Sexual preference is a lot like one’s taste in potato chips: the fact that you like one flavor isn’t mutually exclusive, preventing you from liking a different kind. For instance, I really like salt and vinegar Kettle chips, and can attack a bag of those in a way you’ve never seen and will not see again. But you know what? Sometimes I’m in more of a sour cream & onion kind of mood. And if I’m feeling really zany, maybe I’ll get jalapeño. If someone were to ever say to me, “Wait, I thought you liked salt and vinegar chips, but I just saw you eating sour cream & onion! That’s a sin!” I would pause, put down the bag, and slap them directly in the mouth. Of course there are some people who genuinely just like one type of chip, and that’s totally fine. You do you. But don’t tell me I can’t eat all the chips, or have all the feelings for whoever I want. Because again, your mouth, I will slap it.
The New York Times recently published an article on sexual fluidity with the sub-heading “Bisexuality, like chronic fatigue syndrome, is often assumed to be imaginary by those on the outside.” For starters, this is not The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. People who identify as bisexual are not mythical creatures, but doctors, lawyers, teachers and maybe even your mom. They are also people who don’t agree with the idea of a strict gender binary. In fact, the only thing “imaginary” about someone’s sexual identity is the intellect of someone who doubts them. And, as we’ve said before, not believing in bisexuals can really mess up some people’s dating lives.
The article begins with Olympic swimmer Tom Daly’s recent video where he stated that he was in a relationship with a man but still attracted to women, and points to other celebrities like Alan Cumming and Maria Bello who are married to or dating people of the same gender, but identify as bisexual. Pundits like Andrew Sullivan have responded saying that coming out as bisexual is just a stop on the way to admitting “full” homosexuality. In his blog The Dish, he casts aside Mr. Daley’s claim about still liking girls “a classic bridging mechanism to ease the transition to his real sexual identity,” and states “I know because I did it, too.”
So are there people who’ve identified as bisexual and later come out as gay? Of course there are. But sometimes, they’re actually what they say they are. Unfortunately, it’s especially difficult for men to express their sexual fluidity in a culture that is inherently sexist and homophobic, eroticizing women’s sexual preferences while reducing male sexuality into being either “gay” or “straight.”
As a person who likes all kinds of potato chips and people, I’d like to take a page from New York’s new First Lady Chirlane McCray’s book. When asked in Essence about her sexuality, “I am more than just a label. Why are people so driven to labeling where we fall on the sexual spectrum? Labels put people in boxes, and those boxes are shaped like coffins.” Well said, Ms. McCray. And please, pass the chips. All the chips.