Bisexual advice:Still Sexy After All These Years? Nope. Bi, Celibate and Old.

By Sheela Lambert

Bi, celibate and old. This is what my life has come to. When I first discovered the New York City bi community, back in 1991, I was quite popular. In fact, I was the belle of the ball. For ten years I had boyfriends, I had girlfriendssometimes at the same time! There was the occasional threesome or foursome and constant invitations to sex parties and sex clubs that I always turned down (well almost always.) On one birthday, the entire guest-list of my bisexual birthday party gave me a group massage, which they offered (several times!) to turn into an orgy focused solely on me (I stuck with the massage.) A select bunch from my Bisexual Women’s Group went out together every week to dances and movies and beaches and I was always one of the gang. Groups of bi folk would actually gather in my apartment, even though I live in Washington Heights (commonly referred to as the nosebleed section of Manhattan).

When I was in my thirties and had lost my baby-fat but had not yet gained middle-age spread… I was hot. I was slender, curvy, and although not supermodel material, looked quite fabulous in a bikini—despite childbirth and a few stretch marks that could only be seen in bright light. My ex and I had joint custody of our son, so although I was a single mom half the week, I was single the other half. I never had to wait more than a few months between beaus or beauties, sometimes the start-up of one relationship occurred right on the heels of another’s demise. Even my diagnosis of Crohn’s disease didn’t put that much of a crimp in my social life at first because I already had a boyfriend, a girlfriend and lots of friends.

But the girlfriend decided she wasn’t comfortable with my double dating (now she’s the poster girl for polyamory) and the boyfriend wanted a healthy partner and children. Other bisexual relationships, though delightful in many ways, came and went.

But now, 13 years after my illness was diagnosed, it’s been two years since I’ve been in a relationship. And I’m not sure the last two even count. They were two recycled boyfriends, one bi and one incorrigibly straight, that I reactivated out of loneliness and the hope they would work out better the second time around. They didn’t. My theory was that two workaholics equal one decent boyfriend. But I just ended up being twice as frustrated when both of them cancelled dates, didn’t call when they should have or kept taking weeks off from the relationship because they “needed time alone.” Theoretically I was in two relationships. But in reality, I was spending weeks without a single date. I finally broke up with both, deciding that being alone would be about the same as dating those two, except without the cancellations. And then when they didn’t call me, at least I was expecting it.

About a year later, I had a few dates with a woman from one of my bi groups who proved even more slippery than the guys I broke up with. (In my experience, when it comes to dating, women are just as screwed up as the guys.) She had flirted with me years ago but when we went to see her sing in a Village jazz club, a light turned on. She had chocolate skin, long hair and a beautiful smile. She could spontaneously make up a new verse for an old standard and get everyone going. She got me going for sure. We had a couple dates but between her day job, gigging and rehearsing with her band, it was hard to get penciled in. I convinced her to squeeze in a date midweek. Although she invited me in, on my way out the door, she cancelled our date for the following Sunday. After she had her way with me. Apparently I had used up my quota of her time for the week. And this was a vacation week when she wasn’t teaching and had said she’d have more time. I got fed up and stopped calling. And since I had done all the pursuing…that was that.

Nine months later I turned 50 and freaked. I hadn’t had a date in 9 months. I hadn’t had a relationship in a year and a half. I had been faithfully attending my bi group twice a month, was showing up to a new one that popped up as well as an LGBT brunch group in my neighborhood (which turned out to be a bunch of gay guys, one lesbian and me.) I hadn’t met anyone. Just to prove to myself that I could still get a date, I put some personal ads on craigslist but left off my age. Of course since I’m bi, I had to post separate ads for men and women. And I had to be careful to write completely different wording so I wouldn’t be flagged as a repeat ad space hogger. And I had to omit any mention that I am bi.

In the men’s ad, I didn’t post that I am bi, because that attracts guys who assume I can’t wait to meet them at the nearest sex club. In the women’s ad, I didn’t post that I am bi because I would be instantly stereotyped and rejected as a bi-curious chick seeking a girl-on-girl one night stand. The only responses I could expect would be come-ons from women who are (very graphically), seeking the same.

To my bi-free ad I had many replies and three actual dates: two straight guys and a transgender woman (I answered her ad.) They went the way of most blind dates: in the crapper. I recently posted personal ads again and posted my age this time. The silence was deafening.

Apparently 20’s and 30’s are sexy. Even 40 isn’t over the hill these days. But 50 is the kiss of death. Of course, in person, people say I look much younger. But that still assumes that at 50 you have attained hagdom.

I’m experiencing the invisibility that goes with aging. Although it’s a relief to be catcall-free when I’m walking down the street, the lack of attention in my personal life is not as enjoyable. At 34, my social calendar was full. Either I have become eccentric and cranky in my old age or people just don’t think of 50 year old women as appealing. I’ve had some offers for casual sex, but one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I’m into relationships and casual sex doesn’t do a thing for me.

Even the one time I got dragged to a sex party way back when (I was out of town at a bi conference and as everyone knows, conference sex doesn’t count) I fell in love. I called the girl I hooked up with at the party the next day and invited her to visit me in New York. I could tell over the phone that she thought I was a lunatic. She was taking the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” approach and I was still thinking about the tender way she wrapped my scarf around my neck before I walked out the door.

I recently launched a new bi women’s group called Bi Women of All Colors, with Donna Redd, a friend from the good old days of the original Bisexual Women’s Group in NYC. Donna has a husband and a girlfriend—she is the bomb. I was hoping that this would be an opportunity for me to make new friends and possibly find a girlfriend too. At one of our recent dinners, two beautiful and interesting women showed up, each one special in her own way. I considered both, daydreaming about what it would be like to fall in love with each one. I was feeling quite hopeful. At the end of dinner they went off with each other.

What happened? I used to be that girl. The one that people wanted to go off with. But my role has changed. I am now seen as a mother-figure who provides opportunities for others. I am no longer hot.

I am also no longer child-bearing. I have already had hot flashes, night sweats and erratic periods. Even if I could get pregnant, when you have a child who is old enough to have his own; it’s time to close down the factory. I enjoyed motherhood but was never prepared to repeat an experience that almost killed me the first time. Luckily, modern medicine intervened and, unlike mothers who gave birth before the advent of antibiotics, I survived. And was able to enjoy raising my child.

I used to turn to family for love and attention when romance was in short supply. But the loved ones who made me feel special, my mom, my dad and my aunt have all died. My son regards me as a parent to rebel against, not a person to get to know. And my brother is a bit overwhelmed trying to substitute for the three people who have disappeared. Although he tries to be supportive, he is so tired of the bi topic, I can see his eyes roll up in his head even over the phone.

Right now, my main relationship is with my new vibrator which I was forced to purchase when my other one fried. It literally short circuited while in use, making scary noises accompanied by the acrid smell of burnt rubber—and a case of orgasm interuptus. “Electrocution by vibrator” might have gotten me into the Book of World Records, but I’m glad it didn’t.

Of course, having a chronic illness has caused me to be much less socially active. When you don’t have energy to go out, you have less opportunities to meet people. I don’t go to bi groups as often as I used to, or explore other events at the LGBT Center either. I don’t go to the theater, dance performances, restaurants or concerts—disabled people tend to be poor. I don’t go to free outdoor concerts either, as they require arriving an hour early to get an uncomfortable seat or a patch of grass (I need a backrest and a padded chair to sit for more than a few minutes) and if there are bathrooms, they are far from the seating area and have long lines; which I can’t stand on. I feel older than I look, a result of the constant fatigue from having a chronic illness. After 13 years, I only have a vague memory of what I used to be like pre-Crohn’s. People who can go to a job five days a week, play sports on the weekend or have a trim figure, all things I can no longer do, seem like they have superpowers to me.

My only superpower left is my activist work. Over 16 years, I have learned by doing. And because of the internet, it is something I can now do at home in my nightgown. I can rest between proposals and emails. And can turn my computer back on if I’m having insomnia at 3AM. Or 4 or 5 or 6. For some people, it would be a superpower to be able to speak out about their bisexuality. Either they have too much to lose or they’re having too much fun. At this point, I have nothing to lose and I’d rather spend my time racking up accomplishments for the bi and LGBT community than wasting my time on a relationship that doesn’t work, even a bi one. I would be willing to cut back a bit for true love, however. My psychic bisexual ex-boyfriend says it’s not in the cards. But I’m ready to throw the cards away.

Bisexual Youth Identity: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Crushes

The first time I realized that I had a crush on a girl, it was too much for my twelve-year-old brain to handle, so I promptly filed the information under “deal with later.” I mean, I liked boys. I really liked boys. I was even occasionally described as “boy crazy.” What did it mean that I had a massive crush on a girl? I didn’t think about this again until six years later when I embarked on an intense sexual relationship with my (female) best friend. I was still thinking, “But I like boys! I really like boys!”

My confusion is not uncommon. As guilt-inducing as first same-sex experiences frequently are, for young people who have never found themselves attracted to the opposite sex there is often an accompanying feeling of relief or recognition—a “this feels right.” When you’ve spent your childhood knowing that something was different about you because you had no interest in the opposite sex, realizing (or confirming) that you are gay or lesbian makes things simpler, although not exactly easy.

But it isn’t as easy for those of us who find ourselves attracted to both men and women. We may take a lot longer to come out or even become aware of our attraction to the same sex, because it doesn’t necessarily occur to us to examine our feelings towards them. Why go looking to complicate things when the status quo is working for you? Chrystie, 19, said, “I had always liked guys, so when I realized that I was also into girls, it was kind of a surprise. I’d never wondered about my sexuality until that moment.” For me, it took a couple of months of having an zealous relationship with a girl, continuing to crush on boys, thinking about past crushes on girls, and reading books about sexuality before I understood there was a word for this dual attraction, and that it did indeed apply to me. The word was bisexual.

Bisexuality is not an easy identity to adopt. Some folks identify as bisexual before ultimately coming out as lesbian or gay, which means that it’s difficult to know if someone is “truly” bisexual or “in a phase.” Bisexual is often a safer identity position than gay; your parents can still hold out hope that you’ll meet a nice girl/boy, get married, and have 2.5 children. However, this transitional bisexual identity leads people, both straight and gay, to conclude that “realbisexuality doesn’t exist. Folks who are only attracted to one sex seem to find it hard to believe that someone could be genuinely attracted to more. They tell us it’s just a phase, or ask us if we’re still bisexual. A gay male acquaintance responded to my irritated “yes” to this question with, “Yeah, I know. I was bisexual for a while, too.”

For a young person trying to come to grips with a new sexual orientation, this dismissal from supposed allies is extremely discouraging. There is a lot of pressure to pick a side. As for coming out, it seems much easier to explain to parents that you’re just not attracted to the opposite sex than to explain that while you could, in theory, lead a “normal” heterosexual life, you’re also attracted to the same sex and are just as likely to be a sexual deviant. Josh, 18, after struggling with his attractions to boys for a few years, found himself interested in a girl and wondered, “Why did I have to go through all this if I could just be attracted to girls?” However, just because he liked a girl didn’t mean that he could just abandon his feelings for boys, which were still there.

Invisibility is one of the biggest issues facing bisexual youth. There are few bisexual role models, and those that do exist are frequently defined by the gender of their current partner. Historical figures known to have slept with both men and women are generally co-opted by the queer community as lesbian or gay figures, and since we don’t know how they might have identified, can we really claim them as bisexuals? Sexual orientation was not constructed in the same way that it is now; words like homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual are relatively recent inventions. The need to label and construct one’s identity relative to that label has not always been so strong.

Part of what’s difficult about bisexual identities is that they are not static. Many bisexual folks describe their identities as fluid; there may be many times when they find themselves more attracted to woman and times when they find themselves more attracted to men. It’s rare that anyone is always equally attracted to both men and women in a 50/50 split. Even if it were, such a thing is impossible to quantify, despite my landlord’s assertion that I am a “true” bisexual – “I’ve seen who comes out of your bedroom!” he quips. Fluidity can make it difficult to be sure of your orientation. When you’re struggling to prove that you’re not just going through a phase, but worried that you might be, a swing to either side can be harrowing. I’ve known many bisexual youth who’ve breathed a sigh of relief and said, “No, I think I’m actually just attracted to girls” and then had to recant when a cute boy walked by.

“I wonder if I’m just jealous of other women’s bodies,” says Katie, 21. “Women are so sexualized in the media that it seems normal to look at them and think about how sexy they are. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s attraction and what’s social conditioning. Sometimes I can’t tell if I want to have sex with somebody or to BE that person.”

Forming an identity is a terribly important part of life for young people today. We constantly search for ways to present our identities to others. Whatever aspects of ourselves we share will be the aspects that define us to those we know. Changes or fluctuations, especially around sexuality, seems hard to understand and hard to believe.. “When I told my friends that I thought I was gay,” says Josh, “they accepted it. But when I talked to them about also being attracted to girls, they just said ‘nah, you’re gay’ and didn’t want to hear about it.” Learning to cope with shifting attractions and relationships is probably one of the most difficult parts of growing up. Adults who come out as bisexual frequently do so from a context of having sexual experience and (one hopes) confidence. Bisexual youth attempt to explore their sexuality in an atmosphere of guilt, repression, fear, pressure, and ineptitude. It’s hard to relax and enjoy sex when you’re not sure what you’re doing and you think that your parents will be coming home soon. Young people don’t usually have the skills to negotiate what’s comfortable and what’s not, and frequently have the paralyzing fear of “what if I don’t do what this person wants and nobody else ever wants to sleep with me?” Sexual approval is a strong motivator for young folks trying to build self-esteem and establish themselves as sexual beings.

So what’s a bisexual youth to do when their identity is fluid and suspect? How does one avoid the pressure to choose a side? What if it is all a phase?

The first and most important step is to accept yourself. Figure out what you need to feel comfortable with yourself and your attractions. Our society gives us very few options about what attractions are acceptable, and you are not the only one having feelings that you think you shouldn’t be having.

Finding community is a big help for a lot of people. It’s nice to know that you’re not the only person in a situation like yours. Community can mean a lot of different things—you may want to have close friends who are also bisexual, you may want to interact with other bisexuals on the internet (in chat rooms, or on sites like this one), or you might attend a support group for bisexual youth. While you will probably be unable to associate only with bisexual people, minimizing the presence of biphobic individuals in your life will make a big difference. Having a bi-positive community can keep you feeling positive about your attractions, remind you that you are not alone, and confirm that your identity does indeed exist.

There are many queer communities on the internet, but bisexual-specific ones are a bit harder to find. An internet search for “bisexual youth” may bring up some good leads – but here are a couple that I’ve checked out.

It’s not terribly easy to find many online communities for bisexual youthmost youth groups or sites have a broader LGBT mandate (which sometimes lists the “B” but doesn’t actually talk specifically about bisexuality) or else are not age-specific, or are even youth-exclusive because they’re intended for adults. If you know of specific groups for bi youth, please feel free to comment and let us know!

When you do find yourself in situations that are not bi-specific or bi-positive, be selective about coming out. Your sexual orientation is your business, and the only people who need to know are the people that you want to know. If you feel good about talking to someone about bisexuality, that’s cool, but you don’t have to educate everyone about the subject. People can do their own work.

After my first girlfriend and I broke up, I found myself wondering if bisexual was really the right identity for me. I still liked boys. I mean, really liked boys. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever feel that way about another girl. But my attraction to my first girlfriend was real; our relationship was real. Even if I was never attracted to another woman, I would still be bisexual.

Of course, since then I’ve found myself attracted to and in relationships with several other girls, all the while still liking (really liking) boys. And after twelve years of identifying as bisexual, the “phase” hasn’t passed. The only thing that’s really changed is that now I have a much better idea of how to deal with it when I have a crush on a girl.

The Bi-Curious Girl’s Guide To Strip Clubs

So you think you might be bi, but your ad to try it out has only been responded to by guys. Guys, you are great, don’t get us wrong! You’re tasty and different, and by golly, that thing is fun to play with. *sigh*… Aherm! But all that still leaves a Bi-Curious girl still curious! I would like to introduce you to something that satisfied my curiosity: the strip club!

Strip clubs cater to men though, and that combined with the unknown (a nasty essential to curiosity) makes the prospect of going to one downright frightening! It has been my experience, however, that there is absolutely nothing to fear. Please let me ease your fears too by letting you in on what I have learned about going to the club and what to do when you get there. Dancers and club owners love seeing lady customers! They may advertise for men, but they really do a better job at catering to us. Sorry guys. We still love you, we really do!

Speaking of our love for men, someone once voiced a fear to me that she didn’t want to have her boyfriend take her to a strip club because she didn’t want him thinking about another woman. Why not? You are. No matter what your sexual persuasion, you think about other people sexually. You do. He does. She does. The he and she that are soon to become a she and he always have. I think I just heard an English professor scream.

My point is that you have to let him be human. Just because he thinks about someone else does not mean he is going to act on it. He is letting you explore your sexuality, and act on it! He might want a word with my husband about his approaching shattered fantasies, but that is another topic.

In a strip club, all relationships are strictly professional… In a kinky drive you wild sort of way. You are both encouraged to think sexually about another person all you want without the “danger” of loosing anybody. Discover things you like and things that don’t work so well for you. This includes whether or not a woman’s body turns you on at all. If not, there is still much to learn about your man while you are there. Turn and see what is working for him. Then return to the safety of your own home with the full knowledge that the woman that just turned him on will never actually be with him. She is no more dangerous than the imaginary one he has in the shower.

Getting There

Selecting a Strip Club

You have decided to give it a try and did a search for local strip clubs. You found a few close to you and checked out their websites. Yikes. Never mind, maybe this was a bad idea.

Hold on! The owners are stuck in the dark ages of pre-internet adult entertainment. Their websites suck, and do not reflect on the quality of their establishments. Unfortunately you are not going to find out much from their website.

  • If you are married or have a boyfriend, you’ve got it made. Send him to go scope the places out. I did this to my husband. [BEGIN SARCASM]Oh woe is him! His wife sent him out to test strip clubs! Then, to make matters worse, she forced him to report on all the sordid details, which in turn made her horny and jump his bones! Will a man’s work ever be done?!?[END SARCASM]

  • If you are a single bi-curious girl, I would like to congratulate you on your existence. Oops! Maybe I ended that sarcasm a bit early. I apologize though. We all think you’ve got it made, but you are in search of a monogamous relationship, and want to find out if you are really attracted to girls. A strip club would be a welcome alternative to the constant barrage of abuse-offers from couples. How do you select one? A couple could do the next two points as well, but they are really tips for you.

1. Drive By. Click on “get driving directions” and drive by each place. Go during the day when you can see well, then go again at night during business hours. How do you feel about the neighborhood? Would you feel safe walking the sidewalk in the afternoon?

At night you will feel differently about that idea, but then is when you should check out the clientele. Drive around the block a couple times, and keep an eye out for cop cars. You want to see a cop car now. More on that in a later…

2. Call ahead. How much is the entrance fee? Does this cover charge apply to women? What kind of private dances are available, and what does each cost? What is the average amount for tipping the dancers, and when are tips expected? When are your busy days and hours, and when are your quiet hours?

I personally prefer quiet times. I get more attention from the dancers. The drawback is that this is usually when they first start their shift, and it is difficult for them to get in the mood. At crowded times there is more energy from the crowd for the dancers to feed off of. You can blend in easier because there is more likely to be other female customers.

Making Preparations

You have settled on a strip club you want to try. You have selected a date and a time according to the level of crowds you are comfortable with. It feels like a hot date with all this preparation! It is! Treat it like one!

  • Shower. Use an antiperspirant deodorant, even if you don’t usually need the antiperspirant part. You are under a lot of stress here, and it’s better safe than sorry. I am sure you have brushed your teeth, but pack a breath mint in your purse just in case. Skip the perfume entirely. Go as scent free as you can. Some of those guys put on four bottles of cologne, so the sexiest smell to a dancer is fresh air. If dancing for you provides her with it, you might be getting some free samples!

  • Dress somewhere between what you would wear for a first date and what you would wear for a first interview. If you dress too sultry, the girls will love it, but so will the guys. Something professional looking is fine, but no wool! You know what it feels like on the side that is not lined. You want to grind your skin against that? Find something that will feel nice for her to touch, but put some effort into making yourself presentable to her. It is a loud statement of respect that they respond to. You can still get service in sweats and a t-shirt, but your service will not be as nice.

  • Don’t have a drink to calm your nerves. You are trying to satisfy your curiosity, and you want all your senses to be at their peak performance. You do not need to be relaxed to find out if this is something you really like. You need to be relaxed on a date and you have to perform for her and make sure she is satisfied. You are the only one being serviced here. If you must, make sure it is as little as possible, and don’t drive. How are you going to explain to your mom where you were driving to when she comes to bail you out for drunk driving? Brush your teeth and more breath mints!

  • Time to pull out some money. Sure, they all have an ATM there, but it is best to budget before hand. For our anniversary, my husband and I budgeted $500 for going to a strip club. Was worth every penny. You are just trying to satisfy a curiosity though, not celebrating. $50 to $100 will enable a single person to get a thorough sampling. For a couple, more like $200. Around here you pay $20 to get into anywhere. After the entrance fee, I would recommend having at least another $20. This brings my minimum recommendation of what to spend to $40. That is if it is just you going alone with no one else. Granted, these are San Francisco Bay Area prices. I would love to see posts of prices for strip clubs in other areas please.

    Yes. It is more expensive than a movie. It is best to get over the sticker shock before you go because complaining about price to a dancer is like telling her she is worth less than the price of a movie ticket.

Got everything? Let’s go!

  • From the parking lot to the admittance window – Don’t worry about the loiterers outside. They are more afraid of you… no, really they are! You look like an angry jealous wife about to bust someone. Besides, remember that cop car you saw the other night? You stick out like a sore thumb, and it is watching you real close now. If any of those guys say or do anything, yell and/or make a gesture of distress. If you don’t want to press charges, they will still go to jail for the night for loitering.

  • Pay your entrance fee and stop just inside the door. I want you to look for big burly guys with white collared shirts and black slacks. Those are the bouncers. They will be guarding you from creepy guys much more closely than they will be guarding the dancers. Don’t see them? There is a scantily-clad girl about to greet you and ask you to take a seat. Tell her you are nervous and that you want to know how to prevent some creepy guy from picking up on you. If her answer doesn’t satisfy you, or you just don’t feel safe, just say you are not ready for this yet, and walk out. They will probably offer your money back in hopes that you will work up your nerve again, but if they don’t, just follow your gut instinct and try another place.

    More likely, some guy will look at you as you come in, and immediately there will be a bouncer between you and him looking like he wants to shred the guys eyes with his own toenails. You’re safe. Let the pretty girl take you by the arm and find you a seat anyway, ‘cause that’s fun.

You’re in! Now what?

  • Sit far from the stage and watch how things are done. There is a stage with seating around it, and separate areas for private dances. Get oriented. Watch how other people are doing things.

    You do not, however, want to mimic the other customers. They look bored! How can they be bored?!? If they are bored, why are they still here? Damn it, guys! Smile! I know you are not allowed to smile and tell a lady she looks good at work, but here you can! Honest! You should! You don’t need to be like the obnoxious frat boy ruining the show for everyone by being loud about it, but a little “oh wow” under your breath lets her know that the move she is doing at the moment is working for you. (Ohhhh so he is a butt man! Well, if he liked that, he’s gunna love this….)

  • But unfortunately, none of the guys in the strip club you are going to be in will have read that last paragraph. Fortunately we girls find this a bit easier. Girls are allowed nervous smiles without worrying about their manliness being questioned. We have a better feel for the appropriate time to let our eyes leave the chest and make eye contact for a smile because we have chests ourselves. What you may find a bit difficult is being the only one clapping as a dancer is introduced, and when she finishes her act on the stage. Try to do it anyway if nothing else but to get the other guys to show a little appreciation.

  • Okay, you have sat in the back long enough now. Time to kill the curiosity once and for all. First, you are going to go sit up at the stage. This is easy with a guy with you, but hard to do alone. To make it easier, take a $20 bill and get it exchanged for one-dollar bills. This informs the staff of where you are about to sit. At one place, I found it really quite entertaining to watch the bouncers prepare a spot for me. You could not get picked up on by a guy if you wanted to at this place!

  • Put at least one dollar down for every song that plays. It is usually two songs per dancer. She is going to pause in front of you and do a little move for the tip. Smile. Say or mouth a thank you when she moves on. If something is particularly working for you, give more money if you can and compliment her.

  • If you haven’t been asked while you were in the back, you will be asked now. “Would you like a private dance?” You will notice that you are getting asked that question much more frequently than all the men around you. Women are favored customers. You will see women who obviously do not want to be there but their men dragged in. By default these men get better service from dancers by bringing women. Then there are the women customers that want to be there. Smile back at them.

  • The private dances are expensive, but the dancers never see most of that money. It goes to the club owner. Please give your dancer a tip for each dance she gives you. If you only have $20 to spend, spend it all at the stage in tips. When a dancer offers a private dance, say “Oh, I would really love one, but I only had $20 to spend, and I spent [am spending] it all on tip money at the stage”. This tells the dancer that what you have is going 100% to the dancers, and you are spreading it around to all her friends. This news will spread, and you will be given great consideration.

  • If you do have enough money for a private dance, be prepared to have your curiosity satisfied! You don’t need any advice from me for how to go about starting. Just say yes to one of the dancers that asked. She will make small talk while waiting for your song to start. If you feel comfortable, divulge your reason for coming. It is their favorite one. If she is not lesbian or bi, one of her co-workers is. Always accept the second offer for a private dance. That one you were fixed up with.

  • Remember your smiling, and your feedback when you like something. Never compliment her by putting down or comparing her to another dancer. They are friends. Yes, she knows she is pretty. She is getting paid for pretty. That does not mean a girl doesn’t still love to hear it. Go ahead and get sexy back during the dance. Just stick to the rules. If you are unsure, ask. “Can I take my shirt off too back here? That’s okay, I understand.”

If, after the second private dance, you are not flushed and horny, you may not be bi. Maybe you are, and this was just not a good test for you. I don’t know. I was flushed and horny and filled with discovery about my sexuality and myself.

Leaving is easy.

The dancers kiss you goodbye, and your protectors, the bouncers, relax their scowls as you leave their protection so they can sneak a smile of goodbye to you. You see the security cameras that will keep an eye on you all the way to your car, and someone moves to monitor them as you go. Those loiterers don’t frighten you in the least anymore because you know they are incapable of saying anything to a woman even if she is naked and asking them questions. Besides, there is a security camera aimed at them. Go home. Attack your man or your vibrator a few thousand times so you can sleep. I sincerely hope I helped a little.

Becoming Bisexual: Six On-going Conversations

Note to self:
When preparing to out yourself as bisexual, realize that this actually means coming out as gay. Realize that the straight side of you is assumed normal and expected. The act of identifying yourself as something other than straight automatically makes you queer.

Of course there are always exceptions. If your circle of friends and family are staunchly gay, coming out as straight would have greater impact, the assumption of gay could exist. Either way, coming out as bisexual puts you at odds (or on par) with almost every existing category of sexuality out there.

There is no one way. And every way is somewhat the same: usually a misunderstanding.

1. From the street, the clean and bright green sign beckons: Kent’s Kitchen, come in and eat. It is a little daytime cafeteria sandwiched between an over-flowing Chinese grocery and a meat market with a slab of dripping BBQ pork hanging in the window. The street is full of people. It is noon in Chinatown.

Inside Kent’s Kitchen, a dozen tables are stacked in long rows beside a wall-length mirror. This is where the working people sit on their lunch breaks eating cheap Chinese food from the buffet. Rice and one topping is $3.75. Rice and two toppings is $4.50. There is fried rice, steamed rice, pork, chicken, beef, black bean, mama’s tofu, chow mien and vegetable – the choice comes down to personal appetite.

I had just moved home from my second year at university and asked my mother to lunch so that we could talk. Talk being a euphemism for confession. I was gearing myself up to tell her that sometimes I like girls more than boys. It seemed important to tell her this right away, the day after I moved in, because I was madly in love with a girl and thought the whole world should know.

Sitting there, elbow to elbow with an older man reading a Mandarin newspaper, I remember thinking that if there is a type food to suit every individual taste, why shouldn’t it be that way with sexuality? But it isn’t that way, or at least it doesn’t seem that way in the mainstream world. Out there, it’s gay or straight. And if I was sitting here telling my mother that I wasn’t straight… her odds were high that I was gay.

I remember my internal question better than my mother’s reaction, which came along the lines of positive, unsurprised and caring. But what scared me the most was how to tell her when I was once again, and inevitably it did happen, in love with a man. It would be like coming out all over again. And it was. It always is.

2. “I remember when I was going out with Denise, back when Denise was still Denise not Devon, and people on the island saw me and when that [relationship] didn’t work out, they saw me with Rory,” says Ursula Watt. “I could see the cogs working in their brain.”

Watt knows a lot about the quirks of coming out as bisexual having lived it for five years. I know this because she and I came out together. “Came out” in the big gay sense of the term: cruising the sole gay bar in town together, dating women, getting mixed up in the queer women’s scene. A true exploration of the homo-side of bisexual.

Watt says people used to assume she was gay and now they assume she’s straight. “It’s not an easy fence to straddle. I hold it back here on the island. I’m a bisexual in a heterosexual relationship.”

What it has meant is a lot of discussions about sexual identity. She can’t even remember if she ever came out as bi, more that she came out in the gay community, and then came out again by dating a man, then came out again by dating a woman, and so on.

“It’s somewhat rare and nice when someone is open to talking about it,” says Watt. “The possibility of me being with a man or a woman before them, or even after, is usually not a pleasant one.”

It’s been almost a year that she’s been with Rory. But the bisexuality issue hasn’t really come up a lot, she says. “We have a XXX cupboard and at the bottom is my strap-on gathering dust…. We share a house and a car, and we’ve talked about buying property together. It does seem to be following the straight and narrow path,” she says. “If anything, he would worry that I might want that lifestyle again.”

But the balance never seems perfect for when she goes back to visit friends and is once again immersed in the gay community, they ask “how are you doing with that boy?” Watt recalls. “There’s skepticism, like they’ve lost a team member.”

3. “You’re going to leave me for a man aren’t you,” she said from the other side of the bed, face half-buried in a pillow.

My first girlfriend, Liz, the one who looked more like a boy than most boys. After I told her that I preferred bi to dyke she would ask me, “Do you still call yourself bisexual?”

I was never certain how to answer this: she wanted me to say no but it was a lie, and a yes encountered anger because she felt she would never be enough to satisfy me.

When I asked why, she said it was because perhaps one day I would choose to be with a man and have the white-picket-fence nuclear-family dream. Bisexuality was seen as a freewheeling choice. And maybe it is, to some. But my heart rarely follows on command.

To Liz it was simply like I had an unquenchable thirst. She kept waiting for me to say, “Ah yes, right now I am filled.”

This is how I came to understand that some see bisexuality as synonymous with wanting more. No one person will ever be enough.

Another coming out story.

4. The most supportive statement I have ever heard about bisexuality was from my last boyfriend, Michael, who during a disagreement said, “Of course I support you. Don’t I introduce you as my lesbian girlfriend?”

Too bad I never identified as a lesbian. Too bad he didn’t understand bi either.

5. “I guess I inferred that from our conversation you were saying there was room for men in your relationship,” he said curtly via email. If something can be said curtly over the casual, often misunderstood exchanges that email allows, this man had it down pat.

Newly non-monogamous and eager to explore, he saw me as his perfect target. Happily committed to someone else, not a complete stranger and sexually open. To him, bisexual meant non-monogamous.

Me, I’ve never been able to make non-monogamy work. It was a disaster from the get-go. I know some extraordinary people who are marvelous at it, but I am not one of them.

Being bi certainly hasn’t given me this ability.

Non-monogamy is the one aspect that makes me want to shy away from the word bisexual. It actually makes me cringe at the word. Because the first time I came out to a straight male – a friend and the boyfriend of my roommate–his instantaneous response was, “Cool. Hey, you should come out with us sometime. We could hook up.”

Ursula Watt is also familiar with this story, not only because she was the third roommate in that house at the time, but also because it’s happened to her repeatedly.

“People totally sexualize it, especially men. You become hyper-sexualized, like you’ll take anything you can get,” she says.

Now she plays her cards close. She lives in a small community with her boyfriend and admits she thinks twice about who she’ll tell.

“It’s small here,” says Watt. “It’s not a place to be foot-loose and fancy-free without being noticed.”

6. “I don’t believe in bisexuality. Now I can’t speak for women, they seem to be more sexually fluid, but for men, it’s simply a stepping-stone in the coming out process. I can’t say that I know any bisexual men. They’re all gay now,” says my father.

I was raised by two lesbian mothers and two gay fathers. A household of gay, and yet coming out as bi was no less of a challenge. It was different and they didn’t understand it. It didn’t conform to the gay minority. Worse, it came with the privilege to pass as straight.

Saying this might make you read my coming out story with my mother differently. She’s gay. Should be easy. But I came from parents who would jokingly say, “If one of our children doesn’t end up gay then we’ll feel like failures.” With two straight-laced siblings, that left me. They wanted gay. I am what they call “undecided.”

If I am in a long-term relationship with a woman, bisexuality will have been part of my coming out process. If I am in a long-term relationship with a man, it will have been a phase. This is not a unique response. I have heard it directed towards many friends along the way as they dance the fine line of what sexuality means to them. Inevitably this comes with changing partners, and usually another round of coming out.

I have been told repeatedly that if you choose to be bisexual you have three options: You remain single and date fluidly, you maintain constant non-monogamy, or you choose one partner and settle, at least publicly, with the label that it comes with. But I have come to believe that bisexual is more about what goes on in my head. So I’m in a committed relationship now and I am okay with being “bisexual, in a lesbian relationship” which often gets condensed to lesbian. It’s easier to take the label knowing that someone else out there is bisexual in a hetero relationship. Well, that’s how we are for now.

Hell Yes, You Do Exist! Biphobia in the World

You're a fencesitter."
"You're just confused."
"You're just halfway to gay."
"You spread disease.
"You're just being trendy."
"Make up your mind."

When I take a look at a website such as, I am filled with joy at seeing so many bi folks coming together. We're a community, we're strong people. But that doesn't mean the road for us is paved in pink, purple and blue! Among the many struggles we still have to deal with is the undeniable influence that biphobia has on our lives.

I've been a freelance writer/activist in the greater queer and the smaller bi community for a number of years. And when I write articles, I often ask for input, putting out emails for people to comment. Never have I ever received such response than from my simple call out for experiences with biphobia. This is a topic that many people have, unfortunately, had experience with and is a definite touchstone for our community.

What is Biphobia?
Wherever there exists differences in our world, there exist phobias. Be they an individual thing or a group mentality, humans seem to have a natural predilection toward fear. Perhaps the most widely recognized societal phobia is homophobia—the fear of people who love those of the same sex. Be it the result of religious beliefs, societal conditioning or just personal misunderstanding, homophobia is still rampant throughout the world. And for the longest time, bisexual people would have been lumped in under homophobia, given that we do have the ability to love those of the same sex. However, it just doesn't cut it. Bisexual people have a different set of experiences, that are, ahem, more complex than those covered by homophobia. And many of these experiences are based on where biphobia comes from.

Stereotypes and Biphobia
Maybe you could relate to some of the quotes at the beginning of this article. They are just some of the many, many stereotypes that are affixed to bisexual people. Basically, bi people are considered sex-crazed, indiscriminate, confused, disease-carrying fools who are deluding themselves with the idea that they can't or don't have to chose between the two genders. Perhaps the most powerful idea of bisexuality is that it simply doesn't exist. Robyn Ochs, longtime bi activist, educator and author tells of doing workshops across the United States: "Almost every place I visit, one or more person says, "I don't believe in bisexuality."

Of course, any of these characteristics are unfair to place on a community as a whole or individuals. Unfortunately, it isn't even necessary for you to be directly assaulted with any of these stereotypes for you to be affected by them. Your very existence as a bi person can render you helpless in the face of outright discrimination. Cheryl Dobinson, an activist and creator of the bi women's 'zine The Fence, suggests that those who are confronted with these stereotypes may choose to "identify as another label, or no label at all."

Biphobia in the Straight Community
Given the prevalence of homophobia in the world, it is easy to see how the straight community is a major influence of biphobia. Robyn Ochs, in Bisexuality: The Psychological and Politics of an Invisible Minority (Ed. Beth A. Firestein, Sage, 1996, pp 217–239), makes a blunt statement:

“It is obvious that bisexual individuals who are being approached by someone intent upon perpetrating violence against them as they leave a gay bar are unlikely to have the opportunity to say to the gay basher, "Oh actually, you see, we're bisexual, not gay, so please, only beat us up on one side." Nor would such a plea be likely to dissuade the person from assaulting them.”

Of course, biphobia is not just about physical violence. Biphobia from the heterosexual community can take many forms. People who come out to family can be ostracized and disowned, in much the same way gay men and lesbians are. Many people will not come out to their families fearing losing them. Bi people, particularly men, are also condemned as transmitters of disease to the straight community. They are perceived as recklessly engaging in gay sex and then coming home and infecting their unsuspecting wives and girlfriends (of course the same does apply to women), with STI's such as AIDS. In the same vein, bisexuals are often blamed for the breakdown of families, if after time, they come out to their spouses. The courts can then treat them unsympathetically when issues of custody of children arise.

All of these instances come from the societal belief of the superiority of heterosexuality over homosexuality—any form of homosexuality. But even this comes in degrees. In recent years, the concept of "bisexual chic" has come up. Movies and television have portrayed women as "hot" when they exhibit bisexual tendencies and actions. Of course, it is assumed that those same women will still be coming home to their men in the end. This is a clear double standard. Men have never achieved this same level of cultural "hotness for being bisexual," more often than not male homosexual activity is still vilified.

Biphobia in the Queer Community
Almost seems like a contradiction, doesn't it? How can people who have been similarly oppressed also feed into biphobia? Aren't we "kin"? It may seem so these days, what with most queer organizations carrying the acronym "LGBT" (in the least). However, it must be remembered that that 'B' (and 'T' for that matter) are relatively new additions, and there is still much derision sent our way from the homosexual community.

There are certain gay and lesbian people who, much like straight people, also believe in the invisibility of bisexual people. However, instead of not wanting accept that a bi person's attraction to the opposite gender exists; they instead consider bi people to be too afraid to come all the way out as gay or lesbian. As a result, bi people are sometimes not accepted, particularly at the queer high holiday, Pride. If you haven't already, I invite you to go back and read "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" Sometimes gay men and lesbians can be downright catty to bisexual people!

On the other end of the spectrum of biphobia from the queer community is the belief in "heterosexual privilege." This is the notion that bisexuals can, when it is convenient for them, jump back and hide behind their "hetero" side when it comes to difficult situations. This leads to a sense of resentment. They feel that bi people have just jumped on the bandwagon of the rights and achievements they have accomplished. However, it should be noted that bi activists, such as Lani Ka'ahumanu, Robyn Ochs, Steven Harvey, Dana Shaw, Rob Yaeger and many others have working hand-in-hand with the wider queer community for understanding for many years.

Where do we go from here?
Whenever there is a social condition that is based on fear, much changing of attitudes needs to be accomplished before we can truly make change. Lani Ka'ahumanu notes "biphobia looks very different today than it did in the closing decades of the 20th century." Because bisexual people are more known, recognized and socially aware themselves, "there is less face to face hostility." However, she does note that biphobia is not a thing of the past yet; instead, "biphobia has gone underground. It's more subtle. Like sexist or racist comments or jokes people hold back now or use euphemisms and/or wait for the woman/person of colour/the bisexual to leave the room before they comment."

So what can we do, to dispel stereotypes and combat biphobia? Well, the best thing is to just be ourselves. Live your life the way you want. Take as a spouse whomever loves you and you love. If it works for you, have a lover of each gender, and carry a picture of each in your wallet. And while it may not be possible for everyone, wear your sexuality on your sleeve to establish you—and bisexuality in general—as someone and something that needs to be taken seriously and be respected.