Monday, September 8, 2008

The View from the Fence: Bisexuals, Ominsexuals, Pansexuals on the Range

Defining bisexuality is not a simple endeavor. It involves more than sex, and in many cases, more than two genders. Many who do not fit within the monosexual mold of either straight or gay choose not to identify as bisexual. Those for whom the primary identifying factor is not sex have sometimes used the term bisensual, broadening the terminology to include emotional and romantic attraction. But this is not enough for those who relate emotionally, romantically and sexually to those of genders other than male and female--which is itself a patriarchally enforced dichotomy, and therefore not inclusive of all human experience. Some who fall into this second, beyond bi, category have taken monikers for themselves such as pansexual or omnisexual, pan- and omni- meaning all. And still others --bi, pan and omni sexual alike--choose the broadest identity, queer, which simply implies beyond the monosexual norm. Queer can mean gay and lesbian, bi, pan, and omni sexual. It can also include SM, transgender, gender queer, questioning, polyamorous, autosexual, and asexual.

The ambiguity of bisexual, bisensual, pansexual, omnisexual and queer leaves unresolved the lack of an identity that encompasses the full specturm of experiences among bisexuals, pansexuals and omnisexuals. I have read in some places, and discussed face to face in others, of the possibility of bi, pan and omni existing as a more or less unified identity. When I realized I was bisexual, the realization with the deepest impact was the possibility that I could be attracted to men in addition to women. My sexuality went beyond monosexual straightness, and in that I felt that I understood, in a still limited way yet more deeply than before, the identity of a close friend I'll call Z who, while she could be called omnisexual or pansexual, identifies as queer. We share the experiences of lives beyond monosexual norms. I have not felt attraction towards those beyond male or female as Z has, but I do not rule out the possibility. What matters most is the personality of the individual in question, not their gender. For this reason, I have considered identifying as queer--but then the ambiguity gets confusing. Further, queer and bi both don't mean very much. They're mostly labels, implying, in my mind very little action, or at least unclear action. Bisexual makes me feel like I'm just a sexual being, which is not the case. Bi, without the sexual, feels better, but it still implies the gender dichotomy established and enforced by monosexist patriarchy. Queer at least feels radical and world-changing--but in what way, precisely? The word inspires me only so far--to go beyond straight. But now that I'm there, what it my task? I find myself sitting on the fence.

Bisexuals have long been accused of fence sitting, unable to decide which "side" to belong to--either straight or gay. Fence sitting has gained a place of dishonor as a slur thrown around by monosexists. Perhaps straight and gay people believe that they can coerce us to jump down from the fence, but the truth of the matter is,
  1. we can choose no other place, for the liminal space between the two ends of the spectrum is the only place we can truly claim--anything else would be dishonest and ultimately destructive; and

  2. in reality, the fence was not built by us (bi, pan and omnisexuals), but by monosexuals, to do what fences do: contain all people like livestock, free to move only to a certain point. To cross the fence is to enter the turf of the fence-builder's competitor.
The only option we have is to dismantle the fence we sit atop, working toward the opening of the range. The range is the unfenced world. It is the space between limits. It is Kinsey's scale where 0=straight and 6=gay, with everything else in between is bisexual. The range will ultimately be open for all, with no restriction of travel or interaction based on gender. Bisexual, omnisexual and pansexual all will dwell in the range together, wandering in freedom and safety, the very same freedom and safety that we desire for gay and straight, which many of us once were or thought we were, but now are free to step into the unseen land that once was forbidden. We are fence sitters, tearing down the barriers. We are rangers, and we will forever walk the length and breadth of what is possible.


  1. Binary thinking is a combination of bipolar and categorical thinking. The Kinsey Scale still defines how close you are to being heter/homo - thats bipolar

  2. Why think in binaries? Why not support the extra option?


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