Updated: Feb 28

What is Bisexuality?

Bisexuality is the attraction to more than one gender.

Many sexualities are often considered subgroups of bisexuality, such as pansexuality (attraction regardless of gender identity or attraction to all gender identities). However, it is worth noting that not all people agree that pansexuality falls under the bisexual spectrum. According to the 2016 General Social Survey, 3% of Americans identify as bisexual.

How old is bisexuality?

Bisexuality is not something new.

Fragment of an Attic cup showing homosexual intercourse, 550-525 BCE (Image Source: Collection the Louvre Museum)
Fragment of an Attic cup showing homosexual intercourse, 550-525 BCE (Image Source: Collection the Louvre Museum)

Records of bisexuality date all the way back to even before ancient Roman times. Mesolithic rock art in Sicily from between 9,600 BCE and 5,000 BCE depicts phallic male figures in pairs that have been interpreted in various ways, including as hunters, acrobats, religious initiates, and depictions of male homosexual intercourse. Same-sex relationships and intercourse were also well-documented in both ancient Rome and ancient Greece, and it was often expected for men to be attracted to both other men and women.

What issues do people who are bisexual face?

Even though bisexuality has been around for a very very long time, there are sadly still problems bisexual people face:


Also known as bisexual erasure or bisexual invisibility, this is the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, news media, and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bierasure can include the belief that bisexuality itself does not exist. According to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, the lack of acceptance towards bisexuality plagues not only straight individuals but also lesbian and gay men and women, as well. Their study found that participants often used the words "confused", "different", and "experimental" to describe bisexual people.

What are some symbols of bisexuality?

Triangle Badges

Some people who identify as bisexual use a derivative of the pink triangle, one of the first symbols of homosexuality, which were forced upon gay and lesbian individuals in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Homosexual men were required to wear an inverted pink triangle, while those who were homosexual and Jewish had to wear an inverted pink triangle overlapping a yellow triangle. When these symbols were reclaimed by some gay men in the decades that followed, some bisexual men and women began using a variation that added a blue triangle, forming purple where the two overlap.

Bisexual Flag

A more common symbol of bisexuality today is the bisexual pride flag, first designed by Michael Page in 1998. It has a large magenta stripe at the top, a large blue stripe at the bottom, and a thinner lavender stripe in the middle.

Page said the following when describing the meaning of the design: "The pink color represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian). The blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (straight) and the resultant overlap color purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bi).... The key to understanding the symbolism of the Bisexual pride flag is to know that the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the 'real world,' where bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities."

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