Saying you’re bisexual is no substitute for being interesting
You’re not Cara Delevingne hun ok?
So this is it: the gay-straight binary is collapsing and a brave new world is dawning, populated by those who are utterly, lavishly at ease with their sexuality.
According to a recent YouGov survey 49 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 chose a position other than exclusively heterosexual.
And in this new sexual utopia the old categories – heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual – are eroding, collapsing and becoming something else. Now you can be a “bisexual homoromantic”, part of a “forward-thinking movement” where anyone can define themselves whatever way they see fit. It’s an open and equal society where anything goes and everyone’s accepted.
There’s nothing wrong with a lot of this. But there’s also plenty to be suspicious about, especially when people start chucking about labels like “bisexual homoromantic”. How many of those 49 per cent polled by YouGov d’you reckon have actually slept with a member of the same sex? My guess is not many.
Human sexuality has always been as wide as Joey Barton’s ego, that’s nothing new. We all have mates who, given enough glasses of rioja, will take it upon themselves to inform you all about their fluid approach to sexuality. And maybe one night Amy did get off with five girls in Pryzm. And maybe one night Matthew did once give his prefect a toothy blowjob back at boarding school. And maybe you can appreciate the male/female form, and wouldn’t be opposed to copping off with a guy/girl on your corridor.
Let’s be honest for a minute though: you never actually will take your same sex experiments very far. You might fantasise about it, but for the most part sexual fantasy is a refuge from reality, not reality itself.
The 49 per centers are not doing this because they’re actually or actively bisexual. They’re making a lifestyle choice, en masse. It’s a way of impressing other people – an identity allowing them to join a “movement of forward thinking people”, and it’s something very strange and very new.
Today, identifying as not quite straight is to identify as bolder, better and fairer than someone who languishes in the frigid old monochrome of heterosexuality. Most importantly, this brave new identity allows the people who embrace it to feel more interesting than everyone else, regardless of whether they do actually sleep with people of the same sex.
It says a lot about how desperate young people are to feel unique and special that the rough magic of heterosexuality, of being average and unspectacular, is not enough to satiate them. No one wants to be the norm but if everyone is odd and separate it simply manufactures a new normal.
The real tragedy is how unnecessary all of this is. Growing up on Facebook has conditioned us to dine out on the supposed drama of other people’s lives: their photos, their statuses, their relationships. There’s a general terror of being misunderstood and disliked. Worst of all is to be boring.
Obsessed with our own experience and whether or not other people will find it entertaining, we’ve started to lie about who we want to fuck and why. There’s a lot of prattle out there – and a huge desire to be like Cara Delevigne or Kristen Stewart – but it doesn’t add up to much more than a scramble to find a new moral high ground.
If a new hierarchy of labels emerges and it becomes a social faux pas not to be a bicurious adventurer or whatever, we’ll end up creating a situation where people have to come out as being straight. Gore Vidal once described sexual categories as dangerous and stupid. He was right.
All they do is narrow and simplify experience. People who cover themselves in labels tend to get stuck in a static, ever more inadequate version of themselves. And they forget something important: people are infinitely interesting, mysterious, complex – in spite of the lies they tell, not because of them.