Jennifer Wilber is a writer, teacher, and bisexual rights activist from Ohio.
What Is Bi Culture?
Bisexuals have long been ignored and erased by the LGBT+ community as a whole, and as a result, many bi people feel like they are unwelcome or out of place within the general LGBT+ culture. In addition, popular culture has long reinforced harmful negative stereotypes about bisexual individuals.
To combat this erasure and these negative stereotypes, many people in the bisexual community have started to vocally claim a variety of seemingly random things as belonging to “bi culture” as a means of building solidarity and visibility within the community. Here is a list of some of the things that bi people have claimed as being part of bisexual culture, though this list is by no means exhaustive.
1. An Inability to Sit in Chairs Properly
The trope that bisexual people can’t sit in chairs properly gained traction on Twitter in late 2018 when bi people across the internet began enthusiastically agreeing with (and perhaps mocking) a tweet that stated that bis can’t sit in chairs properly. Though there doesn’t seem to be much connection between the way someone sits on furniture and sexual orientation, many bi people on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit responded to this assessment, making statements to the effect that they don’t know if it has become a stereotype, but they fit it 100%.
Heck, even as I write this, I am sitting on an office chair with both legs completely folded onto the chair, with my keyboard supported on my lap. Though bis may be invisible to the larger LGBT+ and straight communities, and many people assume that bi people in straight-presenting relationships are actually straight, this new stereotype seems to prove that we are so queer, we can’t even sit straight!
2. Making Puns
Many bi people would agree that they love puns, particularly puns involving bisexuality. In a 2011 article on Alternet called “9 Stupid Myths About Bisexuals That Will Make You Laugh,” writer Anna Pulley said that “bisexuals love puns” is the only silly myth about bisexuals that is actually true.
According to Pulley, “[m]any bisexuals love to pun because they operate on the assumption that nothing has a fixed meaning, much like sexual identity.” She goes on to state that “Another reason bisexuals like puns is because the word bi is infinitely pun-able.” The article then goes on to list a number of bisexual organizations and bi publications that make clever use of bi-themed puns in their names, including: North Bi Northwest, the Seattle Women’s Bisexual Network newsletter; BiAngles, a bisexual zine; BiCEP, the Bisexual Committee Engaging in Politics; and UBIQUITOUS (which stands for “uppity bi queers united in their overtly unconventional sexuality”), the Queer Nation Bi Caucus.
Wherever you find bi people gathering online, you are sure to find puns, especially puns referencing the dual nature of bisexuality.
3. Cuffed Jeans
Another common thing that bi people often claim as "bi culture” in online communities is the propensity to cuff one’s jeans, especially when paired with short socks during weather where exposed ankles don't make a whole lot of sense. Some bis claim that this cuffed jeans look must be paired with a tucked-in t-shirt, as tweeted by Twitter user remvslupin in a 2017 tweet that declared, “cuffing your jeans and tucking in baggy shirts is bisexual culture.”
This is one “bi culture” stereotype that I definitely do not fit. I’m more of a dresses-with-Converse kind of bi. Despite being considered a staple of “dressing for comfort,” I find jeans to be scratchy and uncomfortable.
4. The “Bisexual Bob” Haircut
The “Bisexual Bob” trope was first noticed by a tumblr user named Leah, who posted a picture of three characters who are all canonically (or assumed by fans to be) bisexual, each sporting a similar bobbed hairstyle. These three characters included Marceline from Adventure Time, Korra from Avatar: The Legend of Korra, and Max Caulfield from Life Is Strange. In response to the original post, other users posted more pictures of other bisexual characters with the same type of haircut. Many bi users also chimed in to say that they had the same haircut and, in some cases, even had that hairstyle long before they came out to anyone.
Sine then, this hairstyle has come to be known as the “bisexual bob” or “bi haircut” in online LGBT+ communities. And if you’re wondering, this is another common “bi culture” thing that doesn’t apply to me. I prefer to keep my hair long.
5. Converse Sneakers
Converse are the quintessential bisexual shoe (though some bis do prefer Vans). Converse’s “Pride” collection shows that the company cares about its LGBT+ customer base. These sneakers are comfortable and versatile and can be worn with just about anything from jeans and t-shirts to sundresses. Whether you prefer to dress feminine, masculine, or somewhere in between, Converse will probably look perfectly fine with your outfit. The wide variety of looks you can pull off with Converse make them the perfect shoes for the bisexual who can’t make up their mind about anything.
I usually go for black or pink low-tops. Most bis will probably want own several pairs in different colors or designs, since they won’t be able to pick just one!
6. Plaid Shirts
Plaid shirts are considered the outerwear of choice for many bi people. While plaid flannel shirts have long been associated with lesbians, bi people in online bi communities have recently claimed plaid button-up shirts as bi culture. Bi plaid isn’t limited to just flannel material, either. Both female and male bis can be found wearing plaid shirts and other types of clothing with plaid patterns.
Me? I’m more of a zip-up-hoodie type of bi.
There are a couple of reasons why unicorns are so popular with bi people. First of all, bisexuality is often treated as something that doesn’t exist by both gay and straight people. As a result of being treated like some kind of myth, bi people tend to identify with mythical creatures (like unicorns) in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way.
Second, the term “unicorn” has, in certain circles, come to be a degrading term for a bisexual woman who is willing to sleep with a straight couple, no strings attached. (The straight couple seeking a third person is referred to as “unicorn hunters.”) In this context, the bi woman is seen as nothing more than a novelty for a straight couple’s entertainment. By using unicorns in a more lighthearted way, as a sort of bisexual cultural symbol, bi people can “take back” the symbol from straight people who only view bi people in a gross and demeaning way.
Also, unicorns are just majestic AF!
8. Covering Anything and Everything in the Bi Pride Flag Colors
Bi people also love covering everything in the colors of the bi pride flag—pink, purple, and blue. This stems from a desire to become more visible in a culture where the very existence of bisexuality is often erased. It’s not uncommon for bi people to have clothing, accessories, or hair in these three colors, especially during pride events in June. Many bi people like to incorporate these colors, the bi pride flag, or other bi symbols into their everyday look as well to gain greater visibility.
9. Having an Anxiety Disorder
Not everything that has been declared as part of bi culture is lighthearted, however. Studies show that bi people are much more likely than lesbians or gay men to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and mood disorders. This is likely due to bi erasure and biphobia that still exists, even within the LGBT+ community. Because anxiety disorders and depression are so common amongst bi people, is isn't uncommon for members of the bisexual community to make jokes about their mental health problems in bi online communities and on social media as a way of coping. Though mental health is a serious problem within the community, it is still an important part of bi culture.
10. Claiming That Random Things are “Bi Culture”
Claiming that random things are “bi culture” is the most bi-culture thing of all on this list. Since bi identities are often erased, many bi people don’t feel like they are really part of the LGBT+ community, and that the LGBT+ culture doesn’t really have a place for them. Because of this, many bi people want a bi culture of their own so much that they have started claiming seemingly random things in the name of “bi culture.” Whenever you come across a post on social media referencing bi culture, you are sure to see replies mentioning just about everything.
In truth, bi people come from all walks of life and may have any number of intersecting identities. Because bi people are so diverse, just about anything can be bi culture. The phenomenon of claiming things as “bi culture” helps bi people feel a connection to other people like themselves. This sense of community is powerful in helping people, especially vulnerable younger people, feel a sense of belonging. It may come across as annoying or frivolous to some, but it is harmless fun and helps to build a sense of community and belonging for bi people who need it.
The Definitive List of Things We Are Claiming as Bisexual (WeAreYourVoiceMag)
10 Things That Are Definitely, 100% Bisexual Culture (NewNowNext)
The Bisexual Bob: A Bold Haircut for a Beautiful Future (Autostraddle)
Bisexual Health Awareness Month: Mental Health in the Bisexual Community (Human Rights Campaign)
© 2019 Jennifer Wilber
gedd on August 26, 2020:
i always do peace signs in my pics and i have fake vans and i like girls and boys
Jasmine on August 12, 2020:
I was reading these then after i finished i was like how bi am i?
Sherb on July 12, 2020:
Saying bye Felicia and then realizing the bi is a homophone to bye so now all you say is bi Felicia when you leave work or school to your gay friends who say YASSS QUEEN to that.
I am the stereotype on July 06, 2020:
Finger guns. Those are important.
Anonymous on July 05, 2020:
You mean... Bicorn
BIgot on June 19, 2020:
Dissapointed you didn't add sweater weather by the neighborhood
harmony on June 15, 2020:
me: im not that into puns...
also me: comes out with a pun
A'nari on June 02, 2020:
i did this before i knew i was bi-
hannah on May 12, 2020:
Is it bad that i haven't come out to my grandma
Fardeen on May 12, 2020:
You forgot Iced-Coffee
Sunny on May 06, 2020:
Aye c'mon now you've exposed our bi culture-
maddie on April 26, 2020:
lmao i’m pan and ace and do almost all of these
Megan on April 26, 2020:
I did all these things before I knew I was bi.
Stu on April 09, 2020:
Or sometimes "Chois". I'm a lesbian but I'm a male. Well born male. I'm so bisexual its unreale cuffed jeans, birkenstocks or converse, plaid everything, and the bi flag colors happen to be my favorite colors. I guess it was my destiny haha
Rahul Sharma from Manchester, UK on April 07, 2020:
I love the natural world - it comes from my culture, which grew out of a people enslaved.
Burry on April 01, 2020:
I’m all OF these!
Rain21 on March 29, 2020:
Wow, I’m more of a zip up hoodie kind of bi.
thatoneguy on March 14, 2020:
ayo stop callin me out
biaf on March 14, 2020:
i do relate lmao
Kaylee on March 04, 2020:
this is scarily true
Empress Thanatas from Lake Stevens on October 28, 2019:
Thanks for this interesting article, lol
Tess from Hawaii on June 10, 2019:
This is hilarious. I'd say some of these are true for me. Nice article =D
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 10, 2019:
Hello, Jennifer, the "Bi" culture is almost strange to me. But I take delight in reading your story. Thanks for sharing.