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Being Bisexual in College: Two Collegiettes’ Experiences

Though many collegiettes identify as bisexual, many others don’t know much about this sexual orientation at all. We talked to two collegiettes about their experiences with bisexuality in college. They directly respond to some of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding bisexuality. What does being bisexual mean exactly? Does everyone who is bisexual choose to identify that way? How does it affect your dating life in college? How do others react to it? What is it like to be bi in college?

What is Bisexuality?

According to the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), the definition of bisexuality varies depending on whom you ask. The BRC defines bisexuality most generally in this way: “Someone who has had sexual experience with or even just attractions to people of more than one sex can be described as bisexual, but may not identify that way. Likewise, one can identify as bisexual regardless of sexual experience.” So, the definition of bisexuality is loose, but it generally entails being attracted to both men and women.

Her Campus talked to two collegiettes about their experiences with being bisexual in college. One collegiette, Alyx, actually identifies as pansexual and therefore doesn’t see gender as a factor in her attraction to others (similar to bisexuality). The other collegiette, Hannah*, identifies as bisexual. Here are some of their thoughts on being bi in college:

The Dating Scene


What is dating or finding potential partners like? Is it easier or harder to find people to go out on a date or hook up with?

Alyx: “Being pansexual is actually pretty great for me, dating-wise! I have a much larger pool of potential dates than monosexual people do. Although I’m about 90 percent attracted to females and 10 percent attracted to males, so I suppose that could affect [my dating options]. I’ve only been in two relationships since starting college, both of them long-term, so I can’t really give input on more short-term things. My current relationship has been very wonderful.”

Hannah: “Since I just started the coming out process, it really hasn’t materially affected my dating life so far. I do worry, though, about being able to find girls to date at all, because it’s really just a much, much smaller dating pool, especially in my small college town. I also sometimes feel pressured to come out faster or make sure everyone in my life knows, even though I’m totally not ready for that. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to be introduced to someone because a mutual friend didn’t know I’d be interested.”

Reaction from the Gay and Lesbian Community

Do collegiettes who identify as bisexual feel prejudice from the gay and lesbian community? Are they able to fit in with the gay and lesbian community or are they isolated because they don’t choose just one gender when it comes to who they’re attracted to?


Hannah: “Whether I feel accepted by the LGBT community (or not) is a tricky one. Do I feel accepted by the community as a whole? Not exactly. It feels like there’s this perception that I could just as easily end up with a guy, so what am I complaining about? But, as with most things, the way I feel toward a broader community pales in comparison to what I’ve experienced on a personal level. My best friend is gay, and he’s the first person I told (accidentally). There’s no way I could have done any of it, this whole crazy coming out experience, without him. To me, that’s all that really matters.”

Alyx: “I don’t really feel a lot of prejudice. Although my friends are all awesome, so there’s that. If I’m in a LGBTQ space and talk about having a boyfriend, I get instant surprised reactions, but nobody actually straight up says anything. They WILL sometimes ask how I identify, which is great! I’d much rather people ask than just make assumptions.”

Reaction to Coming Out

How does the rest of the college community react towards bisexuality? What is the hardest part about being out?

Alyx: “I feel invisible more than anything else. A lot of people will decide your sexuality for you, based on whom you’re dating. So seeing me with a boyfriend automatically makes me straight. Another thing that’s kind of annoying is how, if I’m on a date with my girlfriend, people will assume that we’re just friends going out for lunch. But then if we kiss we’re suddenly hyper-visible and people complain about us showing too much affection, even though straight people can do a lot worse without people complaining. I don’t necessarily hate people not automatically knowing my sexuality, it just irks me when strangers assume they know who I’m dating.”

Hannah: “The first time I came out, it was a complete accident. One of my best friends is gay and started coming out late last year. We were just kind of talking about his coming out process, and I said something like, ‘I’m really so proud of you, because if I’m being honest… I’d probably identify more as bisexual. But I could never come out. I just couldn’t do it.’ So we talked it out that night (and a million times since – he’s been amazing). And I was planning to keep it between us, basically forever. But the next morning I woke up and it just felt so good that someone knew, that I’d said it out loud. I’d known I was attracted to girls for a really long time, but I’d never put a label on it, even in my mind. That morning was the most honest I’d felt in my whole life, and I didn’t want to just throw that away. So when I saw the same friend that day, I told him that I wasn’t ready to accept it yet, but I wanted to someday, and I didn’t want to close myself off to anyone. Then the same day, I told another friend. I told another the next day, and it just kind of continued from there. I still haven’t told anyone who wasn’t a friend, and I’ve very intentionally only told friends who I know will be completely accepting. I’m not ready to come out to the more homophobic people in my life yet. But I will be, someday!”

The College Experience

Does college have a more accepting atmosphere when it comes to bisexuality? What are the biggest challenges for a bisexual collegiette?


Alyx: “Being queer in college is interesting. I don’t think it’s really affected my academics at all. Although, after I out myself, I tend to become the ‘token queer’ in my classes. It’s kind of awkward being the default everyone in class defers to on topics relating to queer-ness, especially since I’m not really an expert on anything other than my own life. One girl in my Human Sexuality class was apparently convinced that I was a lesbian, and expressed a great deal of surprise when I was talking about my boyfriend.”

Hannah: “I’m not anywhere close to accepting my bisexuality. Every other day, I try to convince myself that coming out isn’t worth it, that it’d be better to go back to just making it work and passing as completely heterosexual. But then I think about how much better I am, and will be, for accepting myself as a complete person… not just the parts of me that society views as acceptable. Ultimately, I just want to want what I want. College, and more importantly the people I met there, taught me that I don’t have to be ashamed of that.

Being bisexual in college, for me, has been more about discovering my sexuality. I’ve always known I was attracted to girls but I grew up in a really, really conservative environment and somehow managed to avoid ever putting a label on it. Even when it first started dawning on me that I could by no means honestly identify as completely straight, I planned to hide it and ‘make it work.’ But meeting more and more accepting people changed my views on that. Now, I don’t want to close myself off to the possibility of a relationship with anyone, no matter what [his or her] gender is.”

Misconceptions of Bisexuality

There are many myths and misunderstandings associated with bisexuality. Struby Struble, the director of the LGBTQ Center at The University of Missouri shared some common misconceptions about bisexuality:

MYTH: Bisexual people are attracted to everyone.

Struble Says: As is true with all sexualities, bisexual people are only attracted to some people (e.g., straight women aren’t attracted to all men, just to some men).

MYTH: Bisexual people are promiscuous.

Struble Says: This myth usually comes about because there’s a belief that because of the possibility of attraction to more people, bisexual people have more sex. As with all sexualities, each person chooses her number of sex partners.

MYTH: Bisexual people are confused.

Struble Says: If someone is self-identifying as bisexual it is because they have come to a point where their sexuality is clear to them and they are not confused.

MYTH: Bisexuality is a stop on the way to being gay or lesbian.

Struble Says: Not necessarily. All sexualities are fluid.

 

The bottom line of bisexuality? “As with all identities, bisexual people should be allowed to self-identify. This does not mean that they cannot change how they self-identify [over time]. The key is that it is SELF-identification and not being identified by others based on a person’s current relationship status,” says Struble. It’s up to each collegiette to define her own sexuality as she sees fit—it’s not up to others to define it for her.

Most importantly, these collegiettes want to send a message that bisexuality isn’t that different from being straight. They still feel the same emotions that hetero- or homosexual people feel when it comes to crushes, lust, love, and commitment!

 

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Brooke Hofer is a senior at the University of Missouri. She is majoring in Strategic Communications through the School of Journalism while also pursuing minors in Classics, Psychology and a general Honors degree. In addition to writing for Her Campus, Brooke is an active member of Kappa Delta Sorority (Epsilon Iota chapter), Vice President of Sigma Alpha Pi, and she is a barista in the Columbia, Missouri area. Brooke loves working out, writing short stories, reading old books, and spending time with her family and friends in Kansas City. She hopes to eventually travel the world while working in the advertising or public relations industry.
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