Well, that isn’t exactly true. However, the point stands: it does not matter if one has had sex with a person of their own gender or not. A staple on the long list of “Coming Out Bi” problems, the question will still be at high risk of coming up more than a few times.
“Alright, cool. But have you had sex with ____ gender, though?”
Does it matter? Inquiries such as this common one, and the many variations of, are a peek into the everyday privilege of monosexuality.
Creep-levels aside for a moment, here’s some bisexual erasure going on. As if we pan- and bisexual folks need to prove ourselves and our sexuality to many Queer communities and cis-het culture at large. In addition to the silly (but extremely harmful) myths persistently surrounding bi- and pansexual folks, we are being erased. How can you be visible and erased at the same time, you ask? Often, bi- and pansexual folks aren’t treated/viewed as heterosexual, nor are we treated/viewed as homosexual. We walk a strange high-wire; a wrong step could mean a shove from any angle.
Pan- and bisexual folks, in a starkly confusing contrast, are also treated as either heterosexual or homosexual: if two folks are in a relationship (perceived as) hetero-, they are viewed as straight; and if two folks are in a relationship (perceived as) homosexual, they are viewed as gay. Depending on what (perceived) gender one is partnered with, if pan- or bisexuality even crosses the creepy part of a person’s mind (the socialized part insisting that a person must guess at another’s gender), it is generally as an afterthought.
Due to the hyper-focus on the ‘sexual’ part of the word ‘bisexual,’ this isn’t an abnormal question. And that’s the problem–the words associated with the label itself revolve around sex. Sluts, being greedy, promiscuity, suddenly breaking up with a partner for a partner of another gender (an archetype particularly strange, as there was seemingly no fear about their partner leaving them for another heterosexual relationship), dishonest–the list goes on.
An exorbitant difference exists between the ways bisexual men and other masculine-type folks and the ways bisexual women and other femme-type folks get treated or are viewed by others. Bisexual men face extraordinary difficulties and face enormous amounts of unique erasure. This needs to be noted when talking about this, and similar, topics. Women and other femme-type folks ‘Come Out’ as bi or pan; men and other masculine-type folks ‘Admit’ they are bisexual. That linguistic variance contributes to the all too common, often overlooked, forms of invisibility they face.
To say one is pan-or bisexual, to be pan- or bisexual, to openly be pan- or bisexual is to inadvertently open floodgates far enough for non-bisexual folks to participate in an unwanted entitled onslaught of unsolicited commentary. It is brave.
We do not have to justify our identities to anyone. We are, however, expected to do so in a manner monosexual Gays and Lesbians aren’t required to. (This isn’t to say that Gay and Lesbian folks are widely accepted and not oppressed in anyways, nor is it meant to delegitimize the oppression, stigma, and experiences of Gay and Lesbian folks.) Monosexual privilege is A Thing. Monosexual-identified Queer folks are more often able to speak somewhat openly about identities without necessarily needing to ‘prove it.’
Are you pan or bi? Cool.
Have you had sex with a person of the same gender? Doesn’t matter, you are still bi.
Have you even had sex ever? Doesn’t matter, you are still bi.
Have you only had (perceived) heterosexual sex? Doesn’t matter, you are still bi.
Are you only romantically attracted to one gender and only sexually attracted to another? Doesn’t matter, you are still bi.
Do ever want to have sex with the same gender? Doesn’t matter, you are still bi.
Do you want to have sex at all? Doesn’t matter, you are still bi.
Bi- or pansexuality is not something ‘admitted’ to, not something that has requirements, not something that others have a right to justification or ‘proof.’ The only requirement needed to be pan- or bisexual is identifying as such. If you identify as Bisexual, you are bisexual. If nobody has told you yet: there are no standards you must meet, there is no such thing as ‘not bi enough,’ there is nobody who can take your identity away from you. But there is You, and You are absolutely lovely, my friend.