Several years ago, an ex invited me to a private party that changed my perception of bisexual wimyn. It also provided me with a fuller understanding of sistahs living double lives, i.e., the 'DL.' Of course the term hadn't been coined back then, but it was the same behavior, married heterosexual wimyn having secret relationships with lesbians.
Connotatively, the term bisexual will cause lesbians to scurry. Unfortunately, too many lesbians have experienced lies, deceit and betrayal from a lover whose bisexuality is revealed. As a result, the mere utterance of the term 'bisexual' ignites anger in the once-scorned partner. The lies, of course, are about sexual intercourse with men. They sleep with men—then, they sleep with wimyn—can anyone say, 'Ick?'
As a result of that party, I learned that not all bisexual wimyn are a menace to my lesbian lifestyle. Three types of bisexual behaviors were revealed that night. Wimyn in the first group all had husbands or boyfriends as primary companions. 'I love my man, but sometimes I crave the softness of a womyn,' said one participant, and many agreed with her. This group of bisexuals isn't really harmful to lesbians because they seem to seek bisexuals similar to themselves. They understand and maintain a code of secrecy to protect their preferred heterosexual lifestyle.
Now the second group presents the problem. Many of these sistahs give all bisexuals a bad rap, because they thirst for men and wimyn equally. It's a personality and/or physical attribute that they seek for sexual gratification or relationships, not a gender. That's fine—we have choice, but here's the problem, once they lock onto a prime candidate, they'll do and say anything to snare her, including deceit and manipulation. I've listened to many arguments, on this topic, from sistahs in support of this lifestyle. One said, 'If I tell the truth, no one will want to date me!'
I suggested that she might seek bisexual wimyn like herself, and leave lesbians alone. Deceiving your lesbian lover about past, and current, sexual activities, especially with men is unethical. Lesbians and men are like oil and water, they don't mix; it's the nature of our lesbian essence. Therefore, bisexual wimyn, in this second group, should respect lesbian culture, and be truthful. There are a few lesbians, however, who will date bisexual wimyn; still it's about being truthful. Additionally, when the lesbian community is free of male sexual influence, we remain at the lowest risk for HIV and other STD's—lesbians embrace these statistics, and will therefore protect and defend them.
The third type of bisexual is the sistah who's testing the waters of lesbianism. Most of her life, she's felt an urge to experience wimyn, but fear always stopped her. Eventually, all closet doors open, and she'll slowly emerge. Initially, she'll be confused over defining herself. She understands the bisexual term as a womyn who sleeps with men and wimyn—and she has—so she embraces it. It also serves as a safety net during her transition through the coming-out process; it's less confusing. Later, when she's certain that this is who she truly is, she'll comfortably redefine herself as a proud lesbian.
Many of you who came from relationships with men went through this phase. Some newcomers learned, early on, that the term bisexual held negative connotations in the community, and used the phrase, 'coming out' instead. It's all the same. Still, using acceptable terminology is important to ones being accepted into the community. I didn't know that my ex was bisexual, but I definitely knew after that party; I was pretty pissed.
Three bisexual groups, three different agendas—one likes an occasional change in scenery, one's deceitful, and one's searching for the door to freedom. We should ignore the first group, use 'Raid' on the second group (only when they try to deceive us), and embrace the third group.
Double standards have always come at the expense of wimyn, so sistahs living on the 'DL' excite me. This 'DL' situation occurs when a womyn from the third group experiences difficulties coming out, i.e. finance, fears, or false perceptions (confusion). The secret lesbian lover involved understands the double life of her married lover, and assists her in hiding the truth from the male. The difference between men and wimyn on the 'DL,' is that men have multiple partners (with unprotected sex), while most wimyn settle into monogamous relationships. Some lesbians are highly attracted to this type of situation. An acquaintance says that she likes the freedom 'DL' relationships provide, as well as the excitement of sneaking around the husband (who is either profoundly religious, controlling, or the primary bread winner).
Some of these 'DL' wimyn manage to come out after their children are grown.
As you can see, many flavors of bisexuality exist. We should acknowledge these flavors, and try not to hate on those who cause us no harm ... they're not all the same.