Bisexuality is probably the least understood sexual orientation in both the straight and queer communities. I must admit that even I believed some of these myths until very recently, and I’m a queer person myself. Bisexual folks spend much of their time either being erased completely from conversations, or having to combat harmful stereotypes about themselves as hypersexual, chronically unfaithful, or going through an “experimental phase.” But none of those things are true, and in order to build a more accepting community, there are certain things people need to know about being bisexual.

The most important thing to remember when someone says they are bisexual is that they get to determine how they identify. Telling someone that their sexuality is just a phase is dismissive of their experience and a way of policing their identity. Bisexuality is just one sexual orientation along a spectrum of pansexuality, queerness, polysexuality, and many, many other orientations, all of which are equally valid ways to identify. The term bisexuality has evolved over the years, too, and may have a different meaning within the bisexual community and outside of it; it’s important that we define the word the way the people who identify with the term do. Keeping that in mind, here are 13 things you should know about being bisexual.

1. Bisexual People Exist

People shouldn’t have to prove their existence to validate it, but bisexual folks experience an almost constant erasure from both the queer and straight communities. They’re often defined by the partner they’re dating, so if they’re a woman with a male partner, the world tends to see them as straight; if they have a female partner, the world tends to see them as gay. There’s not often room for them to exist somewhere in the middle of the two.

2. Bisexual Does Not Mean Gender Binary

For many people, they hear the term bisexual and assume it applies to a gender binary — two genders, men and women. But according to the Bisexual Resource Center, bisexual people often use the term to imply two meaning “same” and “different,” as in, “I am attracted to people of the same gender as me and of different genders than me.” Some gender non-conforming people use the term, too, and using the term to mean “binary genders” erases those non-binary bisexual individuals.

3. Some Bisexual People Are Attracted To Women

Bisexual people of all genders may be attracted to women. Or, they may not.

4. Some Bisexual People Are Attracted To Men

Bisexual people may also be attracted to men. Again, maybe not.

5. Some Bisexual People Are Attracted To Non-Binary People

There are also bisexual people who are attracted to (or actually are) non-binary folks.

6. Who A Bisexual Person Dates Doesn't Change Who They're Attracted To

Bisexual people who are in long-term, monogamous relationships do not lose their attraction to people of other genders, in the same way that straight people in long-term, monogamous relationship do not lose their ability to be attracted to other people. A person’s sexual orientation is not defined by their partner.

7. Bisexual People Can (And Do) Have Kids

Many bisexual people have kids! Sometimes with their current partner, sometimes with former or past partners, or sometimes through alternative fertilization methods. But don’t assume because you see someone with a kid that they’re straight, even if that person is in what appears to be a heterosexual partnership.

8. Biexuality Is About Attraction, Not Behavior

You could have had sex with one (or zero) people and still identify as bisexual. Someone’s bisexuality is not more or less valid based on the genders of people they have engaged in sexual activity with.

9. Bisexual Doesn’t Mean “Attracted To Everyone”

Even if bisexual people are attracted to more than just two genders, that attraction doesn’t translate to being attracted to every person ever. Just because someone is biesxual doesn’t mean they’re DTF anyone and everyone, nor does it mean that they’re hypersexual. Just like straight women aren’t attracted to every man they see, bisexual people are not attracted to every person that walks by them.

10. Bisexual Doesn’t Mean “Always Down For Threesomes”

Bisexual people, particularly bisexual women, do not necessarily want to fulfill some cishet dude’s porn fantasy. Some bisexual folks are into threesomes, some are not.

11. Bisexual Doesn’t Necessarily Mean “Non-Monogamous”

While some bisexual people are non-monogamous, others are not. Sexuality has no bearing on someone’s relationship structure.

12. Bisexual People Experience Higher Rates Of Mental Illness & Substance Use Than Other Populations

Studies show that bisexual folks have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders than straight, gay, or lesbian folks. They also have higher rates of substance abuse and other health problems. The erasure and biphobia they experience may contribute to these things.

13. Bisexual People Are Valid In Every Way

It’s not cool to police someone else’s identity. Bisexual people are here and they’re queer.

Images: Courtesy of taedc/Flickr; Giphy (13)