Interdisciplinary Seminar Q &
The question below is based on a seminar presented October 10 by Professor
Martin S. Weinberg as part of The Kinsey Institute's Interdisciplinary
Seminar Series. Weinberg is a professor of sociology at Indiana University
The foundation for this talk is research presented in the book Dual
Attraction: Understanding Bisexuality, by Martin Weinberg, Colin
Williams, and Douglas Pryor (Oxford University Press, 1994), and a continuation
of that research.
How do you determine whether a person is bisexual?
Sexual preference or orientation is a complex phenomenon. Often
individuals are at different places in terms of their sexual activites,
sexual feelings, and romantic feelings. Some people, for example, engage
in sex with people of both genders, but have romantic feelings only for
We also find that many people change their sexual focus over time. Does
a person have to be attracted to, or having sex with, both sexes at the
same point in his or her life to qualify as bisexual? What if the individual
fluctuates in an exclusive orientation toward men and women in different
years? Should that person be labeled according to an exclusive orientation
at a particular point in time (gay, lesbian, or straight) or should the
person be considered bisexual (or sequentially bisexual)?
People who are experimental by nature tend to experience more changes
in their sexuality. Since 1983, we have studied one group of women and
men who identify themselves as bisexual. From this group, we see that
people can be very flexible in their sexuality over time, depending on
changing circumstances, availability of sex partners, and other factors.
In many ways, these people have rejected the traditional gender schema
in sexuality. It is difficult ot draw boundaries and say that people are
heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. People -- and their sexuality --
are much more complex than that.
[Newsletter Table of Contents]