[As August 2009 marks the close of our eighth year of weekly publication, we shall spend this month enjoying "the blast from the past" with selections from Poor Mojo's Almanac(k): Year Two (issues 51-100). Please, enjoy!—Your Giant Squid, Editor-in-Chief, PMjA]
[originally published in issue #51]
Q: What is bisexuality?
A: Bisexuality is the quality of being attracted to both sexes.
Q: So then, what is a bisexual?
A: A person who is attracted to both sexes...me, for example.
Q: Um, ah, okay—
Q: How many people are bisexual? Are there a lot? I mean, I've heard that ten percent of the population is gay. What's the percentage of bisexuals?
A: What I've heard is that ten percent of people are gay, and ten percent of people are straight. The remaining eighty percent are bi.
Q: That seems awfully high.
A: Yeah, it does. But it all depends on how you define it, in real life. If a guy is "straight" his entire life and then at the age of fifty has an affair with another man, is he bi? If you fool around in high school with both sexes, but then lead a totally straight or gay life afterwards, are you bi? Are you bi only if you identify as bi, or can other people look at your romantic history and decide for themselves? It's confusing, but the Kinsey Scale might help you. See, there was this doctor who did a lot of pioneering work in the field of human sexuality back in the fifties. He came up with this scale to show the continuum of sexual attraction. It's like this: the scale goes from zero to six. A "zero" is someone who is unflaggingly straight. A "six" is someone who is unflinchingly queer. A "three" is both, equally. Most people, according to Dr. Kinsey, fall between the posts. Few people are zeroes or sixes. And to make it all even more fun, your place on the scale—your Kinsey score—can change over the course of time.
Q: When people say they're bisexual, does that really mean they're gay?
Q: When people say they're bisexual, does that really mean they're straight?
Q: What I'm trying to say is, is bisexuality just, like, a phase?
Q: But, are you sure? Because—uh—
A: Are you trying to tell me something?
A: Are you okay?
Q: Hey, I'm just doing this as a favor to Poor Mojo's Almanac(k). It's not like I'm gay or anything, or bi or whatever. Just because I'm doing this doesn't mean I have any deviant tendencies. So just drop it.
A: Fine. Sure. You got it.
Q: So. I know there are words like dyke, fag, rug-muncher and ass-cowboy, but are there any colorful pejoratives for bisexuals?
A: Of course. Those who wish to taunt or insult bisexuals can choose from several popular categories of terms. We all love the sporty phrases: switch hitter, free agent, pinch hitter, gray shirts, "bats for both teams." Or you could go with the disdainful: deviants, fence-sitters, omnivores, liberal arts majors. There are quite a few adjectives that apply, depending on the situation: confused, selfish, busy, easy, greedy, flexible, mercenary, lucky. If you really want to piss us off, these are classic choices: "gay" and "straight." But these are my favorites: fork-tongued, cosmopolitan, AC/DC, teeter-totters, Manichean, Australian, practitioners of the love that dare not speak its name, choosing door number three, kite-flyers, in-laws, renters, salt-lickers, and categorically challenged.
Q: The real question, I think, is why do you do it? Why not just be normal?
A: The problem with your question, is that it assumes or presumes choice. I'm attracted to men and women. It's simple. There have been some theories as to what causes bisexuality. Playing with ambiguously gendered toys—Legos, blocks, silly putty. Or maybe bisexuals watched the "wrong" kind of TV when they were children—too much Sesame Street, Canadian TV, He-Man and She-Ra, or any of a variety of French cartoons that were on Nickelodeon when I was a pup. Inappropriate reading materials, books that is, can also have an effect—Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time, L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, DC comics' Batman, or Berke Breathed's Bloom County. Anything could have caused this, or maybe nothing did. Maybe it is just a phase.
Q: But you just said—
A: Or maybe it all has to do with names. Did you ever notice how people seem to grow into their names? Like a Mortimer will always be a science-leaning über-nerd with evil tendencies. A Tiffany will spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about her hair, her makeup; Tiffany will do her makeup in class. A Fritz is not to be trusted. A trustworthy girl is Allison, you can expect punctuality and an even temperament from an Allison. But what about Cameron, Riley, Kelly, Chris, Erin, Aaron, Morgan, Orlando, Sebastian, Hunter, Dane. All these names could go both ways, so to speak. All of these names encourage gender confusion. Engender gender dissension.
Q: Okay, but—
A: True story. Hear me out. When I was eighteen I went away for six weeks to a summer camp. There were two kids to a room, paired by gender as you would expect. I mean, these are eighteen-year-olds and clearly not to be trusted with the opposite sex. Or, I suppose, the same sex in some cases. Or in my case, either sex. I show up with my sleeping bag and my backpack and find my room. On every other door there are two names: Bill and Joe, Therese and Joan, etc. On my door, only my name. I will not say my name here, but it is gender nonspecific. Because it wasn't clear from my name if I was a boy or a girl, I got my own room. I checked the box on my application. They knew somewhere, in some computer what I was—they had equal numbers of boys and girls—but at some point the data had been lost. They had been so afraid of a possible goof they actually stuffed three people into one room, in order to free mine up. Many events at this camp were roommate based. Even after I arrived, they didn't give me a roommate. They saw me, and still decided it was safer to keep me alone. Like as if they knew from my un-gendered name that I'd be trouble.
Q: I. I don't know what to say.
A: Yeah. I get that a lot.
Q: So what flavor of ice cream do bisexuals prefer?
A: Black cherry. Definitely. Or mint chocolate chip.
Q: If someone wears toe rings, does that mean they're bi?
A: No, it means they're a hippie.
Q: If a guy has a pierced tongue, is he bi?
A: No. He just has a stud in his tongue. He may be bi, or he may just have a thing for piercing or he may think it'll make him cool. I've been told it feels incredible—to be on the receiving end of a tongue stud—if you have the chance.
Q: What's that clicking sound?
A: My tongue stud.
Q: What about, you know, having a family? Are you going to get married and have kids someday? Don't you care about that?
A: Yeah, I do. If I want to have kids, I will. If I want to get married, I will.
Q: But, you know, what if—
A: What if I decide to settle down with someone I "can't" marry, someone I "can't" have children with? What do you suggest? That I ignore my feelings, chain them up, swallow them down? Try to be "normal?" And then get divorced in ten years?
Q: That's not what I was saying—
A: Oh, yeah? I think that's exactly what you're saying. You're so narrow-minded. You think a family has to be a mother, a father, and 2.4 kids. It doesn't have to be that way. There are many feasible models. Polyamory, open relationships, arrangements, plain old understanding. Just because you lead a boring life doesn't mean the rest of us have to.
Q: Are all bisexuals sluts, or just you?
A: Well, it's hard, you know. Everyone's always throwing themselves at you. It's like this: you tell one friend on the phone. He tells a few of his friends, who then tell their friends and girlfriends and boyfriends and so on. And then any party you go to. Any wedding you attend. Any time you walk down the street, you get knowing looks and notes handed to you. When you are a bisexual, you're never "safe" with anyone. Everyone is a possible hook-up, and you are a target for everyone. You meet an old friend, and his girlfriend winks at you and makes a pass while he's in the bathroom. Or her boyfriend slides his hand across your ass while you're waiting in line at the movies. Couples ALWAYS inviting you for threesomes. I swear, I check my voice mail and I've got like four, maybe five offers for dinner, wine and "giggle, who knows?" It's exhausting.
Q: Oh, really?
Q: So my friend just came out to me as a bisexual. And I was wondering if, uh, they were hitting on me?
A: Are you cute?
Q: Well, I guess so. I've never had any problems with, y'know.
A: Come on, out with it. What do you look like?
Q: Well, if Rupert Everett and Gwyneth Paltrow had a kid, and that kid had a degree in stats, that'd be me. How 'bout you?
A: I prefer boots, hard liquor, tight jeans, and the music of Johnny Cash. My hair is short, dyed blue. I sport a tongue stud and several tattoos. I have nice shoulders, big hands, freckles. Got any plans for the evening?
Q: I'm flexible. Did you have something in mind?
A: Wanna meet me at Sweetwaters, nine-ish?
Q: Yeah, okay. It's a date.
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