Bi (orientation)

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Bisexual
Bisexual.png

Orientation: Any
Prefix: Bi-
Main Umbrella: Mspec
GxG Format: ?xM/F | ?x#/! | ?x2+

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Bi is an orientation prefix with multiple definitions including:

Originally bisexual only encompassed the attraction to men and women. However, the bisexual community has extensively challenged the gender binary, resulting in the bi label later encompassing the attraction to more than the two binary genders, despite the prefix bi meaning two or twice.[5][6]

History

Ancient Greek religious texts, which reflected cultural practices, had bisexual themes throughout. Ancient Greece is generally considered to have been largely accepting of queer individuals, albeit with different standards of morality. Same sex relationships between boys and men were common and considered a part of life and learning, although it was expected that men would have relationships with women to procreate as they grew older.[7]

In Ancient China and Japan, homosexuality and bisexuality was also documented, both men who had sex with men, and women who had sex with women. There were even ancient Japanese art prints, called shunga, which depicted homosexual relationships in full detail. Ancient China had similar artwork, which even at times depicted polyamory.[8]

As well as being seen in humans, bisexuality has also been observed in various animals.[9]

Kinsey Scale

According to zoologist Alfred Kinsey's research in the mid-1940s, most individuals are not exclusively heterosexual or homosexual.[10] The Kinsey scale measures sexual attraction and behavior on a seven-point scale ranging from 0 ("exclusively heterosexual") to 6 ("exclusively homosexual"). It was found that most of us fall somewhere in the 1-5 category and are believed to have "varying bisexual responses". However, those who rank anywhere between 2-4 are most likely to be recognized as bisexual, as they are often not one extreme or the other.

The psychologist Jim McKnight was one of the first to write that the idea of bisexuality is a form of sexual orientation, as suggested implicit in the Kinsey scale, which he cites often in his work.citation needed However, despite McKnight and Kinsey's work on human sexuality, this conception of bisexuality has been severely challenged since the work Homosexualities (c. 1978) was published by Weinberg and his psychologist colleague Alan P. Bell.[11]

Origin of the term

The first English-language use of the word bisexual referring to sexual orientation was by the American neurologist Charles Gilbert Chaddock in his 1892 translation of Psychopathia Sexualis, a seminal work created by Krafft-Ebing.[12] Psychopathia Sexualis concerned itself with the pathologisation of sexuality and considered homosexuality a mental illness; bisexual therefore referred to those who were both heterosexual and homosexual. Prior to this, the word bisexual was used in reference to plants, suggesting that species were hermaphroditic or intersex.[13]

Openly bisexual individuals in early history

The first openly bisexual individuals in history were rare in early American life. Some examples of this include poet Walt Whitman[14], who has been described as both bisexual and homosexual in his feelings and attractions. In the early 20th century, during the Harlem Renaissance, blues singers Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were open about their relationships with men and women.[15] Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was also openly bisexual.[16]

Content Warning: Biphobia

Biphobia and bi erasure (the practice of obscuring or denying a bisexual individual's orientation in favor of portraying them as either gay/lesbian or straight) remain common, and despite efforts from bisexual activists the cisheteronormative perception of the gender binary continues to affect how bisexuals are perceived, in particular attempting to enforce the gender binary on the sexuality despite its defiance of the concept. Bisexual visibility and awareness have, however, been increasing in recent years.[5]

Related Terms

Label Relationship Description Difference
Bin- Similar Attraction to men and women. Bi can be attraction to any two genders.
Di- Similar Attraction to only two genders. Bi can be attraction to more than two genders.
Omni- Similar Attraction to all genders. Bi doesn't always encompass attraction to all genders.
Pan- Similar Attraction to all genders. Pan rejects attraction to gender constructs.
Poly- Similar Attraction to many genders. Bi can encompass attraction to all genders.

Orientations

Label Orientation Flag Creator(s)
Biaesthetic Aesthetic [17]


[18]

arco-pluris, DistinctiveSoy
Bialterous Alterous [19] Raleigh
Biplatonic Platonic Biplatonic.png[20] Ap
Biqueerplatonic Queerplatonic Biqueerplatonic.png[21] Mod Hermy
Biromantic Romantic Biromantic.png[22] Unknown
Bisensual Sensual Bisensual2.jpg[23] Pride-Flags
Bisexual Sexual Bisexual.png[24] Michael Page


Prefixes and Suffixes

Label Prefix / Suffix Flag Description Creator(s)
Bambi Bi / Squirrel Bi Bambi BambiBisexual.jpg[25] A bi individual who prefers cuddles, hugs, kisses, and other affectionate and even sensual non-sexual acts over sexual acts.[26][27][25] ryanyflags, Unknown
Biflux -Flux Biflux.png[28] Being attracted to two or more genders, and that attraction fluctuates for certain genders between strong and weak attraction.[28] pride-flags-for-us

Flags and Symbols

The bisexual pride flag was designed by a team led by LGBT activist Michael Page in 1998.[29] The flag was created in order to give the bisexual community its own symbol which was easily recognized and comparable to the gay pride flag (rainbow flag) that represented the larger LGBT community. Page's aim was to increase the visibility of bisexuals, both among society as a whole, and within the LGBT community.

Page took the colors of the bisexual pride flag from an existing bisexual symbol, the biangles. The biangles, or bisexuality triangles, are another symbol for the bisexual community. The symbol has unclear origins, although it is most likely based off of the pink triangle, another symbol for the gay community in specifics. Pink represents same sex attraction (gay and lesbian). Blue represents attraction to the opposite sex (straight). They overlap to create the color purple, representing the attraction to both sexes. Page also describes the flag's meaning in deeper terms, stating: "...the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the real world, where bisexuals blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities." The colors of the bisexual flag are often incorrectly reinterpreted to represent attraction to women (pink), men (blue), and non-binary individuals (purple).[30]

Other symbols used by the bisexual community involve the bisexual crescents (a pair of back-to-back crescents) and the bisexual symbol, an infinity symbol featuring the female (Venus) and male (Mars) symbols as well as a blank circle for the genders and attractions between.[30]

Further Reading

Resources

  1. "Sexual Orientation". American Psychiatric Association, https://web.archive.org/web/20110726144306/http://healthyminds.org/More-Info-For/GayLesbianBisexuals.aspx. Archived on 26 Jul. 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BISEXUAL AND PANSEXUAL?". Minus18, 23 Feb, 2023, https://www.minus18.org.au/articles/what's-the-difference-between-bisexual-and-pansexual.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "bisexual". Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bisexual. Accessed on 7 May, 2024.
  4. "Understanding Bisexuality". American Psychological Association, 2017, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/bisexual.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Berg, Alex. "The evolution of the word 'bisexual' — and why it's still misunderstood". NBC News, Sep 24. 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/evolution-word-bisexual-why-it-s-still-misunderstood-n1240832.
  6. "Bi". Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bi. Accessed on 19 Dec. 2022.
  7. Cantarella, Eva. Bisexuality in the Ancient World, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. https://doi.org/10.12987/9780300236170
  8. Prager, Sarah. "In Han Dynasty China, Bisexuality Was the Norm". Daily JSTOR, Jun 10. 2020, https://daily.jstor.org/in-han-dynasty-china-bisexuality-was-the-norm/.
  9. Driscoll, Emily V.. "Bisexual Species: Unorthodox Sex in the Animal Kingdom". Scientific American, 1 Jun, 2008, https://web.archive.org/web/20221011224415/https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bisexual-species/.
  10. "The Kinsey Scale". Kinsey Institute, https://web.archive.org/web/20221226184123/https://kinseyinstitute.org/research/publications/kinsey-scale.php. Archived on 26 Dec. 2022.
  11. Bell, Alan P., and Martin S. Weinberg. Homosexualities a Study of Diversity among Men and Women. Beazley, 1978.
  12. Von Krafft-Ebing, Richard. Psychopathia Sexualis. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1939, https://doi.org/10.1016/C2013-0-06569-3.
  13. Hickey, M. & King, C. (2001). The Cambridge Illustrated Glossary of Botanical Terms. Cambridge University Press.
  14. "Walt Whitman". Bi.org, https://bi.org/en/famous/walt-whitman. Accessed on 28 Dec. 2022.
  15. "Ma and Bessie: Queens of the Bisexual Blues". Historical Homos, Apr 26. 2020, https://www.historicalhomos.com/cumming-to-you-live/bisexual-blues.
  16. Charlton-Dailey, Rachel. "Famous Bis: Edna St. Vincent Millay". Bi.org, 8 Sep. 2021, https://bi.org/en/articles/famous-bi-edna-st-vincent-millay.
  17. arco-pluris. "plural aestheticities (multisthetic) flags". Tumblr, 2 Mar, 2018, https://arco-pluris.tumblr.com/post/171469129367/plural-aestheticities-multisthetic-flags.
  18. DistinctiveSoy. "Biaesthetic". LGBTQIA+ Wiki, 22 Jun, 2021, https://www.lgbtqia.wiki/wiki/Biaesthetic.
  19. Raleigh. "Homoalterous, bialterous, polyalterous, and panalterous!". Tumblr, 4 May, 2015, https://web.archive.org/web/20150520062711/http://pride-flags-for-us.tumblr.com/post/118130541274/homoalterous-bialterous-polyalterous-and.
  20. beyond-mogai-pride-flags. "Biplatonic Pride Flag". Tumblr, 29 Jun, 2018, https://beyond-mogai-pride-flags.tumblr.com/post/175389907600/biplatonic-pride-flag.
  21. Pride-Flags. "Biqueerplatonic / Biquasiplatonic (1)". DeviantArt, 25 Aug, 2016, https://www.deviantart.com/pride-flags/art/Biqueerplatonic-Biquasiplatonic-1-630382255.
  22. Pride-Flags. "Biromantic". DeviantArt, 10 May, 2016, https://www.deviantart.com/pride-flags/art/Biromantic-607943792.
  23. Pride-Flags. "Bisensual (2)". DeviantArt, 3 May, 2016, https://www.deviantart.com/pride-flags/art/Bisensual-2-606637203.
  24. Page, Michael. "The History of the Bi Pride Flag". BiFlag, https://web.archive.org/web/20070129080614/http://www.biflag.com/Activism.asp. Archived on 29 Jan, 2007.
  25. 25.0 25.1 ryanyflags. "Bambi flags :D !". Tumblr, 31 Oct, 2022, http://archive.today/2023.06.17-000309/https://www.tumblr.com/ryanyflags/699607786749919232/bambi-flags-d-bambi-lesbian-bambi-vincian. Archived on 1 Jan, 2023.
  26. beyond-mogai-pride-flags. "a possible flag design for bambisexual". Tumblr, 2 Feb, 2018, https://beyond-mogai-pride-flags.tumblr.com/post/170419337815/bambisexuals-are-great-a-possible-flag-design-for.
  27. queerasfact. "ive recently found out that in the 80s". Tumblr, 23 Oct, 2018, https://archive.md/K0u82#selection-399.86-399.203. Archived on 4 Dec, 2021.
  28. 28.0 28.1 pride-color-schemes. "Biflux". Tumblr, 26 Jun, 2016, https://pride-color-schemes.tumblr.com/post/146529788141/biflux.
  29. Page, Michael. "The History of the Bi Pride Flag". BiFlag, https://web.archive.org/web/20070129080614/http://www.biflag.com/Activism.asp. Archived on 29 Jan. 2007.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Wilber, Jennifer. "Show Your True Colors: A Guide to Bi Pride Symbols". Owlcation, 29 Jun. 2022, https://owlcation.com/humanities/Show-Your-True-Colors-A-Guide-to-Bi-Pride-Symbols.