Bisexuality is a taboo topic to discuss in Filipino culture. Albert Prias takes a step and trawls the web for answers.
The modern world has given us a lot of different terms to describe people’s sexuality but the truth is, it is hard for people to stand up as bisexual because society does not approve of this sexual behaviour, which, in turn, often makes people scared to show their real sexuality.
According to Wikipedia, people (both men and women) usually describe themselves as bisexual when they find that they are physically, emotionally, sexually attracted and engages in sensual or sexual relationships with people of either sex.
It stated that a bisexual person may not be equally attracted to both sexes, and the degree of attraction may vary over time.
Although these sexual or social behaviour dates back into the times of Caligula, Alexander the Great and King Edward II, being bisexual often causes feelings of isolation for some young men and women because they feel a lot of pressure to be heterosexual, or to be homosexual as many people find hard to understand. Famous people that many idolise, such as James Dean, Marlon Brando, Lady Gaga, Cynthia Nixon, Virginia Wolf are bisexuals.
Nobody can explain why some people are bisexual and some research done suggests that everybody is born with a sexual orientation. Some people believe that a person become bisexual because of some of his childhood experiences.
You cannot place the value of one's sexual identity because of its origin. “Some people assume that bisexuality is just a phase people go through. In fact, any sexual orientation can be described as a phase. Humans are diverse. Individual sexual feelings and behaviour change over time. The creation and consolidation of a sexual identity is an ongoing process. Since we are generally socialised as heterosexuals, bisexuality is a stage that many people experience as part of the process of acknowledging their sexual preference. Many others come to identify as bisexuals after a considerable period of identification as gay men or lesbians”.
Little research has been done so far on this subject, which is why it is not easy to find how common bisexuality is. However, a recent study by Ron Fox of more than 900 bisexual individuals found that one out of every three had previously identified themselves as lesbian or gay. Bisexuality, like homosexuality and heterosexuality, may be either a transitional step in the process of sexual discovery or a stable, long-term identity.
Bisexuals are in many ways a hidden population. In our culture, it is generally assumed that a person is either heterosexual (the default assumption) or homosexual (based on appearance or behavioural clues). Because bisexuality does not fit into these standard categories, it is often denied or ignored. When it is recognised, bisexuality is often viewed as being part heterosexual and part homosexual, rather than being a unique and complete identity within itself.
As Romanceopedia highlights, “The media has a tendency to trivialise bisexuality, presenting it like the cheap pornographic fantasy of a man involved in a sexual threesome. This is related to the myth that bisexuals are fiendishly focused on sex and must have lovers of both sexes to feel completely fulfilled. However, many bisexuals remain celibate. Other bisexuals are very capable of maintaining monogamous relationships”.
Most Filipino bisexuals prefer to hide in the closet as the culture does not permit or recognise such social and sexual behaviour. The biggest factor, perhaps, is the religious orientation of the Filipinos. Philippines being the only Christian country in Asia has a big responsibility in preserving the acceptable norm of the society. Many families have been destroyed, marriages broken, relationships soured and reputations tarnished because of revelations of being bisexual. Homosexuality is more acceptable in the Filipino Culture as gays and lesbians have proven their worth and made big contributions in the development of the country especially in the field of Arts and Entertainment. As for bisexuality, it remains a taboo and carries a stigma. In a supposedly ‘modern’ culture, it remains an unacceptable behaviour in the Filipino society.
But again like the majority of the population, bisexuals have a wide variety of relationship styles. And a bisexual does not need to be sexually involved with both a man and a woman simultaneously. In fact, some people who identify as bisexual never engage in sexual activity with one or the other (or either) gender. As is the case for heterosexuals, gay men, and lesbians, attraction does not involve acting on every desire. Like heterosexuals and gay people, many bisexuals choose to be sexually active with an exclusive partner for the purpose of enjoying a long-term monogamous relationship. Other bisexuals may be involved in open marriages that allow for relationships with same-sex partners, three-way relationships, or a number of partners of the same or opposite gender (singly or simultaneously)”.
To sum it up, www.reachout.com, describes bisexuality as more to do with how people feel and not necessarily how they act:
- A person can feel attractions to both men and women, decide to remain celibate, and still be considered a bisexual by themselves and others.
- A bisexual might make a conscious decision to confine their sexual activity to person(s) of one gender and still be considered a bisexual by themselves and others”.
If you want more information (Help Line), call the Australian Bisexual Network on (07) 3857 2500 or toll free on 1800 653 223 (outside Brisbane).
Disclosure: The above article was researched by Albert Prias for the Filipino Lesbian and Gay Community (FLAGCOM). Credit goes to information sourced through Reachout.com, Wikipedia and Romanceopedia.com.
Albert Prias is the managing director and media coordinator for FLAGCom + Friends. He is also an interior designer and TAFE Lecturer by trade and a singer, host and event planner for premier Filipino events.