Most of the bisexual folks I know prefer to identify as "queer," or less ambiguously (ha, ha?) "pansexual" as an easy way to avoid those annoying stereotypical connotations.
In my experience, when gay guys say they're "not like other gay people," they mean they're not some femmy fag. The disavowal is about perceptions of gender and masculinity, not sex. Stupid internalized homophobia.

At least that's what it's been every time I've seen a kid say it. Maybe you hang out with different young gays.
@1 - Most bisexuals you know apparently don't know that "queer" and "pansexual" and pretty much any word is going to have stereotypical connotations. In fact, the harder someone tries to eschew "labels", the more my mind shoves them into a pigeonhole.


Sorry Dan, you're off on this one. Although, being a skeezy slut may be a subset of the femmy fag stereotype.
This has been said to me more often than I care to remember: "Yeah, you're gay but you're not gay like that." I usually respond with "I'm not that effeminate because I'm not that effeminate. It's not a political stance. I'd like to think if I was completely flaming you'd still want to talk to me." Backtracking and "Oh, of course I would!" ensues. For whatever reason with this issue, a lot of people (on both sides of it) don't know they're being assholes until you point it out to them.
@3: That sounds like a personal problem.
I thought it meant, "I don't unilaterally service straight men like all those people advertising on Whatsit who really ought to be given their own sexual orientation," but the youth interpretation Mr Johnnie advances has legs as well.

But I maintain once again that we could use a new vocabulary of bisexuality to make various strains about equally comprehensible as monosexuality.
@7 -- watch out, or you're going to make all those people who start their sentences with "I'm 100% straight, but..." bisexual.
she's an equal opportunity sexual
I see her concern. A lot of lesbians won't date bi women and a lot of guys hear it and think threesome. I say this as someone not too far out of undergrad.
You know Danny, you can say that you're "not like other gay people" but nobody has to believe you.......
I guess she could always say she's "a REAL bisexual," but then perhaps a lot of those drunk straight girls are too...

Concur that this girl just has to gonad-of-choice up and call herself what she is. That's the sort of thing that breaks down stereotypes, whether they're based on sexual orientation, race, diagnosis or anything. It's not fair for the people who go first and get the full brunt. Making society less stupid is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
I always tell I'm not one of those gays, meaning precisely obnoxiously feminine and rampantly promiscuous whores.

I feel this is an obligation due to havoc these obnoxious gay sluts bring to the public perception of gays.
Just wanted to tip my hat to all the drunk straight chicks out there.
i think queer and bi dyke both work in this situation. actually bi works ok by itself, because the short hand is more in use in the queer community. if you told me you were "bisexual" i'd guess that you make out with girls when yr drunk but don't date them. it's usually considered fair to call yourself a dyke if you mostly date women, but sometimes boys, but calling yourself a lesbian would give the wrong impression.
also i think this a little different than those other situations. the other situations are stereotypes that have a couple grains of truth but are unfairly applied, usually homophobicly, to the whole population. she's right that at most colleges the great majority of bisexual girls will be the other kind. people assuming that about her, are usually right in their assumption. it's fair that she wants to identify herself to potential female romantic partners, while not implying that she is a lesbian.
@13, Hey, thanks for that helping of slut shaming and internalized homophobia. You're a real peach.
Oh individuality, how I love thee.

"Not one of THOSE [insert collective noun]" is an incredibly unhelpful phrase, I find, because it can mean pretty much anything the speaker wants it to mean. Unfortunately, unless you're talking to someone who knows you really well (and therefore probably wouldn't need the qualifier anyway), the person you're speaking to is likely to assume it means something quite different to what you intended. As evidenced by the different interpretations here.

Personally, my ears tend to shut off a bit when I hear phrases like "Not one of THOSE..." or "I'm not your average..." because it always sounds to me like they're saying, "Oh, but I'm different! I'm an individual! I don't fit the group, I'm breaking away, I'm my own person, look, look!"

That's not a bad thing, of course; I'm all for being your own person. But I do grow weary of hearing, "I'm different, I'm not like everybody else," when the implication is that everybody else is therefore the same. It's seeking validation of your own individuality by shoving everyone else into the same narrow box in your mind. Breaking the stereotype and reinforcing it at the same time.

Then again, I'm a grumpy old woman who hasn't had enough sleep, so everything I say should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Oh, and as far as what to call yourself - when people ask me, I just shrug and say, "I dunno. I like men and women, but men more. Call me whatever you will."
I say "I'm bisexual". Because I am.

So are you. So if it's germane, tell people that. "I'm bi". Simple as that.

If people want to put you in some stereotyped and incorrect box, correct their misapprehension. Politely or not, depending on the circumstances. That's how adults handle this situation.

That's right on.

And just as importantly, that just gives you an opportunity to discuss why the stereotypes that your "label" endows you with are wrong. Even if they actually apply to you. I like to play that game on occasion, playing the devil's advocate and saying things like "Did I say I was a slut? I said I was bisexual. Not all bisexuals are sluts, you know."

Oh, sure, I *am* a slut, but you know what? Not all bisexuals are sluts, you know.
God, 18-year-olds are insecure morons.
It amazes me how often progress towards tolerance is accompanied by a search for new groups to judge, mock, and hate.

"Don't judge me! You must accept me as a bisexual woman/lesbian/gay man! Because I am not like those drunk party girls/bull dykes/mincing sluts!"

Is it wrong to be a a curious tipsy sophomore? It it wrong to like lots of sex with lots of different people? Is it wrong to play softball and be angry about patriarchy?

Here's a higher standard to aim for: Try to respect members of even those groups that your social circles and the politics du jour would give you permission to make fun of.
I like that phrasing, F.A.W. i seem to have a talent for getting banned from gay-focused facebook groups for expressing it.

like xtians?
@5 it would totally matter (to me) if you were a "regular gay guy" vs a flaming effeminate homo. I generally avoid people with big, attention-seeking personality affects. I'm not down with fratboy broham's or young dotcom richkidz either. Personalities matter. Delivery matters. Appearance matters.

So don't fool yourself with lines such as "I'd like to think you'd still talk to me if..." I wouldn't. If the most visible aspect of a person's personality is where they like to stick their dick, I wager that person doesn't have much to say that could interest me.
What 26 said to 5. If your orientation (or your religion, your politics, your ink, etc.) is your attempt to substitute for personality, you're painfully boring and I wouldn't want to spend time around you.

The best way to avoid being seen as one of those bisexuals? Exactly what LW said in her last sentence. If someone asks, you can give more than one word worth of explanations. If you're interested in someone, make a pass at them. Otherwise, it's not really germane. One of the things that makes those bis so annoying is that they have to constantly draw attention to it. See my first paragraph.
Yeah this is a non issue.

Anyone who assumes that every female bisexual is just trying to get instagrammed more than her sorority sisters at a spring break party (not that there's something wrong w/ that) is a jackass, with a revealing distrust for women.

And the purported lesbian ambivalence toward bisexuals (if that's whose judgement she is concerned about) is often overstated. It feels like one of those things that gets blown out of proportion in online discourse or in abstract conversations. I myself have probably exaggerated it at times. In the real world, lesbians be all up on bisexuals. Myself included...

What about a quiet, effeminate, homo wallflower? Not a guy who seems about to break into a show tune with every second sentence, but a guy who also can't open his mouth with out a delicate macrame purse falling out of it. Does he need to alter his self-expression to appeal to you?
@26 and @27:
Who said anything about attention-getting? There are plenty of femme boys who aren't trying to advertise their queerness, it's just obvious. You're talking about the wildly, loudly insecure asshole segment of the gay population, which is exactly analogous to the insecure asshole segment of the straight population (as you pointed out). I'm not interested in talking to either kind- and I'm not interested in talking to the overly judgmental shaming asshole segment of either kind as well.
Do people really ask each other constantly to identify their orientation? Except on dating sites, I find that it's pretty easy to just be myself. If I'm hitting on you, I'm probably interested in you. Why would it matter who else I'm attracted to?
Ms Erica - While I agree that it hardly seems the sort of question likely to come up often, specific orientation is a bigger thing in non-straight/ish circles. Presentation of one's specific variety of non-straightness can come up in many more ways than A hitting on B. And even in that context, some people are thinking three steps ahead at the beginning, some have dealbreakers that might verge on it, and others just tend to talk about their social lives. I personally don't know why when one can quote literature in nine conversational openings out of ten, but there's nowt so queer as folk.
Speaking as someone rather androgynous: If I were to be put on trial for every time I've been accused of flaunting my sexuality, paying ten dollars every time I was found guilty and receiving one dollar every time I was found innocent (not just not guilty, but actually innocent), I'd be able to afford a villa in the north of France.

Or, rephrased: Yes, some effeminate men do flaunt their homosexuality fairly regularly (or more often). But some straight people are prodigiously liberal in their definitions of what constitutes flaunting, while others are rather strict.

Aside on the topic of effeminacy: I remember (and a search has confirmed) Chris Evert portraying the wife of Dana Carvey's character Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual, but cannot be absolutely certain that the occasion on which she did so happened to be the character's first appearance. What a trivia question that could make.
15 year old me is sorry for perpetuating this stereotype.
// but I'm not one of those bisexuals.
@33, does a whole conversation then follow to elaborate on exactly what kind of women the person will date, and what kind of men? how butch, how old, how smart, how built, how educated, how political, how into opera?

I will cop to having loads of hetero privilege, and of course people have to talk about something, but it still seems weird to me. I guess it seems less weird if I think of it as a friendly conversation which touches on one's experiences dating and one's taste in, say, movie stars.

But treating it as a way to figure out dealbreakers or "thinking three steps ahead at the beginning" just seems like a fool's errand, since so much of what brings two people together is unpredictable and based on pheromones and other characteristics which can't be spelled out.
edit: that's to vennominon @32, not 33.
If the problem is that 95% of 18 y.o. girls who say they're bisexual are drunk, then only mention your orientation when you're sober, LW.
Ms Erica - "Thinking three steps ahead at the beginning" was an attempt at a nice way of saying that some people's "casual" sex or dating is somewhat less causal than their partners may think it. Some people who want a partner with characteristic X are perfectly content to have fun with partners without it, or to start a relationship without establishing whether it has serious long-term potential or not; others are more firm about it and don't start what they've already decided won't last. It's not so much saying they're going to try to force a connection without regard to pheromones, etc. as it is saying that it's as easy to fall in love with a Y as a Z.

I don't know that I've ever advocated one way over another; I was just relating what I've seen in action.
> don't start what they've already decided won't last

But they decide whether it will last based on whether the person says she's a lesbian or bisexual? That just seems so weird to me.

As an avid SNL watcher during the Dana Carvey era (late 80s-early 90s), I am quite certain that the Lyle The Effeminate Heterosexual from the episode with Chris Evert was a one-off sketch, the first and only time it was done. The premise, of course, is that everyone in his life thinks he's gay, much to Lyle's bemused chagrin ("Whaaat?? That's insane!"), with the eventual punchline that his wife (Evert) does, even when confronted by the woman he's been having an affair with.

I think they pretty much exhausted the trope in this single episode, so thankfully they didn't drag it out as a recurring show like "It's Pat!" (ugh). Carvey was still uproariously hilarious though. "Billy's taking art? What the hell for!"

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet, but the salient point to me in the letter isn't so much LW's sexual orientation or how to negotiate it--It's the fact that she claims everybody she knew while growing up "liked both girls and boys", and that she went to the same school from kindergarten up through high school(??). Her social background is, to say the least, unusual, and in my opinion deeply odd. I think her town has some sort of omnisexual-group-centered-ultra-closeness thing going on here, if she purports to know everyone's (bi)sexual orientation so intimately.

All of this would by far be the biggest obstacle in translating her youth experience into college, and especially into the adult world.
Ah yes, I remember the early college angst well. Raging against the heavens, cursing Katy Perry's name, all that jazz. Eventually, I decided that, although "pansexual" is probably more technically correct and "queer" is just so darn lovely and inclusive, I would continue to identify as "bisexual" out of solidarity/spite.

Also, NOOTB would do well not to judge those drunk straight chicks too harshly, both for the moral reasons pointed out by @22 and because it may well save her some additional angst when those straight party girls want to make out with HER.
Fact: "You're not my type of gay, you're too femme/butch/operatic/dramatic/nerdy/whatever" is fucking horseshit. If you don't like someone, that's fine, but don't act like anyone's behavior has some sort of bearing on their orientation.
@41, the LW didn't say that everyone at her school was bisexual, but that everyone knew SHE was bisexual because of her actions.

Shit--you're right, and I should have read more carefully. Damn my early morning bleary-eyed dyslexia.

I still think she comes from a rather weird upbringing, though.
Ms Erica - Well, many dealbreakers seem strange. I'd place it as similar to Baptists who won't date Methodists.

M? Beatles - Apparently it was done twice. I had another vague memory of seeing the second run with another cast member as Mrs Lyle. I'm surprised it wasn't a long-running character; anti-gay jokes usually have quite a long shelf life.

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