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Are you in need of advice on a matter that only a bisexual could understand?
Tiggy Upland, the Wild Deuce, is at your service. Write to!

This advice column is for entertainment purposes only. The columnist reserves the right to edit the letters for any reason.

Ask Tiggy
Ask Tiggy

December 27th, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I saw your advice column for bisexuals and was wondering if you could help me. I always knew that I was bisexual even before I fully understood it. Now I'm about to turn 23 and still haven't quite figured out how to deal with it. I'm somewhat open about it…some of my friends and family know.

I have been with my wonderful boyfriend for a little over a year and I'm seven months pregnant. Lately, I haven't been able to enjoy sex with my partner nearly as much as I used to (in fact, almost not at all) and I haven't had the heart to tell him. At the same time, I find myself wanting female attention and affection. It’s driving me nuts.

I'm still pushing myself to be more open and communicative about what I want sexually. He knew before we started seeing each other that I was bi. Things have been complicated for us and not too long ago, we were both having trouble sexually. I admitted to not being able to orgasm and we just ended up being frustrated with each other and ourselves, even arguing a bit about it. Now I'm unsure how to talk to him about this, so I continue to be sexually frustrated.

I can't see sleeping with anyone but him, yet the desire for a woman is driving me up a wall. It’s adding to my frustration and making it impossible to enjoy my partner. I have a few bi friends but none I feel close enough to talk to, so I always feel alone. Can you help?

—Wild Spirit

I suspect that a surge of pregnancy hormones is playing a starring role in your production of horniness…on Broadway (sorry, I had to). They say that you get some fierce cravings during pregnancy and they’re not just talking about food. On top of that raging storm south of the border, you’re at a watershed moment. In two months, your life will be full, fast, and completely different than before. And you can count on parenthood affecting your relationship with your partner in countless (and probably unforeseeable) ways.

So while I’m typically in favor of charging in all gung-ho and fixing a problem like some sort of sexual firefighter, in this case, I think you need to wait until everything settles. Wait until your body settles, wait until your new relationship with your partner as co-parents settles, wait until your daily routine settles. In other words, wait at least a few months after the baby is born before you do anything to address this problem. Honestly, it might just solve itself. But you don’t want to do anything rash – like, try to find a woman to scratch your sexual itch – while everything is up in the air. It would be awful to make such a mistake just to satisfy a fleeting urge when it sounds like you have something very special with your boyfriend.

Try to reach orgasm through masturbation, porn, and sex toys, and let your partner know that because of the pregnancy, you probably won’t be in the mood for sex until after the birth. He’ll live. You will, too. If you’re having the same problem in, say, five months, write to me again.

November 15th, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I have just recently come out as bi to a few close friends. Now, a year into my marriage, I am feeling less and less attraction to men and more and more of an attraction to women. It's actually become somewhat uncontrollable. I have become involved with a female friend of mine, mainly on an emotional (and, at times, physical) level. She is so wonderful and when I am with her, I feel so relaxed and I feel like myself. This is not the first time in my relationship with my husband that this has happened. Any advice?

—Bi Wife

Wild Deuces, I have to admit that my first impulse was to be a bit tough on this questioner, as I felt she was being selfish and dishonest with her husband. But I knew that that wasn't fair to her. I needed to try harder to be sympathetic and see where she was coming from. I thought that perhaps a bit more information might allow me to be less judgmental, so I wrote back to Bi Wife and asked, "Why did you get married?" She replied:

Dear Tiggy,

I got married because I loved my partner. I thought he was the one. I thought I loved him enough that I could suppress or ignore these other feelings I was having. He seemed OK with the fact that I was attracted to women. I've had "feelings" for a very long time; I can even remember having them in high school over 10 years ago. I grew up in North Carolina and didn't really even know what it meant to be LGBT until I moved to Boston four years ago. I thought that all girls felt the way I feel and that it was just a phase. I wish I had known then what I know now.

—Bi Wife

And that's all it took for me to get over my judgment and see the perspective of this particular Deuce. Actually, I was surprised that she didn't seem offended by my question. I think if someone asked me why I got married, even if I had revealed that the marriage was not in a solid place, I'd say, "Because I loved zir,* duh." But in just a few earnest words, she conveyed to me exactly how easy it would be to wind up in her shoes. Thanks for that, Bi Wife. Now that I've gotten over my knee-jerk snippiness, I can honestly say that my heart goes out to you.

I think the universe really threw you off when it gave you the opportunity to better understand your sexuality well after it gave you a great guy. It really should have done it in the opposite order, and now your life schedule is all out of whack. The universe is an idiot and kind of a jerkface. I think this is what scientists mean when they say the universe is dense.

Because of this, you've been trying to find your way through this process of self-discovery while staying married. It sounds like this process has gotten messy, and you need to admit the hard truth to yourself that you've cheated on your spouse with at least two people. Maybe you're even ready to admit to yourself that exploration of your queer sexuality while being monogamously married to a man isn't exactly working. However, I wouldn't suggest that you make any immediate decisions about your whole arrangement; figuring this all out will be a process, so take your time.

Since you're in Boston, I highly recommend that you attend the peer-led group, "Straight Marriage, Still Questioning" on the second Monday of each month. For more information, contact kate.e.flynn [at] gmail [dot] com. Unlike with your sometimes-slow pal Tiggy, you won't have to wait a single second for these folks to "get" you. They're in the same position you are and will welcome you into their mutually-supportive space with open arms.

I wish you much faith and courage on this difficult figuring-out period in your life, Bi Wife. I can only suggest that you try as hard as you can to be honest with yourself as you go along. And one more thing: I'd hold off on having children with your husband until you get this all sorted, if I were you.

(*gender neutral pronoun)

November 1st, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

After a ten-year hiatus, I (a woman) have started dating a woman. This is not the problem; in fact, this is wonderful. The issue is that when I was a teenager, I never felt the need to come out to my family, and now that I am older, I think that it's high time, uncomfortable though it may be.

Now, this woman is wonderful, but my decision to come out at this time is one that I'm making because it's time. How do I manage this in such a way that it doesn't put an undue pressure on this very new relationship? I don't want her to feel the responsibility for what I'm dealing with family-wise, as it doesn't really have anything to do with her.

—Late Bloomer

Well...doesn't it? I mean, it's a pretty big coincidence that you feel it's time to come out at the very moment you start dating a most fabulous woman (congrats, by the way!).

She's dating you, and that means all of you — your whole, wonderfully complicated package. She's dating a woman who has been comfortably out to herself, and possibly her friends as well, for years and years, but not out to her family. Your new belle is probably having a great time getting to know your interesting self, and this is part of that. Not only can she handle it, I'll bet she's enjoying the ride. Creating bonds with someone is as messy as a Gallagher show, but if she couldn't take getting splashed with watermelon juice, she wouldn't have bought a ticket.

Aside from the above acceptance and lezzie-faire attitude, you can feel free to put off introducing her to your family for a bit. Your relationship is still in its burgeoning stage and your family probably wants to chew on your news on their own timetable. When she doesn't have to manage your family's feelings but also isn't "shielded" from yours, you'll know you've hit the right balance.

October 18th, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I just recently came to terms with knowing that I am bisexual. I tend to be more attracted to women but I'm still attracted to men. I just got a divorce from my wife who treated me like I wasn't a man because I'm bi and made me feel ashamed. I'm HIV positive, almost homeless, about to drop out of school, and a veteran of eight years. I have no friends or family up here in upstate New York and I'm at my wits' end. I don't know how much more I can take between my ex-wife making false police reports on me, having no food to eat, and being alone. I just don't know what to do and when I stumbled on your site, I figured I'd give it one last try. I don't know how much longer I can last like this; I'm not as strong as I used to be. Thanks for listening.

—John from Poughkeepsie

I'm so glad you reached out to me, John. This is a terrible time for you right now but you're going to get through this. I have no doubt whatsoever that you will weather this difficult storm and come out stronger on the other side because you'll know that if you got through that, you can get through anything.

You need support, and badly. You're vulnerable on just about every possible front. If you can move to where friends or family are, do so, and as soon as possible. Move in with them temporarily so you can have a home, food, and contact with people who love you. I suspect that you don't want to be a burden on anyone but in dire straits -- and, John, they don't get more dire than you've described -- you have to swallow your pride and ask for help. It's a necessary stepping stone to getting back on your feet. Keep in mind that until you have at least a temporary home and you know where your next meal is coming from, you won't be able to fully help yourself. Because you're moving, you'll need to drop out of school for now but credits do transfer. It doesn't mean you'll never go back. However, getting hundreds of miles away does mean that your ex-wife will probably stop calling the cops on you.

When you get settled with people who love you, your plan of action should be to get into the social service system. Leave no stone unturned: find the nearest support center for HIV-positive people, for veterans, for the homeless, and for elders if you're 50 years old or older. Ask each of them to assign you a social worker; they can provide and suggest resources like food, housing opportunities, legal assistance, debt relief, and employment. There IS help out there for you, especially since you fall into certain categories of vulnerable people.

John, summon your energy and call a friend or family member today to see if they'll put you up for a while. If the first person you call can't help, keep calling friends until someone can. Then throw whatever you own into your car and go to them. Please let people help you. And check back in with me so I know that you're doing better. The bi community is pulling for you.

UPDATE for "Looking to Provide Support": There's a new Facebook group called "Bi Standers" for mates, partners, husbands, and wives of mixed-orientation marriages, state-recognized or otherwise. It's a cyber space for all members of these long-term relationships who want support or to be supportive to others.

September 6th, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year, and have unfortunately been long-distance for the majority of such time. However, we have planned for me to move in with him this coming January, something I've never done in a relationship before, so I'm already a little nervous.

He confided in me that he has been curious about having sex with another male, but more recently described this desire as more of a craving for submissive behavior (on his end). Since we have agreed to an exclusive relationship, I have been very willing and open to sexually experimenting to satisfy him. For example, we bought a strap-on and plan to use it the next time we can be intimate. Up until this point, I have had a slight feeling of insecurity in relation to his attraction, but we have talked it out and everything has been fine.

I am fully aware that he enjoys gay porn and have absolutely no ill feelings regarding it. What I did have a poor reaction to, however, was when he sometimes refuses to masturbate with me via Skype (while we are apart) because he would rather masturbate to porn.

In hearing this, I felt unwanted and very betrayed because most of the time that is as physical as we can possibly get. Though we've talked through it and have come to a resolution, I'm having issues in feeling sexually connected to him (on top of the distance). I've found myself looking at other men as prospects and occasionally feeling like, sexually, the relationship has been tainted. This is especially alarming and shameful to me because I consider myself to be a very loyal lover, though in that, I expect the same in return. So far, he has agreed to such, but I definitely feel like that was a step in the wrong direction. I want to be sure to explain that I would feel just as betrayed and hurt if he was looking at porn with other women instead of me, but being straight, this does make it a little more confusing for me.

Any input you have in regards to the situation would be greatly appreciated. And yes, I know, it doesn't mean he doesn't love me!

—Red Flag or Minor Mishap?

You've been doing everything right so far. For the record, there's nothing about a man wanting to be pegged (i.e. be penetrated by a female partner wearing a strap-on dildo) or even watching gay male porn that says he's necessarily queer. And as you've outlined, that's not really the issue anyway.

Having a partner who masturbates, with or without tools (including porn), is not inherently problematic. It's only a red flag when s/he does it instead of being intimate with a willing partner. But you've communicated and resolved this dilemma, and you continue be open to trying new things in the boot-knockin' department. All excellent stuff.

Did his incidents of "porn-over-partner" occur after you agreed to move in together, or perhaps when the move-in date came close enough to feel real? If so, it might be partly a reaction of nervousness on his part. He could be pushing you away and subconsciously soaking up every last bit of alone-time before you live together. Similarly, your wandering eye is most likely a way to "protect" yourself from him making you feel unwanted and betrayed again, as if to say, "I don't need him. I could find someone else in a snap."

It's completely normal to be freaked out by deciding to live with your partner. In fact, there's virtually always a bit of mutual resistance just before —and just after— a move-in. You know, a smart lady once told me that it doesn't mean he doesn't love you (or vice versa)…

I will admit, Minor Miss with the Crimson Flag, that I'm just a smidgen worried about you, only because I'm not sure whether you have a support system in your new location. Please put effort into creating one, or making sure the one you're leaving will still be there to catch you if you fall. That way, if you and your man ultimately decide that you're not on the same page, sexually or otherwise, you'll know that you can handle it. But bottom line: no need to worry just yet. Keep communicating and ride out the move-in. Things will be much clearer on the other side.

August 23rd, 2011
Dear Wild Deuces,

It occurs to Tiggy that there is a lot of bad advice out there, confusing the lot of us and putting a wrench in our interpersonal relations, bisexual or otherwise. From antiquated myths to advisors with the occasional blind spot, there's no lack of sources for these counterproductive ideas and it's tough not to adopt those that we've heard over and over.

So I thought that instead of answering questions on this Tuesday, I'd instead squash some of the worst offenders in one fell swoop. Won't that be cathartic? Here goes…

Intimacy cannot be measured in time. Relationships cannot be judged by length.

Perhaps not having had a long-term relationship is an indicator that there's something holding you back. Perhaps it's an indicator that you exit unhealthy relationships at the right time. Either is as likely as the other.

There's a difference between privacy and shame.

If all of your friends have met someone (or many someones) and you haven't, the most likely reason is that while there's a lot of what they're looking for, there's comparably less of what you're looking for.

Just because someone doesn't date or have sex - with a specific kind of person or at all - doesn't mean they don't want to.

Problematic dating behavior doesn't necessarily stem from past trauma.

There are circumstances when it's OK to break up with someone over the phone.

You can end a relationship for virtually any reason. You do not lose your right to do so because the person in question has not hurt you.

Dating online is not for losers, nor does it indicate a participants' mindset of ordering off a menu.

You will grow out of dating obnoxious people with whom it will never work. You will be attracted to other kinds of people.

Opposites might attract but they generally don't get along.

There is no such thing as being "too picky." If you wanted to be partnered more than you wanted to be happy, you'd settle.

Losing your virginity (which is a worthless construct anyway) beyond the drinking age is not at all uncommon and it's not a reflection of your value as a lover, partner, or even eye-candy.

One of the best things about same-sex dating and relationships is that you aren't bound to the bizarre social conventions and gendered behavior guidelines of opposite-sex dating. That said, you still need to treat your romantic counterpart as such, and not as casually as a friend.

August 9th, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I am a 28-year-old man in a seven-year relationship with my male partner. For the last two years, we have been in an open relationship and have been very successful in our endeavors - so successful that I have come out to my partner about my sexual attraction to women. He has been very supportive and caring about it, and I can't thank him enough.

I don't have much experience with women and I'm not sure how to get the ball rolling. I've had a lot of female friends that I've had feelings for but never took action for obvious reasons. Should I be honest about my sexuality and my relationship? Am I deluding myself for thinking there would be any women interested in me?


Dang it, what's with all you Wild Deuces lately thinking that no one is going to like you? Gay-Now-Bi, you've got a man who loves you enough for a seven-year commitment and accepts you for who you are. You must be the shiznit to attract caliber like that. I bet the whole district digs your chili.

The answers to your questions, in order, are a solid "yes" and a solid "no." I don't have quite enough information on your love style or your specific brand of poly relationship to tell you how to proceed but here's a possible game plan that you might be able to shape to your liking…

Go to mixed-gender parties or bars and get to chatting with a woman you find attractive. Don't be afraid to flirt - the ladies will love it. If she asks about your relationship status, just say, "I have a boyfriend but we're open and I'm bi." If the situation feels right, you two can make out. Then, tell your dude-lovin' female friends about it. They'll be psyched for the gossip, and it gives you the perfect "coming out" tool. Better still, it sets the stage for possibly flirting with them in the future; they'll be more receptive instead of being caught all unawares. Voila, the word will be out that you're open for business, and customers will not be refused for too much estrogen!

Oh, one more thing: you might want to get hooked up with the bi community and meet the bevy of women who prefer bi guys. Didn't know that group existed, didja? Check out Ann Herendeen's books and stand-up comedy…she'll tell you allll about it.

July 26, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I'm glad I found the site and your advice column. I am pretty surprised to find that I've made it to 42 and am still closeted about my bisexuality, especially considering how many awesome queer friends I have now and over the years. I've reached a really conflicted point in my life, though, and something has to change.

I believe one of the issues that has held me back from being open or pursuing any relationships with women (other than some wonderful sexual experiences in college) is that a platonic lesbian friend once really shut me down when I expressed interest in women. We had gone out to a lesbian club and I commented to her that there was a wide, empty circle around me on the dance floor. She said, "Yeah, they can smell the straight on you." I was crushed started to feel hopeless about any same-sex potential. I am femme, completely, but that would undoubtedly be pleasing to many. I put my head down and only dated men since then, but lately her comment has haunted me. She and others have also said things to me like, "Oh, you like dick too much."

The other issue is that, during times of potential intimacy with the man I have dated most recently, I felt really tense and broke down in tears. I chalked it up to simply not being over a past relationship; it's partly true but I just don't think that's the whole story. As someone else wrote to you, when I masturbate it is exclusively to female images and women's porn. I am becoming aware that I might like to have the chance to date another woman, but fear that I won't be accepted by other bi women or lesbians.

I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on my history. Thank you for listening.

—Mid-Life Bi

You never dated women because someone made a rude "joke" to you, once, years ago?

I don't think one unkind comment has the power to scare you off loving ladies forever. It's more likely that you're hanging on to that as an excuse not to date. But what are you so afraid of? Of course some queer women are going to like you! There's not only a huge community of bisexuals out there, but there's also a powerful movement of Femme Pride.

You know what I'd be afraid of if I were you? Living the rest of my life without ever discovering this fun, fascinating part of myself.

It's pretty generous for you to describe your LBT friends as "awesome" when it seems that they've given you little support for your sexual awakening. The good news is that you don't need the approval of every - or any - queer woman on this issue. They're not gatekeepers to the Kingdom of Lady Love; only you hold the key.

There's nothing stopping you from dating women except yourself. You can dig deep and discover your arcane reasons for doing that, but I have an even better idea: skip the self-therapy and just start dating women. Online dating was made for your situation. Bite the bullet, post a profile, and start making dates.

You don't have to have everything all figured out; just go on some fun dates with interesting women and see if you click with any of them. It's as easy as that. Don't spend one more minute of your life wishing you had.

July 12, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I'm a 58-year-old, twice-divorced man. Ever since I hit puberty and had some homosexual encounters with a cousin and other pubescent male friends, I've desired the sexual activities but have zero-zip-zilch emotional connection with men.

I NEVER look at a man and say, "Wow... I'd really like to [sexual activity]." But I always notice women, am attracted to them - and they to me - and enjoy both sex and emotional connection with them. However, for years, I frequented adult bookstores with video booths with glory holes and performed oral sex on many men anonymously. I also have had anal sex with men less than a dozen times. After the physical encounters, I experience the most debilitating shame and guilt to the point of suicide (which I obviously I haven't carried out since I'm still here).

I haven't done anything with a man in a very long time but the desire is still there. I think about it every day. I wish I could satisfy the physical desire, but there's just no way that I would ever want a real relationship with a man. My relationships with women are positive and fulfilling, yet this other desire is always present. I'm in a relationship with a woman now (not living together, though) and she would not tolerate this kind of behavior.

Any thoughts, ideas, "cures"?

—Crater Lake

My dear, I am neither willing nor able to "cure" you of human sexuality, as there is nothing sick about it. From where I sit, your problems regarding this issue are: 1.) post-sex shame/guilt, and 2.) securing an optimal emotional and sexual situation.

For the first, I'm so sorry to hear that shame and guilt over something that is not wrong is eating you up. If you're ever suicidal again, please call 1-800-SUICIDE immediately. When your brain is set on self-destruct over something as benign as consensual sex between adults, you are not thinking clearly. One of the hotline counselors can talk you down until you realize how senseless and terrible it would be to take your own life.

There's only one way I know of to get rid of shame: you have to get your secret out. It's been locked up in your mind, festering and poisoning you, making you think crazy things like that you're bad for doing what you do. Unburden yourself from this secret and feel the weight lifted from your shoulders. Say it out loud.

I'm sending you on a Get-It-Off-My-Chest Mission. Don't start out by shouting it from the rooftops, though; pace yourself...

1. Tell one person online who you'll never meet anyway. (Hey, you already told me - nice job!)

2. Tell more people online: chat anonymously with likeminded folks on one of the Craigslist discussion forums.

3. Tell a therapist: let him know that you want to work on alleviating shame surrounding your sexual behavior.

4. Ask him to recommend an appropriate men's conversation group. Tell the people there.

By then, you'll hear that other people have the same sexual and romantic feelings and activities as you. I promise that experiencing that validation is unlike anything else.

As for the second, that's what we're all looking for. You're really not that different from everyone else, I swear. Maybe you'll decide that you can live without having other sexual partners as long as you can stay with your lady. Here's a secret that I told Conan O'Brien: nobody gets exactly what s/he wants in this world. "Good enough" can be pretty darned good. However, if I may say so, it doesn't sound like you're content with the status quo.

I think you've done some great work in identifying your ideal situation: a sexual and emotional relationship with a woman, with the freedom to have the occasional sexual encounters with men. If you want to stay with your current partner, at least consider asking her if she would be amenable to an arrangement that meet your desires. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

If you and she decide to part ways, you might find some folks on your Mission whose desires match well with yours (like people in the poly community). Of course, it's hard to negotiate your needs with a potential romantic partner, and yeah, some of them might "run screaming from the room," as it were, but you know what? Lots of them won't. Many of them will have their own quirks to bring to this bargaining table. Some of them will even be turned on by what you're into. And if you're lucky, one very special character will fit you perfectly.

Courage, friend. Check back in to let us know how your Mission goes.

June 28, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

This is probably the most asked question, but how can I rebut people who don't believe that bisexuals exist? I tend to get into arguments about this. Is there anything more I can say besides, "Yes, we do"?


Advice columnists always say the same thing about these scenarios: don't give a snappy comeback, just rise above their rudeness. And they're right, that is what you should do. But ask yourself: is it more important to be right or to be a wise-ass? On Tiggy Tuesdays, the answer is always (b). (Note: everything hinges on the delivery with these, so be sure to practice.)

Cautious: "Well, I mean, maybe I'll come out as fully gay when I'm comfortable with it. I've identified as bi for 17 years now, so I think in another 17, I might be ready."

Condescending: "I know you don't, Sweetie. It's OK, you can understand sex at your own pace. Only married men and women 'do it,' and only to have babies. You just take your time."

Confession: "OK, OK, you're right. Bisexuality is just something that the Witness Protection Program made up. Thanks for blowing my cover, jackass. Now I have to move again."

Current Events: "No, I'm not a closeted lesbian. I'm actually the real Whitey Bulger. I'm just really, really trying to throw people off the trail. Thank God they nabbed that old guy - who was that?"

Greedy: "People think I'm just greedy, but you're the one denying entire genders your smoldering hotness. Aren't you the selfish one here?

Existential: "Did you ever think that bisexuals are real, and everyone else is lying? And that we're all just part of someone's elaborate dream? What is the sound of one bisexual clapping?

I'm Rubber, You're Glue: "We don't believe that you exist either…well, the Tooth Fairy believes you exist but he thinks you're an asshole."

Living Under a Rock: "You don't think bisexuals exist? I…I've never heard that before. What an astute view of sexuality - hey, have you heard about this new 'Kinsey' study that just came out?"

Sarcastic: "You're probably right. Personally, I'm just a closeted gay but I'm saying I'm bi because everyone's way more accepting of that."

Responding to an ex-boyfriend: "You apparently didn't believe that my clitoris existed either, so pardon me if I don't take your word for it."

Responding to a straight homophobe: "You know, for someone who purports to be so straight, you sure seem to know a lot about queer life."

Responding to a gay friend: "We exist as much as that girl you secretly fucked six years ago."

Responding online, A.K.A. Godwin's Law: "What else are you going to deny the existence of —- the Holocaust?!?!"

The Flirt: "Twenty minutes alone with me, and I'll have you believing you're bisexual." [wink]

The Contest: "YES! I only need three more people to deny that bisexuals exist, and then I win an iPod."

The T-Shirt: "It's not a phase, it's my life."

June 14, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I'm a sixteen-year-old girl and I'm at a really confusing part in my life. As a kid, I identified as straight because I didn't know there was any other option. I had my first real crush when I entered ninth grade, and it was on a girl. I really wanted her to be my girlfriend. I was really confused, but I made myself get over her. I see girls and check them out. There's so many of them at my school, it's like constant bombardment. Every crush I get is on a girl. I do think guys can be cute, though. There's this one boy that I want as a boyfriend.

Thinking about sex with a guy sounds painful to me, but I've never tried it. I'm also curious as to what sex with a girl would feel like. Girls really turn me on. One of my friends came out as lesbian to me and I felt like I should have come out to her, but I have no idea what I am. I have never kissed or been with anyone before. I want to come out. Should I come out as bi?


I want you to think of your sexuality label as a favorite shirt.

Do you have one favorite shirt for your whole life? Probably not -- maybe you grow out of it, maybe you move to a different climate and it's not warm enough anymore, maybe styles change and argyle suddenly seems passe. But it's just a shirt, not a suitcase of diamonds that you've handcuffed yourself to. When it's not working for you anymore, you get a new one.

The two most important things about this shirt are that you like it and it fits. Only you can decide those things; no one else has to wear your shirt, so they can't judge whether it's bunching up in the armpits or if the color kind of washes you out. Tiggy the Saleslady can offer you some suggestions but remember that it's always in your hands. Don't let some fool put a shirt on you. And hey, don't overthink it. Worse case scenario: you get a case of buyer's remorse, so you get a new shirt. No biggie.

Lemme take a look at you...I'd say you're probably a size "Q" for "Questioning." We don't really know until you try it on, though. You don't have to wear it in front of anyone right away, or ever. Take plenty of time to look in the mirror and decide how it feels. People usually determine the comfortability based on whether it jibes with their crushes, their fantasies, their romantic history, their politics, their culture, and their view of themselves. You call the shots on how important each one of those things is. Finding the right fit is an art, not a science.

If the "Bisexual" label feels better to you, then great, go with that. "Bisexual" was a label that a lot of questioning folks used to use before "Questioning" became an option. Some bis are still touchy about that, but only because after using our label as a safe harbor, a handful of former-bis went on to spread the false rumor that all bis are just closeted gays/lesbians. (What people don't realize is that a large amount of folks do the opposite, i.e., identify as gay or lesbian and then later change their label to bisexual.) So as long as you're not a hater later, you're more than welcome to snag a fabulous bi shirt for however long you want it.

Why don't you research what each letter of our community means and see how you feel about them: LGBTTTQQIAA. Also, check out the definitions of these B.I. (bi-inclusive) identities: fluid, pansexual, omnisexual, and pomosexual. You might decide to keep your Straight shirt on for now even though you think you're growing out of it - that works, too. Last but not least, there are many people who are most content with no sexuality label at all. That's right, even going topless is an option.

I know that this process can make you feel like you're in an airport on a layover; you just want to get where you're going already. But we're all on our own lifelong, dynamic journeys of sexuality, and getting there is much more than half the fun. I think you should focus on building relationships with people you think are cool, entirely regardless of gender. Absolutely do not push yourself to try anything romantic or sexual that makes you uncomfortable; it will not "prove" anything about your sexuality one way or another.

Good luck, Booklover, and happy shirt shopping!

May 31, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

My friend and I are having a dispute and I'm wondering if you can help me out. He says that there's no real reason to tell my health care provider that I'm bi because I can essentially just be treated as a gay person or a straight person, depending on with whom (or whether) I'm having sex around the time of my visit. I think he's wrong but I can't seem to articulate why. Help?

—HMO but not quite H-O-M-O

I think there's something to be said for coming out as bi whenever possible in order to shrug off this invisibility cloak that we keep finding ourselves under. It would do your health care providers -- heck, the world -- well to understand just how many bi folks they're really dealing with every day. But beyond simply making a statement, you should disclose because the health of bi folks is at greater risk in a variety of ways than straights and, believe it or not, lesbians/gays.

Amy Andre and Cheryl Dobinson are two of the most prominent bi health researchers in the world, and their work in the NGLTF's "Bisexual Health" book is critical to your argument. You don't have to read the whole thing, just skip to Appendix A for the top ten bisexual health issues. I'm talking about addictive substance use, cancer, depression/anxiety, suicidal ideation, and more. I'll say it again: we're statistically worse off than all non-bis. That's pretty shocking.

Unfortunately, when we're not out and counted, these facts are hidden. So when researchers like Andre and Dobinson attempt to study bi health, they are strongly urged to research gays and lesbians instead because we bis are considered an insignificant niche. This leads to a lack of bi health information on our community, convincing us that our health issues are the same as gays/lesbians or straights and, thus, we don't need to identify to our providers. This confirms to research funders that it would be a waste of time supporting bi health projects, and...well, you get the idea. It's a vicious cycle of bad bi health.

It's entirely up to you whether you disclose your bisexuality to your doc but I think it could only help, assuming s/he is a professional and provides a safe space. And if the only reason you're not disclosing is because you think it'll freak out the medical staff, let me tell you: those people have heard way worse. I mean WAY worse. Rest assured, whatever kind of sex you're having, you can not gross out a nurse. Believe that.

May 17, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I'm in a long-term relationship with the sweetest, most caring man in the world for six years. Sounds great, right? We just have one problem: I still occasionally crave a female sex partner. It got so bad at one point that I actually could not engage in sex with him. He allowed me to be with a female one time and we have been perfectly fine in the bedroom since. Now I've noticed that he's become very insecure about my bisexuality and keeps asking if he is going to have to deal with that need every few years. I have no idea how to a) turn off that desire or b) help him to understand that it's something that I personally can't control. Please help.

—In Love with Needs

Of course he's insecure about this. You both agreed to monogamy but now you want to change the rules mid-game. That'll throw a dude off. From the looks of it, he probably feels like you withheld sex and then used your bisexuality as an excuse to justify your "need." Please understand that this isn't a need, it's just a desire. It's true that you can't turn it off but that's not to say that you're at its mercy.

Let's be clear: bisexuality and polyamory are two different things. Bisexuals don't need a constant stream of both men and women any more than, say, a straight man needs a constant stream of blondes, brunettes, redheads, and raven-haired beauties. (Let us pause a moment to enjoy that yummy mental visual.) That's a good thing because we'd all be exhausted trying to hook up with short and tall people, loud and quiet people, folks with brown/blue/hazel/green eyes - shoot, you'd have to bed the cast of Glee just to keep up. We do not need to fulfill our every urge, and a knack for enjoying the many genders provides no exception. When you choose to have a monogamous relationship, you choose not to act on your hankering to bone anyone other than your partner, regardless of demographic categories filled.

Do a cost-benefit analysis: would you rather enjoy the benefits of monogamy and forego being with women, or be free to be with women and eschew monogamy? It sounds like being poly is your preference but the catch here is that your beloved does not seem amenable. It's possible, though, that if you come to an agreement of terms well in advance, that structure and transparency could make him feel secure enough to give it a go. (However, I'd warn against giving him a false sense of controlling your sexuality, i.e. him "allowing" you to be with someone.) Additionally, I'd take pains to make him see that your interest in an open relationship is not based on his supposed shortcomings. Let him know that he's good enough, and that it's not about that.

Nonetheless, if your guy is still not interested in an open relationship after you hash it out, you have a choice to make: monogamy with him or polyamory without him. I hate to say this to a fellow bi, but you can't have it both ways.

May 3, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I came out as bisexual last May and I've been talking to this girl for about a year. Things were going great until I started dating this guy who ultimately violated me a few weeks later. The girl I was talking to got really jealous and started talking to me about a certain guy that she only likes in order to get back at me. I can understand her jealousy and I can respect her feelings, but I am so hurt, so angry (at myself mostly), and just miserable. I want to make things right with her and for her to stop talking to me about her guy. I want what we had before guys even came into the picture.

Because I am so new at this, I'm wondering if it's okay to have both a guy and a woman in my life at the same time. Is it normal? Or do I need to stick with one person at a time? I have been crying for over a week because I feel like I hurt my girl's feelings and never thought she would get this jealous. I thought she would be accepting of it since I am very accepting of her dating her guy. Plus, I asked her to back off and give me some space to think, but it hurts that she's now non-existent. I want to talk to her, not for her to ignore me.

I don't know what to do or say. I am just lost. I would appreciate some feedback. Thank you.


Reading this letter makes me feel like I was run over by a moped-riding clown. Allow me to help sort this out, but first: you glossed over the fact that someone "violated" you. I'm not sure exactly what you mean but if you need someone to talk to, you can call RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE any time of day or night. Please don't use your relationship dilemma to distract yourself from such an important personal issue.

Alright, onward: it appears that your major problem is a lack of concrete boundaries in these relationships. You're "talking" to this woman, she's "talking" to this guy — what does this mean? This stuff needs to be defined and the only way to do that is through honest communication. Based on what you've written, I have to admit that I don't know if either of you are capable of that right now. Jealousy-induced revenge on someone you like is immature behavior. Moreover, if she knew that this man you were dating violated you and is still trying to make you feel bad, that's unacceptable treatment. Meanwhile, you ask if you can have relationships with a man and a woman simultaneously but you also say you want what you both had before guys came into the picture. You tell her to back off and then lament her absence.

Enough. Sit down, clear your head, and decide what you really want. Don't base it on what you think she wants or what you think is "normal"; there is no "normal." There are plenty of people who have relationships with more than one person, whatever the gender, and they are called "polyamorous." Since there are lots of ways to be poly, you will need to define exactly what that would mean for both of you, if that's what you want. Frankly, it looks to me like you need to stick with NO people at this time. Regardless, you should do two really hard things: be honest with yourself and be honest with her. Figure it out, once and for all, and then tell her without all of the childish games.

And you know, as long as you're being honest with yourself, you might acknowledge that you've helped create this dramafest because it gives you a thrill. Or it did…I mean, I'm sure it seemed exciting at first, but a week of wailing and gnashing of teeth isn't exactly a trip to Six Flags, is it? Being honest about your feelings is scary but I promise you'll find it more fulfilling in the end, no matter what the outcome.

May 3, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I'm glad you started writing an advice column because I've got a question that I think you are uniquely placed to answer. It goes like this: I'm dating pretty much the coolest woman ever. She's bi, and I'm a garden-variety straight guy. I'm not a super-newbie to the world of LGBT activism and of supporting my friends in the community, but the more time I spend with her, the more I realize that I don't really have a great idea of what it means to be a bi ally or supporter. So much of the LGBT work I've done has focused on the L, G, or T. I kind of don't know how to do the bi ally thing, at least not in any specificity or detail.

So here's my question for you: aside from just generally being a decent boyfriend, what specific things can I do to make sure that I'm being a good bi ally both to her, and for her community? What sorts of actions can I take? Are there any resources out there for straight folks who want to be good allies to the bi-community, or a bi romantic partner in particular? Books, blogs, etc? I want to make sure I'm respecting the whole of my girlfriend's personality and life experiences, and I won't be able to do that right if I'm not being a good bi ally. Any recommendations?

—Looking to provide support

You know what's great? That someone would even ask this question.

You know what stinks? That I can't answer it.

I looked around for a website, book, essay, anything to drop some knowledge on non-bi partners of bi folks. As near as I can tell, it doesn't exist. I then tried to find some information on how white people can support their non-white romantic partners, thinking that some of those tips might be transferrable. Believe it or not, even that doesn't seem to be out there. Oy.

So I guess I'll have to wing it. Here's the key: since bisexuality means something different to all of us, start by asking her what it means to her. Come from a place of humility. Really listen. Don't judge. Believe her.

I also think you'd do well to focus on #3 and #8 on the BRC's "How to be an Ally to a Bisexual Person" brochure: celebrate bi culture with your partner in whatever way she prefers and stick up for bis when an opportunity arises. The bittersweet reality is that since bis so rarely get support, a little goes a long way.

If I may say so, your lady sure is lucky to have a partner who's so eager to support her.

Readers, let me know how you think non-bi partners can be good allies and I'll include your suggestions in a future column.

April 19, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

How do you come out as bi to friends and family if you're already in a heterosexual marriage?

I'm a guy who was always primarily interested in girls, but open to possibilities. My relationships from high school on were exclusively with women. I didn't sleep with a guy until my late 20s, which was fun and gave me a chance to explore something I'd always been curious about.

Shortly after that, I started exclusively dating a woman whom I later married. She's bisexual, too, though she had only one brief non-hetero relationship. Within our marriage, we've found space to explore our same-sex interests through fantasy, porn, and safe play with other bisexual couples. The outside world, though, sees our marriage and thinks of me as "straight." That bugs me a little, because I feel there's more to me than that, and I'm proud of it.

Is there a point to coming out? How the hell do you do it when the usual impetus (same-sex dating) isn't something you're planning anymore?

—Not Just Straight

Sure, there's a point – a few of them, actually. In your situation, coming out can give you a feeling of integrity, a sense of oneness and wholeness, like you're not accidentally lying-by-omission, like there's nothing to be ashamed of. It can make you, and other people just like you, realize that they're not alone, that there's a whole community of married bisexuals out there. It can be personally validating, a way of saying, "I really am bi. This isn't just something that I'm playing out in my head." Of course, there are legitimate reasons to not come out as well, but it sounds to me like you'd like to find a way to do it.

Now that we've established why you might come out, I think you need to decide exactly who to come out to. The easiest folks to tell are other beguiling, bodacious bisexuals. Check BiNet's map of bi groups in the U.S. to see if there's one near you, and all the better if they offer a specific group for bi married people. If you can't find a group like that, you can start your own on Surely if you're suave enough to seal the deal with other bi couples, you can invite them over for a simple coffee klatsch, eh? For pointers on how to get a bi support group up and running, the BRC has a brand new pamphlet that you can download here.

Still having trouble rounding up local bis? Start volunteering with the nearest LGBT organization. They may not have a lot of bisexuals in their ranks but these days, lots of Ls and Gs are eager to welcome Bs and Ts. When you volunteer regularly, eventually someone will ask how you got involved with the organization. You can reply that you're bisexual and want to connect with the community (or whatever other phrase you rehearse in your head 100 times and wait with bated breath for someone to prompt).

Once you're out to other queer people, you may want to take the next step and just be generally "out," as it were. It's an easy, three-part process…
  1. Put the message out there. In college, the trick was to put a bi button on your backpack or bulletin board, or a bumper sticker on your car. It turns out that those methods work at any age and, as always, the BRC's got you covered…covered in bi swag, that is. You can also start casually mentioning in conversation – meaning, of course, Facebook status updates – your interactions with the local queer group, what with all of the volunteering and socializing you're doing now.
  2. Have a stock phrase ready in case anyone wants to verify. "Oh, Ursula and I are both bisexual. It's never been a secret or anything, it's just that most people don't know because we're married to each other."
  3. Let it spread virally. It's a pain to have to come out to everyone on the planet individually so you'll enjoy having your gossipy friends do it for you. Ironically, it's necessary to outsource when you Bi American.

I'm sure there are a few people who you'll feel the need to have a "coming out" talk with, like your best friend or your siblings. I'd say you should tackle that some time after coming out to other queer folks but before you start in with the bi buttons. You'll be more comfortable with it at that point, and your new LGBT friends can provide excellent support and suggestions to you.

Doesn't this sound fun? We can't wait to welcome you into the community! Git outta that closet – how'd you even get in there?! Gas up the ol' bi-mobile and ride right on over to Out Town. All of the other married bisexuals sure will be happy to see you.

April 5, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I’m a bi woman in a relationship with a man whom I love and we have a great sex life. I still masturbate sometimes and when I do, I like to look at pictures and videos of naked women. I’m worried that he’ll find out that I like female porn and feel bad about himself because of it. It kills me to think that I might make him feel like he’s not enough for me or not what I want, or that he doesn’t turn me on. None of that is true at all! I just like mainstream female porn when I masturbate, I don’t know why.

Should I give up the porn entirely? I suppose I could incorporate it into our sex life but I don’t want to. Is it OK for me to like this stuff? If he ever finds out that this is what I like to masturbate to, is there anything I can say so that he doesn’t feel terrible about it?


It’s OK for you to like that stuff, and I think that’s the issue at hand here. I think if you start to see how many people – women, especially – enjoy porn and how varied our interests are, the shame angle of your story will dissipate and you’ll feel a lot less anxious about this. I get that you’re sincerely concerned for your boyfriend’s feelings but I also think that you’re projecting your discomfort onto him.

To get good with your totally normal porn appreciation, make a plan to go to a women-only event or two at the nearest progressive, women-owned sex shop, e.g. Good Vibrations in Boston and San Francisco, Babeland in Seattle and NYC, Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis and Denver, etc. I think it’ll do you good to see so many other women who are cool with whatever might turn them on. After that, summon up the courage to ask a few of your own female friends if they ever look at porn.

Next, pick up Violet Blue’s A Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn. The book is a review of how women can find porn that they like and addresses the obstacles therein, including how formulaic it is, the typical anti-women content, and more. The very first section in the first chapter is entitled, “Women Are Turned on by Explicit Imagery, Period.” A validating read, for sure.

Finally, you can keep your mainstream female porn all to yourself if you like, but I suggest that you try some new things in bed with your boyfriend – toys, other kinds of porn, the sky’s the limit. The sex shops listed above will be helpful in getting your creative (and, uh, other) juices flowing in that regard. I hear that your sex life is “great” but I don’t know if that means there’s a lot of variety there. See, I doubt that mainstream female porn is the only thing that gets you going. Once you find some other sexual funsies that you and your dude can share, the fact that you have this one thing that you want to keep to yourself won’t bother you as much. If your boyfriend ever does stumble upon your masturbatory preferences, both of you will already be confident that your joint sex life is dynamic and multi-faceted, so I doubt it will feel threatening to him.

One last thing: do you think you and he might start an ongoing conversation on what it means to you to be bi? That’s the other thing I’m picking up on: your need to completely compartmentalize your desire for women and your desire for men, at least in front of your boyfriend.

Alright, now go ahead and start the best homework anyone’s ever been given.

March 22, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

What is your advice on strangers making assumptions about my orientation?

For example, I was eating dinner with a female friend (not date) one night. The next week I went into a coffee shop and saw two guys I was in a networking group with. One of the guys said, "Who was that cute girl you were with?" and other stuff implying that I was dating her. I was actually in a relationship with a man at the time but this guy didn't know that. I felt it was really inappropriate for this guy to make an assumption about me, whether or not he was right. Plus, if he had been right, then he had basically outed me to a business colleague.

Secondly, I am friends with a straight couple who have hinted things about women. It kind of pisses me off because I have never mentioned to them any interest or history in dating women. It makes me uncomfortable. They tend to gossip, and if I trusted them I might have told them where I am on the sexual continuum. If I were to date a woman I would tell them, but I don't like others pushing something I haven't shared first. This hasn't happened a lot but when it has, I feel it is intrusive.

Please note: I look very feminine, so it's not as if I dress butch or have a buzz cut and then wonder why I'm getting comments. I'm not really into labels, I'm on a fluid continuum, but I just want to be the one to be in charge of what I share about myself. Any advice?

—Don't Make Assumptions

Man, what is that urge to ask questions that are none of your business? I ask because I have it, too. My cousin got engaged to her long-time boyfriend recently and it's all I can do not to say to her, "So, are you guys gonna have kids soon?" Now, logically, I know that that's a classic jerkball question. It's a prime example of everything you should not ask people for reasons too plentiful to list. And yet, I still had the urge. I daresay this is a mystery of human nature that we may never solve.

The bottom line is that just because you want to know personal information about someone else doesn't mean you have a right to. I think in the age of TMZ, in which celebrities and even private citizens can nary blow their noses without it showing up on the six o'clock news, people have trouble understanding that basic fact. The examples you cite don't seem to describe intentionally mean behavior; these people are simply not controlling their urges of curiosity. But you're right: mean-spirited or not, it's not OK for anyone to make assumptions about your orientation.

I think just a slight perspective change on your part might make you feel better about it. Again, you have every right to keep your private life private. But just for a moment, consider all of the women out there who have been in your position but their colleagues never question it. These women are all wondering, "Why didn't they think I'm on a date with her? Are they that heterosexist? Maybe they just assume that I'm not queer because I look feminine. Or maybe they don't think a cute girl like that would ever date me." In a way, it's a bit of a compliment that all of these people sense what a love magnet you are.

For people who you don't know well, reply to their questions as simply as you can, in the same manner that your lawyer would counsel you to answer questions on the stand. "Who was that cute girl you were with?" "A friend from my book club." Period. Change the subject to networking. If they continue to make comments, pointedly but politely don't respond. This is best pulled off with a Mona Lisa smile. If that's not your style, try a wide-eyed blank look and a quirk of the eyebrows. Whatever you do, do not explain yourself. Do not tell them you're in a relationship with a man, do not tell them that you weren't on a date, etc. It's none of their business.

For people you know better, tell them that when you have something to share about your personal life, you'll let them know in your own time. Also mention that you're the kind of person who is more likely to open up if she's not pushed. They'll get the hint. This is how lots of my married friends are: they want all of the details of the wild, swingin' single life they think I'm having - and the gorier the details, the better. You should probably throw them a bone at some point, just for charity's sake.

March 8, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I'm engaged to the most incredible woman in the world (sorry, everyone else!). Everything is going fairly smoothly as we plan the wedding and our lives together but there's been one sticking point: she wants me to take her last name. Kind of insisting on it, actually.

Really, she just wants us to have the same last name. However, we agree that our last names are too clunky to be hyphenated, and we don't want our future kids to be stuck with that. I don't want her taking my name because I don't think we should change our names at all. For me, my name is my identity, so trading it out for my partner's doesn't sit well with me.

I hate to admit it, but there's a tiny part of me that thinks this has something to do with me being bi. (She's a lesbian.) Like, maybe she thinks that if I had wed a man, I would have changed my name for him. (I wouldn't have.)

Am I making a big deal out of nothing or should I stick to my guns? Or are we missing the compromise here?

—In Limbo

I'll bet a nickel it doesn't have anything to do with your being bi or her assumptions therein. You've done a good job of sussing out precisely what she wants - i.e. for you to have the same last name -- but you need to get to the bottom of why. The fact that you think it has something to do with your being bi indicates that you haven't fully communicated on this issue. Have you told her what you told me about your name being your identity? Have you asked her why it's important to her that you share a last name?

Start there and build a compromise. You haven't nearly exhausted all of your options on combining names - how about combining your names into a new one, like Melissa Etheridge did with Julie Cypher? How about keeping your names but each of you tattooing the other's on your back? - so don't be afraid to think outside the box as you try to satisfy your values.

For the record, whenever I've seen this issue before, the person who wants everyone to have to the same last name feels strongly that it makes them and their children an "official" family. If she's having trouble articulating why this issue is important to her, you might throw that out as a possibility.

March 8, 2011
Dear Tiggy,

I'm a bisexual woman in college "dating" (read: hooking up with) this guy I'll call "Dan." He's in a fraternity with "Michael" who's dating (read: going on dates with) my good friend, "Mary." Mary and I met in our university queer group.

Mary identifies as a lesbian but she genuinely likes Michael as a person and is dating him to see if there's some chemistry there. Although she's out, she hasn't yet mentioned to him that she's queer and somehow he doesn't know. She's going to tell him soon, before they even kiss. So that's all good.

Dan knows who Mary is because they're from the same town. He knows that she and I are friends because he's seen us together. I'm pretty sure he knows I'm bi; like Mary, I'm out but it hasn't come up.

The problem? Dan keeps asking me: "So, how do you know Mary?" I think he knows that I know her from the queer group and is trying to get me to say it.

Besides the fact her sexuality is none of his business, I don't want him to tell his frat brother that she's a lesbian before she does because: DRAMA. On top of that, I don't even feel like I can out myself to him now because he'll assume that I know Mary from the queer group and go running to Michael. So what do I say to him when he asks me that?

—Lambda Gamma Beta Tau

The next time he asks, look him in the eye and say, "Why do you keep asking me that?" If he gives a sort of non-committal, "I don't know" response, don't let him off the hook right away. Say, "But this is, like, the fourth time you've asked me that. Why?" You're essentially calling his bluff and he's likely to back down.

On the odd chance that he directly asks if Mary is a lesbian or if you know her from the queer group, ask him, "Why aren't you asking her this?" If he doesn't know her well enough to ask, then he doesn't need to know.

Keep in mind that he might actually be asking this to because he wants to know more about you. For that, go easy on him because he's not sure how to broach the subject. Let him know that you're happy to talk about yourself with him but you have a policy of not talking about other people's personal business.

And for future reference, if you can't say you know someone from the queer group because you don't want to out them (or yourself), always use the ol' "we have mutual friends" gambit. Hard to prove false and just vague enough to sound real.

brought to you by the BRC....