The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe

guideWhenever I visit my local book store (which is often), I always peruse the gay and lesbian section. While there, I am looking for one thing — books on bisexuality. I am nearly always disappointed. Leaving aside the fact that I am rarely able to find anything other than gay or lesbian erotica; the books that are available fall into one of three basic categories (not counting the aforementioned erotica):

1. Tragedy (see Prayers for Bobby by Leroy Aarons)
2. Gay (see The Greeks and Greek Love by James Davidson)
3. Lesbian (see Lesbian Couples: A Guide to Creating Healthy Relationships by D. Merilee Clunis)

There are a great number of titles available, but it seems that they all can be categorized into these areas. It is rare to find a book that deals exclusively in bisexuality; which leaves bisexual men reading books about being gay and bisexual women reading books about being a lesbian, almost exclusively; contributing to the confusion of bisexuality as a valid orientation. On my most recent trip to the bookstore, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe, by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski is a poignant, researched and fun look at the “invisible orientation” of bisexuality. The book offers the reader (who should be bisexual) a journey on the path of bisexuality, breaking it into three parts. Part One: Beginner, seems to be all about coming to terms with being bisexual. Chapter One: The B-Word – starts the journey by referencing the “flip-flop” that we all know so well. That period of time in our lives when our families believe that we’re straight and our friends have seen us flirting and have labeled us as gay. It goes on to define bisexuality, both by its dictionary definition (pointing out the absurdity of the hermaphroditic and botanist connotations) and the etymology of the word. It turns out that bisexual was added to the dictionary in 1892, while the abbreviation “bi” was coined in 1956. Chapter 2: Measuring Sex continues on the beginner’s journey to discover who they are – bi, gay or straight. The Kinsey Scale and research of the Kinsey Institute reveals that 13% of women and 37% of men achieve orgasm with a partner of the same sex. The Klein Grid (expanding on Kinsey’s research) makes things more detailed by breaking things down to seven elements of sexuality. Antonio Galarza has developed the “Three Circle Graph” which shows 70-80% of men to be bisexual.

Part Two: Intermediate, recounts what it’s like to be bisexual. Chapter Four: Two Closets opens with a step by step “how to” for coming out. “Coming Out Without Coming Out”; this guide shows the method of creating an air of mystery around your sexuality. Never fully explaining who you’re interested in, feeling that your sexual orientation isn’t really anyone’s business; refusing to label it for even those that ask point blankly. “Coming Out to Your Conservative Mom” suggests using television to your advantage, appealing to things your mother already knows and likes and then pointing out that they’re gay. “Coming Out to Your Hippie Mom” offers a humorous how to, suggesting any time any place and cautions the reader of learning too much about their mother’s past. “Coming Out to Your Radical-Right Dad” this how to is extreme in its recommendations of caution; saying “Do stand a safe distance when you utter any word or phrase containing sexual.” The guide does not limit the situation to parents, however. Providing additional advice and how-to’s for “Coming Out to Your Straight But Not Narrow Siblings” and “Coming Out to Your Curious Co-Workers.” Chapter Six: Doubling Your Chances opens with a quote from Woody Allen “Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday Night.” This chapter tends to focus more on how to attract members of the same sex. Providing tips for both the guys and the gals; while also providing the transition into Part Three: Advanced.

The four chapters of part three cover sex and love for the bisexual person. Everything from getting laid to playing “bi” heart. When I closed the book, I fervently wished for two things. 1. That it wasn’t over. 2. That there were more books like it. To my utter delight, I was able to find more information from these wonderful authors as there is a companion website to the book, linking the blogs of the authors. As I said before, it is poignant, researched and humorous. It was a joy to read and it had the calming effect of letting me know that things really aren’t that bad if you’re bi. Something we may need reminded of occasionally.