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The bisexual threat.

"What you don't know about me," purred Tila Tequila in the opening sequence of the wildly popular MTV Series A Shot at Love, "is that I'm bisexual." Playing on the fears of straight boys and lesbians everywhere, MTV pitted the Internet vixen against an assortment of wannabe lovers to ostensibly see which gender (not really which person, after all) this chick would pick. But what about real-life bisexual women who are treading the tricked-out waters of love without 2 million MySpace pals, a reality show and a portfolio of nearly naked photographs to splay out in front of potential soulmates? Maybe life really doesn't imitate art.

"On the one hand, I think something like A Shot at Love is atrocious," says Nicole, a Midwestern bisexual and single mom. "It confirmed every generalization of bisexuals [we've] ever heard. But on the other hand, we as a culture are not calling bisexual a fake sexuality anymore if it's on television."

The media's view of bisexuality has swung back and forth between porn-inspired images of bleachblond stripperellas tongue-wrestling for the camera, and evil ex-girlfriends who dumped their girl for the opposite sex in college. And while lesbians had Ellen to assure America that they could be just as normal as anyone else, bisexuality remained a creepy little secret, a phase to grow out of, or, as Nicole states, "a fake sexuality."

Tannille, a soldier's wife living in the South, regularly endures months of separation from her husband. "He's been gone to Iraq for 15 months. He was in Korea for 12 months, Thailand for six months." When he's away, and sometimes when he isn't, she enjoys "the best of both worlds," maintaining low-key sexual relationships with women. "My first sexual experience was a lesbian experience and my mom freaked out. She took me to church and had people pray for me, but they didn't know why they were praying for me. It was terrifying. I believe in God and I believe he made me who I am. If I dig both genders, then that's supposed to happen. It's not bad. It's not the devil. I am normal. I am me."

Healthy self-esteem is great, but not everyone is so crazy about the new bisexual them. "I find myself hearing someone say they're bi and /'//even question it," Nicole confesses. "Maybe they're afraid to admit they're gay or straight, or I'll think they're promiscuous." This type of internalized biphobia is rooted in the reality that bisexual women often are marginalized by both the gay and the straight communities as "other."

Those lines can be drawn pretty quickly, as Jackie, a massage therapist and outspoken cancer survivor, discovered when she ran into her ex at a local LGBT function. After Jackie acknowledged that she was engaged to a man, the woman made it obvious that she was no longer interested in the friendship. "She didn't even want to talk to me because I was with a guy. It was a big turnoff for her, even though she had been with guys, too."

The concern, among some lesbians, is that guys have some serious cooties that we just don't want. "I would never date someone who is bisexual. I don't really like guys. I don't find them appealing," says Vanessa, a dancer who dates women exclusively. "The idea of kissing one or being intimate with one grosses me out. I don't want to be with someone who was with a guy before they started dating me."

What also seems to be at play for lesbians is the fear that someday our bisexual girlfriend could leave us for a penis. And of course, it's valid. It could happen, right?

Erin, a young "straight-curious" lesbian, asserts that if a woman is afraid that she's "going to go out and get a man," then she wouldn't waste her time. "I don't think any of the lesbians I know would refer to themselves as a Kinsey six. Even the gayest girls." She references the famous scale of sexual orientation proposed by Alfred Kinsey, on which a six is absolutely as gay as you can get. No heterosexual inclination at all. Ever. But what if the greatest of lesbian fears came true?

"If I really believed she was bisexual I would have to assume that she found someone better than me," says Erin, pragmatically. "I wouldn't put it on her sexuality as the reason we broke up. I would trust that [our] relationship wasn't working."

Most bi-friendly lesbians agree. Want their dating advice? The next time some hottie buys you a drink and mentions her occasional penchant for penis, don't run away screaming. Hers is a beating heart with the same desire for companionship as any other human being. So whether she's yours forever or just for the evening, belly up to the bar, pour her a little something and take your own shot at love.
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Title Annotation:bi.liciousI
Author:Walters-Beck, Melany
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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