comfortable identifying this way, helping put a face and a name to the varying degrees of sexual preference.

Who’s with me?