A Brief Bisexuality History

Hello all! Today I’m gonna say a few things about bisexuality!

The word “bisexual” originates from botany. An 1810 science book states that “Many flowers have both stamens and pistils, and are therefore considered bisexual or hermaphrodite.” Thus, the original meaning was having “male” and “female” parts in one organism. (Side note: A human who is born with anatomy outside the “norm” of male or female is today called “intersex”, as “hermaphrodite” is considered offensive.) The word “bisexual” was also occasionally used to mean “unisex/gender neutral”, as in this blurb about “bisexual pronouns” from 1901. 

So, how did it come to be a label for a sexual orientation? Well, in the early 1900s, a popular view of same-sex desire was “inversion theory”. This theory, put forth by straight male psychologists, proposed that gay men and lesbian women were sexual “inverts”: people who appeared physically male or female on the outside, but internally/mentally (or “psychically”) were of the “opposite” anatomical sex.

For people whose desires were not exclusively gay or exclusively straight, the theory said they had “psychical hermaphroditism”, so that their desire for women stemmed from their “male psyche” and their desire for men stemmed from their “female psyche”. Some psychologists even stated that bisexual desire indicated a person was “immature”, as in not fully developed. Richard von Krafft-Ebing, in his 1894 book Psychopathia Sexualis, wrote several case studies of “Psychical Hermaphroditism”, including the case of “Mrs. M., aged 44”, who “exemplifies the fact that an inverted and a normal sexual instinct may be united in one person, be it man or woman. […] Her sexual feeling would be directed at one time to women, at another to men.” Another case detailed in this text is that of Mr. X, age 28: “With reference to his sexual inclinations, the patient is still uncertain whether he feels more inclination toward the opposite sex or toward his own sex.” These people whose sexual attractions were a “combination” of “normal” (straight) and “inverted” (gay) would later be deemed “bisexual”.

When gay rights movements began later in the 1900s, men who we would today call bisexual were active in gay men’s groups, and women who we would today call bisexual were active in lesbian groups. In many circles of society back then (e.g. within the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s) being exclusively attracted to the same gender was not a requirement to identify as gay/lesbian. Here, “gay” was used as an umbrella term for all non-straight and/or transgender people.

In other circles, if one was not exclusively gay or exclusively straight, they would be ostracized from both straight and gay communities. For example, Al Weininger, the vice president of the Society for Human Rights, the first known gay men’s organization in the United States (est. 1924), was bisexual and married. He had to keep this a secret, as the group denied membership to bisexuals, believing that they would be less committed to the cause.

A bisexual activist, Brenda Howard, is known as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating the first Pride March in 1970. Another bisexual, Bill Beasley, was the core organizer of the first Los Angeles Gay Pride March in 1972.

In the 60s and 70s, second-wave feminism led to people who expressed attraction to more than one gender being fully ousted from gay and lesbian communities. Many bisexuals were tired of hiding a part of themselves anyway. Thus, by the mid-70s to early 80s, bisexuals had formed their own communities or subgroups. Remnants of this separation (and the prior “fusion” of bisexuals into gay groups) still remain in the names of longstanding LGBT organizations such as:

  • PFLAG – “Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays” (est. 1973)
  • SAGE – “Senior Action in a Gay Environment” (est. 1979 – now re-acronymed as “Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders”
  • GLAAD – “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation” (est. 1985)
  • LAGBAC – “Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago” (est 1987)
  • GLSEN – “Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network” (est. 1990)
  • COLAGE – “Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere” (est. 1990)

During the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, bisexual men were vilified as a collective scapegoat for the spread of “the gay disease” to straight people. BiPOL, a bisexual political action group, was formed in 1983 to combat this negative stereotype and to advocate for bisexuals. In 1984, BiPOL sponsored the first bisexual rights rally, outside the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

On December 5 1998, the Bisexual Pride flag designed by Michael Page was unveiled, and in 1999, the first Celebrate Bisexuality Day (September 23) was organized by Michael Page, Gigi Raven Wilbur, and Wendy Curry.

As you can see, it has been a long long road from the misguided “Bisexuals are psychical hermaphrodites” to the correct “Bisexuals are people who have attraction to more than one gender”!

For decades now, bisexuals have been fighting stereotypes and misinformation, such as “Bisexuals are slutty/greedy/more likely to cheat on me”, or “Bisexuality is a phase/They’re gays in denial/They’re straights faking it for attention”, or “Bisexuality reinforces the gender binary/ Bisexuals are limited to two genders/Bisexuals won’t date trans or nonbinary people”. In fact, none of these are true.

I will close with a quote from the 1990 Bisexual Manifesto.

We are tired of being analyzed, defined and represented by people other than ourselves, or worse yet, not considered at all. We are frustrated by the imposed isolation and invisibility that comes from being told or expected to choose either a homosexual or heterosexual identity.

Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have “two” sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders.

Do not mistake our fluidity for confusion, irresponsibility, or an inability to commit. Do not equate promiscuity, infidelity, or unsafe sexual behavior with bisexuality. Those are human traits that cross all sexual orientations. Nothing should be assumed about anyone’s sexuality, including your own.

Sources cited:

My experience with Name and Gender marker change.

Hello everyone, Faye here. Today I am writing about my Name and Gender marker change, here in the state of Texas in Travis county. 
I am not a Lawyer this my Experience. 

I followed a older version of this guide .(Link is to the current version as of this blog post). Now this is what I did. 

First Step: Start HRT

I started HRT, awhile ago @ the Kind clinic.  after some time I was able to request the Physicians letter. that says the changes are permanent, and it is necessary for my Gender to be changed. 

 Step Two: Fingerprints 

I elected to use APD fingerprinting  service. It was just like when I had to get/renew my DFW airport credentials. The technician was very nice. its inkless, and they give you two cards. 

Step Three: FBI Case #

Since I was all ready in the system from DFW Airport Access Control. I was known in the system. According to everyone I spoke with at the Law library and the courts. its only needed if I had a criminal record. so I did not have to get it.  

Step Four: Fill out the form and get it reviewed

The Travis county  Law library  helped a lot as they helped correct some errors on my filling it out

Step Five: Walk over to the court house and do the court thing.

The court house accepts Checks. (link to there fee page) I was able to use my temporary checks, As they did not accept Debit and Credit cards. To do the filing it was $298. Then from there I was sent to the Family Law section of the Court. I met a nice court employee who ran around and got the papers approved by the appropriate judges. Then I had to go back down and file the signed copies of the order. The records Clerk made Certified copies for me, I payed the fee for it. This took about 2 hours. 

Step Six: Update All the things.

The first thing I did was drive to a Drivers license office, showed them the court order and got my Name and Gender changed with no issue.  it just cost me the duplicate license fee.

The next thing I did was update my name and Gender with Social Security, it went smooth. 

I updated my banks and other important things. 

I still need to update my Birth certificate, Passport. 

I need to check with the Tax office about my car registration.

Step Seven: figure out how to link your Old Identity to your Current one. Also train your voice.

As a Designer, My name is out there as Jason, on many sites. I can not just call 50+ Organizations to update my Name with them. Its awkward for background checks, and showing clients previous work I have done. 

I usually say, ” and here is a design I did under my old name, ” and go from there.