Is Bisexuality a Phase?

Eighty percent of gay and straight women who changed sexual orientation report being attracted to both sexes.
  • Transcript


Question: Is bisexuality a phase?

Lisa Diamond: Well, it's interesting, because the vast majority of the identity transitions that I observed in my study were transitions to bisexual and unlabeled identities rather than toward lesbian identities. In other words, if there was one big trend, it was toward labels that permitted attractions to both sexes. And the longer a woman had been out and living her life, the more likely she was to acknowledge attractions to both sexes. So that directly contradicts the notion that bisexuality is a phase, because if it was a phase you would find women gradually moving either into a lesbian identity or to a heterosexual identity. And in fact we find the opposite. Eighty percent of the identity transitions that I've observed in the 13 years of the study have been transitions to either bisexual or unlabeled identities, from lesbian or heterosexual identities.

So clearly there's more of a sense of movement toward non-exclusivity than away from it. And again, it also fits the cross-cultural data that we've collected. In every large-scale representative study that's been done, the single largest group of non-heterosexual individuals are individuals who describe themselves as mainly heterosexual, but not completely. So that bisexual range of the scale is in fact the most heavily populated sort of section of the Kinsey scale. For years we assumed that the vast majority of non-heterosexual individuals were exclusively gay and lesbian individuals, and those other categories were really, really small. We had it as wrong as you could have it. The exclusive categories are actually the smallest categories, and those bisexual ranges are actually the largest ranges.

Recorded on November 4, 2009