These are definitions from several leading bisexual organizations:
Bisexuals are people who have the innate capacity to form enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender. There may be an individual preference for one gender over others. Bisexuality is not synonymous with being polyamorous. Individual bisexual people may be celibate, monogamous or non-monogamous just as individual straight, lesbian or gay people can be.
The BRC uses bisexual as an umbrella term for people who recognize and honor their potential for sexual and emotional attraction to more than one gender (pansexual, fluid, omnisexual, queer, and all other free-identifiers). We celebrate and affirm the diversity of identity and expression regardless of labels.
Identifying as Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual or Queer simply means that you were born with the capacity to be attracted to people regardless of someone’s sexual or gender identity.
Bisexuality is the potential to feel attracted to and to engage in sexual and/or romantic relationships with people of any sex or gender. A bisexual person may not be equally attracted to men and women. The degree of attraction to any sex can be fluid and may change over time.
Bisexuals, like all people, have a wide variety of relationships. Sexual involvement with both a man and a woman at the same time is not necessary for all bisexuals. Just like anyone else, bisexuals may be single, have one partner or have more than one partner.
Self-perception is the key to a bisexual identity. Many people engage in sexual activity with partners of more than one sex over the course of their lives but do not identify as bisexual. People who have had sex with only one gender, or who have not had sex at all, may identify as bisexual because of their attractions, fantasies or openness to a sexual or romantic relationship with someone of any sex.
Bisexual isn’t about there being only “two sexes”
Some people get hung up on the ‘bi’ and protest that gender isn’t binary. They claim that identifying as bisexual is tantamount to saying trans people don’t exist, or that you’re not attracted to them, or that you’re only into masculine men and feminine women. However many people using the identity “bisexual” disagree.
In traditional dictionaries:
- Homosexual is defined as “only attracted to the same sex”
- Heterosexual is defined as “only attracted to the opposite sex”
So why then dismiss bisexuality as being about “only men and women” when the definitions of hetero- and homo- don’t mention those? And why don’t the critics of the word also have a go at people using “heterosexual” or “homosexual” on the grounds of the words being even more restricted?
In this modern age with a wider understanding of gender some people choose to re-state those as:
- Homosexual- “attracted to people of a broadly similar gender”
- Heterosexual - “attracted to people of a broadly different gender”
In fact many people say there’s more than two genders, but if two options are either “similar to me” or “different to me” then we think it’s clear that “both” can refer to those two options rather than two perceived sexes.
Bisexuality isn’t an attempt to pigeonhole gender, it’s the freedom to feel attraction without blinkers! But we agree that ‘both’ is an oddly limiting word for the category of “everyone else” - this is why we say “more than one gender” at the Bisexual Index. Ultimately though, we don’t think anyone is obliged to use the word “bisexual”, and we agree there’s some way to go before our definition is the most common one.
What does it mean to be bisexual? It’s simple actually —
Bisexuals = people who can ♥ people of same gender as themselves + can ♥ people of different genders/gender presentations from themselves
Formal Definition: Bisexuals are people with the (some include “inborn” or “innate”) capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, (some include “spiritual”) and/or emotional attractions to:
(1) those of the same gender as themselves
(2) those of different genders/gender presentations from themselves.
There may be an individual attraction for one gender or gender presentation which can also be fluid and changeable over time.
Bisexuality is not synonymous with being polyamorous (some include “or promiscuous”). Individual bisexual people may be celibate, asexual, monogamous or non-monogamous just as individual straight, lesbian or gay people can be.
No matter what their own gender/gender presentation or the gender/gender presentation of the person they are partnered with, bisexual people remain bisexual. They do not suddenly switch orientation as if by magic when they enter into a relationship.