Bisexuality is the misunderstood goth teenager of the sex world. So many false assumptions and stereotypes are attributed to bisexuality, and it's often dismissed as "indecision," "in denial," or "college." With that in mind, here are 10 fun facts to shed light on the topic, to impress your friends at parties, or to convince that hot on-the-fence person to come home with you.
[A note on sources: Unless otherwise noted/linked, a lot of the information below comes from Marjorie Garber's delightful book on bisexuality, aka my bi-ble, Vice Versa, and an AlterNet article I wrote about stupid bisexual myths.]
10. There are over 1,500 animal species who exhibit bisexual behavior
You probably already know about Roy and Silo, those male penguins from the NY Zoo who raised a baby penguin like it was NO BIG DEAL, flaunting their sexuality and even getting a book deal out of it!
Thankfully, Silo underwent gay conversion therapy at the Church of Latter Day Penguins (not really) and is now mated with a female from California named Scrappy (really). Despite this lurid tale of bisexual treachery, there are many, many, many other species that get it on with both sexes. A short list: Dolphins, dwarf chimpanzees, bonobos, lions, killer whales, crabs, geese, ducks, black-headed gulls, giraffes (nine out of 10 pairings are between males), rams, frogs, and on and on. Peter Boeckman, academic adviser to the Norwegian Natural History Museum's exhibit on animal homosexuality, noted in 2006, "No species has been found in which homosexual behavior has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis."
9. "Bisexual" origins
The word "bisexual" has been around since 1824. It was originally defined as "having both sexes in one being, hermaphroditic." Bisexual didn't come to mean "attraction to both sexes" for another century or so.
8. Bisexuality, according to Greek fable
Ovid's Tiresias is probably the most famous bisexual character in existence. The blind prophet has played a role in works by Dante, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lord Byron, T.S. Eliot, Woody Allen, the film O Brother Where Art Thou? and even songs from the band Styx. His tale goes like this: Greek Gods Hera and Zeus were fighting about who experiences more pleasure during sex (like ya do). In a curious gender reversal, Zeus said women and Hera bet on men. To settle it, they turned Tiresias from a man into a woman for seven years and had him report back. He said women experience more pleasure, specifically: "Of 10 parts, a man enjoys only one; but a woman's sense enjoys all 10 in full." Hera, ever the good sport, blinded Tiresias for making her lose the bet, but then Zeus felt bad and gave homeboy the ability to predict the future, making him a blind seer (see puns below).