Will he be more promiscuous?
Will he be more promiscuous?
by Whiskey Blue
Dear Concerned Mom,
It's wonderful that your son felt comfortable enough to come out and tell you and your husband that he identifies as bisexual. The fact that your son feels accepted and supported will do wonders for his sexual health and safety, not to mention his self-esteem. I want you to know how invaluable and significant this is. Well done, parents.
Getting to your question, my answer comes in a few parts. We need to look at your worry that, by virtue of being bisexual, your son will be "much more sexually active." We also need to address your question about whether or not it's true that the gay community is "much more sexually active." And we need to talk about how to make sure your son stays safe.
Let's start with staying safe.
I'm not sure how old your son is, but it sounds like he might be in his teens or early twenties. I suggest you talk to him about protection and perhaps look into LGBT or sexual health organizations in your community. Perhaps his high school or university has some resources. You can also always listen to Dan Savage's sex advice podcast, which provides some of the most accessible, sex-positive information out there. (And it's funny.) Other than that, treat your son the way you would treat a sexually active heterosexual, homosexual, or queer son: with respect, dignity, honesty, and trust. If he has questions and feels comfortable coming to you, great. He knows what he needs, so it’s better to communicate with him than worry about how much sex the entire gay community is having. The details of your son's sexual life aren't really any of your business anyway, which likely comes as a relief to you, because what parent really wants to know the graphic details of their child's sexual activity?
Now onto the gay community, how much sex the gay community is having, and where bisexuality figures in all of this. If we want to come to any clarity, we need to start by unpacking the following statement: “both my husband and I are worried that this [your son being bisexual] means he is going to be much more sexually active. Is this true of the gay community?"
“The gay community”: this is a very general term we can use to refer to a history and a social justice context, and also to refer to communities in different cities, or online, or in academia, but it's important to know that it doesn't refer to any exact, specific demographic. What's more, younger people are more inclined to refer to it as the queer community, which refers to a broader spectrum of identities including trans, intersex, two-spirited, and otherwise queer individuals. No matter what you call it, though, the community is an ever-expanding group of humans and it's impossible to assess in any way how much sex it is having as a whole. It's like trying to get statistics on how much sex heterosexuals all over the world, in every social and economic class, are having. The queer community is an umbrella term for social and cultural reference, mostly. It does not prescribe any singular or concrete reality, and that's the magic of it.
“Much more sexually active”: the only way we can determine how much more sexually active your son will be as a result of being bisexual would be to come up with some absolute statistic on how much sex he would be having if he were straight, and how much sex he would be having if he were gay. Luckily, we don't have to accumulate this data, because there's no way to do this math: it's impossible to accurately determine the sexual activity of an entire group of people. An individual's sexual activity can change in a day as well as from week to week, month to month, and year to year. Plus, there's as much difference between the sexual practices of queers and heterosexuals as there are differences of sexual practices between individual heterosexuals. Everyone likes things differently, at different frequencies. The labels we give ourselves in order to move through the world--gay, straight, bisexual, or queer, for example--do not refer to how often we engage in sexual activity.
Plus, for obvious reasons, there's no way to go about assessing how much sex your son is going to have in the future. I hope you take comfort in not having to do this; if your son were straight-identified, I doubt anyone would be trying to do the math. It's okay to feel confused or concerned about your son's wellbeing, but there's no use trying to act on this feeling by policing or speculating about your son's sexual life. He doesn't know how much sex he is going to have in the future, and his parents are just about the last people on earth who need to be keeping count.
“Bisexual”: you're concerned about the frequency and safeness of your son's sexual health because of a stereotype about the gay community, and because he is bisexual. "The gay community" is a vague way to assess what your son's personal experience of intimacy and sex will be, as is "bisexuality." There still seems to be a common misconception that homosexuals are attracted to everyone who is of the same sex as they are. We never say, if we are a heterosexual man meeting a heterosexual woman, that we are fine befriending her but if she hits on us, we will be uncomfortable. But we sometimes encounter this perspective when a person is gay, bisexual, or queer. If we proceed according to this assumption, then, in the case of bisexuals, the numbers double and we might presume that a bisexual person will be attracted to... every single person on earth?! And then, from this fear-driven fantasy, we might go on to worry that the bisexual person will... have sex with every person on earth?!
The thing is, a person is a person. Their sexual life is, on most accounts, none of our business. And just because someone identifies as gay or bisexual or queer does not in any way change their right to dignity, privacy, and being treated like a human being instead of a demographic. I could be gay and have sex once a year and the person next to me could be straight and having sex every day. And all of this could be none of anyone's business. I think that, when faced with the unknown, it's natural to feel fear, and it's not unusual to react to this fear by trying to exert control over the circumstances that are evoking this fear. But your son is your son, and he will always be. His sexuality will come to feel as natural and meaningful a part of him as everything else that makes up who he is. It's okay to be uncomfortable at first, and the way you are reaching out is a beautiful thing. Now just feel this way until you feel comfortable. It won't take long; before you know it, you will.
As for your son, he will have sex with the handful (or two handfuls, who knows!) of people on this earth whom he is lucky enough to meet and share a sexual connection with. And with parents supporting him, and not shaming him, his odds of being safe and having positive experiences are high, just like those of a straight son raised with love and respect.
As for sex, well--at its best, sex is about connection. It's about intimacy, trust, pleasure, and exploration. If we're lucky, it's even about love. It's not about statistics. It's about joy. If we want to think about bisexual or gay people having terrifying amounts of sex, then let's at least recognize that terrifying amounts of sex would equal terrifying amounts of joy, even love. So buy your son a box of condoms and tell him you love him. Then leave him alone to listen to the Savage Lovecast at savagelovecast.com. He will be just fine, and you'll be a big part of the reason he is.
Whiskey Blue is the author of Brooklyn Love, a collection of literary erotica available everywhere ebooks are sold. In her other life, she is a contributor to Psychology Today. She has also written for The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, AfterEllen, Curve Magazine, Bitch, and more. Whiskey holds erotica in the highest regard. Follow her @topshelferotica.