Gay or Straight, Most People Think Bisexuality Isn’t Real

America still doesn't know what to do with those attracted to both genders.

“Frenchie Davis of The Voice and American Idol comes out as a lesbian”—I read that headline on PHL 17’s website, and I knew before reading more that it was incorrect. In fact, I had only a dim idea of who Frenchie Davis was because when I hear the name Frenchie, I still think of the character in the movie Grease, who was supposed to be 16 but was played by someone old enough to be her mother. But it doesn’t matter who the story’s about. The pattern is the same when it comes to female celebs who admit they’re in a relationship with another woman: They’re immediately branded as “lesbians,” even when the label does not apply.

Davis doesn’t identify herself as a lesbian, the article PHL 17 cites:

“I love the gays,” she says. “I love the gay boys. They have that awesome, masculine energy, but there’s also something else going on as well.”

There’s also something else going on with Davis. She’s been dating a woman for the past year.

“I wasn’t out before the relationship, but I wasn’t in,” she says. “I dated men and women, though lesbians weren’t feeling the bisexual thing. Now I’m in love with a woman I think I can be with forever.”

The bisexual thing. It’s not just the lesbians who aren’t feeling it—it’s the mainstream media too (is PHL 17 the mainstream media? I’m not clear on that). Maybe bisexuality is too confusing, too ill-defined. We all embrace the clear, pure light of either/or: Day/night. Male/female. Up/down. Life/death. Black/white. Yin/yang. Straight/gay.

Only it doesn’t always work so perfectly. There are many people who feel attraction to both genders—or who are indifferent to gender entirely, who are just attracted to people and deal with the gendered parts when things get intimate. How is it possible that high-schoolers think it’s chic (though a little passe) to be bi, but our mouthpieces of popular celebrity culture don’t know what to do with famous people who have fluid sexuality?

Even after all these years of progress and activism related to sexual orientation and gender, there remains a core disbelief among gay and straight that bisexuality exists. Some think it’s a phase girls go through in college; others think it’s a bullshit position a guy takes because he’s afraid to be gay. It’s not validated on either side of the aisle, so to speak. So bisexuals disappear into headlines: Frenchie Davis is a lesbian. Score 1 for the absolutist team.

As the civil rights movement for gays and lesbians moves forward, being gay thankfully becomes more acceptable. The most recent cover story in Entertainment Weekly is about the way celeb disclosures of homosexuality hardly make a ripple anymore. What used to be front-page stuff is now a big yawn. Who’s gay? The guy who played Spock? Whatever.

By the time all gays and lesbians have the right to marry—the most heteronormative thing a radical minority could do—it’ll become increasingly understood that some people are gay and some are straight and that’s just the way life is. I’m hoping that 10 years from now, we won’t have to hear about high-school kids committing suicide because they feel alienated by their sexuality.

And that means any sexuality, including a sort of vague feeling that people are people and that this one’s attractive and that one’s not and … gender? Um, yeah. I guess. Kids should know that not making a choice is a choice they’re able to make—neither/nor. Or just be like Frenchie—have something going on.