According to the 2016 Movement Advancement Project Report “Invisible Majority,” bisexual people are actually much more likely to be parents than gay or lesbian people; two thirds of queer parents, in fact, identify primarily as bisexual. So as September comes to a close — which, by the way, is Bisexual Awareness Month — we decided to ask our Instagram audience (20% of whom say they identify as bisexual) about some of the particular concerns and challenges facing bisexual parents.
Here are five of the most commons concerns we’ve heard from bisexual parents in our community:
1) It’s Not ‘Just a Phase’
Many biseuxal dads said that friends and family — even those within the LGBTQ community — often think of bisexuality as a “phase” they are going through, and that they will eventually “choose” a side one day. “You can actually just be a bisexual!” one dad wrote to us, exasperated.
Michal MacDonald, a bisexual dad we featured several years ago, told us that on his dates with other men, guys tend to be surprised to learn that he has biological children. “But once I explain that I am bisexual, it’s usually much more easily understood,” he said. He is more irritated, though, when people question or outright refuse to recognize his bisexuality. “While I understand and have witnessed many guys who use bisexuality as a “stepping stone” of sorts when coming out,” he said, it does not mean that “bisexuality is not real or valid.”
2) Bisexual Erasure
One concern shared by lots of bisexual people is the idea that they are somehow less part of the queer community if they are in a different-sex relationship. This is particularly true for parents, who are perceived as part of a heteronormative family. Lewis Oakley, a bisexual advocate, wrote about his fear of “bi erasure” when he first became a dad. Outsiders already assume I’m straight,” he wrote. “I’m determined to fight that.”
Oakley does recognize the privilege associated with being able to “pass” in a heterosexual relationship.”It’s a blessing and a curse that I do have the option to stay quiet. Bisexuals have always faced this issue of blending in. For lesbian parents it’s quite apparent visually that they are LGBT+ parents but anyone looking at my family would think we are a straight couple. That poses its own issues – I’ve a lifetime of coming out ahead of me.”
3) Alienation from the LGBTQ Community
Many bisexuals say they feel ostracized from the broader LGBTQ community — particularly if they are in a different-sex relationship. Being in a relationship with a woman, James Shoemaker, who is a bisexual dad of three, told us that he felt alienated from much of the LGBTQ activism that began to take hold in the 1980s and 1990s while he was dating a woman. “I felt I could not act as a representative for gay rights while married to a woman and raising kids with her,” he said.
When his youngest daughter turned 18, he and his wife split and, and James began to date other men. Since reentering the world of same-sex dating, he says he once again has to confront people’s misconceptions about his bisexuality. “It’s not just gay guys looking for more social acceptance,” James said, noting that “Bi rights” has not really caught the public’s attention in the same way as “gay rights”.
4) Difficulty Co-Parenting
Many bisexuals become parents while in a different-sex relationship — if the relationship ends, and a father ends up in a same-sex relationship, it can make co-parenting particularly difficult. Michael MacDonald said co-parenting with his ex-wife is the most difficult part of being a bisexual father. It’s “one of the hardest things in the world,” he said. He and his ex overcome any potential difficulty, though, by always putting the children first. “As long as they are happy, healthy and loved, that is all that matters,” he said. “I’m so fortunate to have such an incredible/pain in the butt partner to help me raise these amazing little girls.”
5) Bisexuals Are Not Promiscuous
Another myth that persists about bisexual people is that they are somehow more promiscuous than straight people or other queer people — and that this, in turn, makes them poor parents. “I am not greedy, I just like men and women,” said one responder to our Instagram survey. A contributor to a reddit thread titled, “Why aren’t more bi dads out?” listed this stereotype as one of the reasons he continues to stay in the closet. “What’s the impetus to live openly,” he asked, “If you’re in a monogamous straight relationship?”
Are you a bisexual dad? We’d love to feature your family! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org