The Advocate on Bisexuality and Fluidity

A useful article in The Advocate on bisexuality and fluidity:

Exploring the Umbrella: Bisexuality and Fluidity

A growing body of research indicates that for some people, sexual attractions change over time. But that’s not an endorsement of ‘reparative therapy,’ nor is it a bad thing for our movement.

For years, much of the case for LGBT rights has been based on the argument that sexual orientation is fixed and immutable — baby, we were born this way, and it’s wrong to discriminate against us for something we didn’t choose.

But an increasing body of social science research posits that a sizable number of people experience some degree of fluidity in their sexual and romantic attractions: being drawn to the same gender at one point in their life, the opposite gender at another. Researchers emphasize that this is not something that can be imposed from without, as “ex-gay” therapy would attempt to do, but something that occurs from within. Although our supporters already recognize that why we love who we love is irrelevant, embracing fluid orientations may call for a new approach in advocating for our rights.

The research to date indicates that fluidity is more common among women than among men, but scientists note that this could change as studies continue. Reliable data has only emerged in recent years, but there are now several studies that have found that 10 to 14 percent of American women describe themselves as mostly, but not completely heterosexual, and 6 to 9 percent of American men who self-identify the same way, says Lisa Diamond, a professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. Studies in other countries have found the same general range, she says.

“It’s far more common to be someone who is a little bit attracted to the same sex than someone who is exclusively attracted to the same sex,” says Diamond, author of the 2008 book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire. Read more…

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New York Times on bisexual experience and research

From the New York Times, 5th January 2014.

Bisexual: A Label With Layers

Tom Daley Comes Out as Bisexual, Igniting L.G.B.T. Debate

by Michael Shulman

Those six little words, tossed off like a request to please hold the mustard, were among the most deconstructed in Tom Daley’s YouTube video last month, in which the 19-year-old British Olympic diver announced that he was dating a man.

Leaning against Union Jack pillows, he continued, “But, I mean, right now I’m dating a guy, and I couldn’t be happier.” Mr. Daley’s message was sweet and simple, and gay rights advocates seemed thrilled to welcome an out-and-proud athlete into their ranks. (The cattier comments came later, when the “guy” was reported by numerous tabloids and blogs to be the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who is two decades his senior.)

But the cheers were premature, or at least qualified. Despite the trending Twitter hashtag #TomGayley, Mr. Daley never used the word “gay,” and there was the matter of his still fancying girls. While many commenters embraced the ambiguity (“I don’t care if Tom Daley’s gay or bi or whatever … He’s still fit,” one tweeted), others raised eyebrows.

Was it a disclaimer? A cop-out? A ploy to hold on to fans? Was he being greedy, as some joked? Or was he, as the video’s blushing tone suggested, simply caught up in the heady disorientation of first love, a place too intoxicating for labels? Read more…

Same-sex marriage and BiUK

More on same-sex marriage and bisexuality (and BiUK) over on http://rewritingtherules.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/same-sex-marriage-opening-up-and-closing-down/

Bisexuality in UK news

This week bisexuality has been in the UK news as conservative MP, Daniel Kawczynski has come out as bisexual. Interestingly, for the first time it seems, Daniel himself came out to his association rather than being outed by the press having previously claimed a different identity. Also, the media reporting – and the response of his political party – have been positive, and have used the word ‘bisexuality’ rather than slipping into assuming this means that he is gay – as in the case of past media reporting of bisexual politicians.

Following the story, Radio 4 interviewed BiUK member, Edward Lord, about his own experience of being a bisexual public and political figure. You can read his blog about this, and follow links to the story and radio interview, here.

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On Monday this week, I accepted an invitation to be interviewed by Eddie Mair on Radio 4′s PM programme (minutes 46-52) to give a response to the decision of Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski to come out as bisexual.

I guess I was asked to appear because I, like Mr Kawczynski, am also an elected public official who happens to be bi, and who was profiled by Stonewall last year along with sixteen other lesbian, gay and bisexual people as a role model (see pages 26 and 27). Read more…

 

 

Bisexual people exist (again): News release for Cornell sexual orientation study

Cornell University issued the following news release:

Pupil dilation reveals sexual orientation in new Cornell study

There is a popular belief that sexual orientation can be revealed by pupil dilation to attractive people, yet until now there was no scientific evidence.

For the first time, researchers at Cornell University used a specialized infrared lens to measure pupillary changes to participants watching erotic videos.

Pupils were highly telling: they widened most to videos of people who participants found attractive, thereby revealing where they were on the sexual spectrum from heterosexual to homosexual.

The findings were published August 3 in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

Previous research explored these mechanisms either by simply asking people about their sexuality, or by using physiological measures such as assessing their genital arousal.

These methods, however, come with substantial problems.

“We wanted to find an alternative measure that would be an automatic indication of sexual orientation, but without being as invasive as previous measures. Pupillary responses are exactly that,” says Gerulf Rieger, lead author and research fellow at Cornell.

“With this new technology we are able to explore sexual orientation of people who would never participate in a study on genital arousal, such as people from traditional cultures. This will give us a much better understanding how sexuality is expressed across the planet.”

The new Cornell study adds considerably more to the field of sexuality research than merely a novel measure.

As expected, heterosexual men showed strong pupillary responses to sexual videos of women, and little to men; heterosexual women, however, showed pupillary responses to both sexes.

This result confirms previous research suggesting that women have a very different type of sexuality than men.

Moreover, the new study feeds into a long-lasting debate on male bisexuality.

Previous notions were that most bisexual men do not base their sexual identity on their physiological sexual arousal but on romantic and identity issues.

Contrary to this claim, bisexual men in the new study showed substantial pupil dilations to sexual videos of both men and women.

“We can now finally argue that a flexible sexual desire is not simply restricted to women – some men have it, too, and it is reflected in their pupils,” says Ritch C. Savin-Williams, co-author and professor in Human Development at Cornell.

“In fact, not even a division into ‘straight,’ ‘bi,’ and ‘gay’ tells the full story. Men who identity as ‘mostly straight’ really exist both in their identity and their pupil response; they are more aroused to males than straight men, but much less so than both bisexual and gay men,” Savin-Williams notes.

The researchers are confident that their new measure will aid in understanding these groups better and point to a range of sexualities that has been ignored in previous research.

Risk and resilience study

New Canadian bisexuality survey launched, dealing with biphobia and mental health. Great video here!

 

Bisexual identities project

There is an update of Surya Monro’s bisexual identities project (and forthcoming book!) here.

Radio 4 programme on bisexuality

Radio 4 programme on bisexuality and sexual fluidity. BiUK mentioned on website! Nice one The Bisexual Index.

Listen again available for a week or so:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jhdgl

Responses to the programme are being compiled here:

http://bisexualftw.tumblr.com/post/24559242078/reaction-to-bbc-radio4s-a-straight-question

Lack of bisexual community leading to adverse mental health?

From The British Psychological Society:

Lack of bisexual community leading to adverse mental health?

The lack of a bisexual community could be negatively impacting the health of men attracted to both males and females. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Journal of Bisexuality, which showed guys believe a lack of such a group – that would enable them to be more involved with likeminded adults – significantly affects their wellbeing.

Brian Dodge, Associate Professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, found the stigma bisexual people experience at the hands of both heterosexual and homosexual individuals plays a big part in making them feel isolated.

The investigation revealed this biphobia also contributed to the social stress felt by bisexual males in their everyday lives.

Mr Dodge stated: “Being bisexual, not having a community to be involved with, not having people they could disclose to, homosexual or heterosexual, was tied to their experiences of adverse mental health.

Meg comments: When we put together The Bisexuality Report early this year, we reviewed the evidence from a number of countries and found that bisexual people consistently experienced more mental health problems and distress than heterosexual, and lesbian and gay people. This concurs with Brian Dodge’s recent findings.

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The H-word: Happiness and bisexuality

Meg writes:

I’m presenting at the PACE/DIVA event on happiness on Tuesday 22nd May. Hope to see people there. You can read about my presentation over on Rewriting-the-Rules which deals with bisexuality and mental health, among other things. I’ll be presenting on similar matters at BiReCon later this summer.