Monosexuality and the “It’s About the Person” Argument

One argument I’ve heard a lot in reference to bisexuality or pansexuality is “it’s not about the gender to me, it’s about the person.” Which is all well and good, of course, but I think it’s kind of unfair for people who are monosexual (straight or gay) or have some group of people that they are not attracted to for reasons of sex or gender. If this is the case, is it no longer “about the person?” Presumably, bisexual and pansexual people also have dealbreakers–perhaps related to things like marital status, smoker or non, children or childfree, financial situation, hobbies, drug use, location, or whatever else. When a group of people is excluded from dating consideration in this way, is it no longer “about the person?” If not, then why would this apply to gender? Food for thought.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.


  1. Also, it’s entirely possible to be bisexual and/or pansexual and have different sorts of attractions based on sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, etc. It seems to me that some people say “it’s not about the gender to me, it’s about the person” in a “holier/more sex-positive/cooler/more enlightened-than-thou” kind of way. As if not having a preference for a particular gender is a mark of being better.

    • Definitely. This is why I think defining sexuality strictly in terms of gender can be problematic, and frankly confuse a lot of people as they try to find the identity term that works for them. What if gender isn’t the most important thing? Or what if it is, to you, but you define gender differently from the masses?

      • I see what you mean. Actually, I think that trying to define sexuality is tricky at best because it easily turns into a set of limits on our choices. I find it works better to describe it, rather than define it.

        There’s a difference between “I’m gay/straight/bisexual/lesbian/etc.” and “I’m attracted to men/women/cisgender men/butches/leatherfags/etc.” (clearly, this is not meant to be a complete list of the possibilities) The first one becomes an identity, which can be more resistant to change or options. The second one is simply a statement or description and it leaves room for other possibilities. Even if I say “I have only ever been attracted to…”. there’s still the chance that something with change. Plus, it takes it out of the realm of identity politics and returns it to the individual’s desires. That seems to make it much less likely to turn into a fight.

  2. Real easy. Bisexual here (for the most part – a tad DID). For me it’s not about gender (as stated) – it’s “DO I LOVE THIS PERSON?”. Just that simple.

    Of course it makes a monogamous relationship like living a lie; feel like half my life is missing (been married 24 years). But that’s what society (and gays and straights and monos) demand . . . or else THEY will make your life miserable through social condemnation.

    Monosexuals seem to think they have the game cornered – and theirs is the only “right” game in town. Bisexuals – well, it seems we get hit with the shit stick every which way we turn – both from the gay crowd and the straight crowd. Just can’t win (As if life as a Bi wasn’t hard enough some times!)

    But Nobody said everyone had to be the same. However, Nobody seems to be in charge nowadays – you either run WITH the crowd – or the crowd will stomp you flat with hatred and contempt. (I should be used to that by now.)

    Really sucks in some ways.
    And that’s straight up.

  3. My opinion, for what it’s worth: The examples you give: hobbies, children, smoking… they’re your personal decisions about how you want to live your life. I wouldn’t want to be with someone in the military for example, or someone who was a conservative racist, because I couldn’t value their life choices and political beliefs. Monosexual people have a deal-breaker which is not “what do you think about this?” but “what ARE you?” It’s like saying I wouldn’t want to go out with a Welsh person, or an Arab or anyone who’s black, or someone who’s tall, or someone with fewer fingers.

    It says that something about the way you were born means I could never love you, even if we shared everything else in common. I can see why people might say it’s ‘holier-than-thou’, but for me love should be worth more than that.

    • *In response to something Charlie said above: Which is not to say I don’t have preference! I’ve heard an argument that Pan- is gender blind, whereas Bi- is still aware of gender, might have a preference for gender, but wouldn’t hold someone’s gender to be a deal breaker. Following this I think of myself as Bi(*) because yes, most of the time I feel comfortable with women more than men. It’s not too surprising given our culture. But I know I can fall in love with men as well, just more rarely.

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