Gay & Lesbian Services of Western New York

Am I Bisexual?

A 16 year old female asks, “I have always liked and dated guys but I have begun to notice that the affection I have for a female friend is becoming romantic. I have always been drawn to and cared for her but recently I have begun to entertain romantic thoughts about her. I don’t get enthused about the idea of sex with her but I do feel strongly for her, want to be close and want some physical contact, maybe a kiss. Does this make me bisexual or bi-curious?”

Clarifying your sexual identity and eventually coming to a consistent definition yourself as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered or other is part of the task of growing up. For many adolescents, thinking about and/or experimenting with people of the same sex may cause concerns and anxiety about sexual orientation. For some, even thoughts or fantasies can cause anxiety. These feelings or behaviors DO NOT necessarily mean an individual is gay or lesbian or bisexual. The feelings have to be PERSISTENT over time.

Orientation is NOT determined by sexual behavior. Sexual orientation is determined by CONSISTENT emotional, romantic or sexual feelings of attraction to others. These feelings persist over time and for people who identify as heterosexual, gay or lesbian, the object of desire remains generally constant. Bisexuality is a much grayer area in the arena of sexual orientation, partly because it can be hard to define and also because there is much less research to forward our understanding. (Although research to assist our understanding is increasing. Indeed, there is even a research journal dedicated to the topic of bisexuality.) Many persons resist the use of the term bisexual and prefer pansexual or non – preferential or sexually fluid.

There are many people who have the capacity to become emotionally involved with both the same and the opposite gender as you describe. There are those who would characterize their feelings as love and they might even desire to be close and have some physical, more intimate contact. Certainly to experience such intense feeling for a friend can be confusing and even anxiety provoking. However, this experience, in and of itself, for a specific individual does not generally characterize bisexuality.

Bottom line, I can’t give you a definite “yes” or “no” to your question about whether you are Bi because you entertain romantic thoughts about your female friend. Only you will know as you continue your life’s journey (“persistent over time”).

Follow your heart. As you do, don’t get down on yourself for feelings you have about people in your life. For a woman to have strong feelings for another women in not unusual and never has been. Women historically have formed strong bonds, perhaps like those that you have described, without “sex” being the issue.

I can only guess that the root of your question is a “what does this say about me?” feeling that you have about what you feel toward your female friend. And this feeling is the result of growing up in our heterosexist culture which tells you that if you are not “straight” there must be something wrong with you.

We are who we are. Accept yourself. Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. If you have to question, question the messages of society, not your feelings!

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