Dear Alice,

Friends have approached me with questions about bisexuality. I never considered myself to be bisexual, but I have always been interested in (X-rated movies) women having sex. I admit that I have fantasized about it, but I am not sure if it means that I am bisexual. I am in a heterosexual relationship and enjoy intimacy with my partner. Is it possible that I may be bisexual????


Dear ?Bisexual?,

You have raised two important issues in your question: one is the role of fantasy in people's lives; the other issue asks about bisexuality. Fantasy allows people to explore elements of their sexuality that they may not be comfortable with in real life. They can enjoy these fantasies, and may or may not choose to do them at some point in their lives. The fantasies can be a pleasurable escape and they can also allow people to learn about themselves. Many things factor into people's definition of sexual orientation, including physical, emotional, and erotic attraction towards others, whether or not it's overtly expressed. Fantasies play a role in sexuality and can be an important aspect of sexual orientation, as well.

Previous research on sexual orientation has covered many different issues. A recent study on bisexuality focused solely on sexual arousal. Its authors found that men who identified as bisexual had arousal patterns that were similar to homosexual males when watching erotic videos that featured either men or women. This study, while interesting, was criticized because it only examined one aspect of sexual orientation. Other researchers propose that sexual orientation is based on many components, including, but not limited to, arousal. If someone becomes aroused while fantasizing about a person of the same sex, but does not become aroused when shown erotic videos of members of the same sex, what does that say about his or her sexual orientation? More research and understanding are needed in the field of sexual orientation and human sexuality, since we seem to have so many more questions than answers.

Questioning your attitudes and knowledge of sexual orientation is an important step toward having a more complete understanding of your own sexuality. You have control of your fantasies and your behavior. At some point you may want to make your fantasies a reality. Educating yourself is a great first step. Check out some work by Fritz Klein, who has written extensively on bisexuality. You may find some additional insight by reading some of his writings. You can also read the Related Q&As below to see what questions others have asked regarding sexual orientation and fantasy. If you feel the need to talk with someone and you are at Columbia, the Columbia Queer Alliance has a website that offers information, links, and contact information for other resources on campus. In New York, Identity House offers private counseling and support regarding issues of sexual orientation at 212.243.8181. Also, the Gay and Lesbian National Hotline offers a nationwide toll-free peer counseling, information, and referral line at 1.888.THE.GLNH (843.4564) [4:00 PM - 12:00 midnight EST (M - F); 12 noon - 5:00 PM EST (Sa)].


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