What bisexual youth can tell us about today’s gender and sexual identities
Despite the increasing visibility of LGBTQ people in American culture, our understanding of bisexuality remains superficial, at best. Yet, five times as many people identify as bisexual than as gay or lesbian, and as much as 25 percent of the population is estimated to be bisexual. In Bi, noted scholar of youth sexuality, Ritch Savin-Williams, brings bisexuality to centerstage at a moment when Gen Z and millennial youth and young adults are increasingly rejecting traditional labels altogether. Drawing on interviews with bisexual youth from a range of racial, ethnic, and social class groups, he reveals to us how bisexuals define their own sexual orientation and experiences—in their own words. Savin-Williams shows how and why people might identify as bisexual as a result of their biology or upbringing; as a bridge or transition to something else; as a consequence of their curiosity; or for a range of other equally valid reasons.
With an understanding that sexuality and romantic attachments are often influx, Savin-Williams offers us a way to think about bisexuality as part of a continuum. He shows that many of the young people who identify as bisexual often defy traditional views, dispute false notions, and reimagine sexuality with regard to both practice and identity. Broadly speaking, he shows that many young people experience a complex, nuanced existence with multiple sexual and romantic attractions as well as gender expressions, which are seldom static but fluctuate over their lives.
Savin-Williams provides an important new understanding of bisexuality as an orientation, behavior, and identity. Bi shows us that bisexuality is seen and embraced as a valid sexual identity more than ever before, giving us timely and much-needed insight into the complex, fascinating experiences of bisexual youth themselves.
Ritch C. Savin-Williams is Professor Emeritus of Developmental Psychology at Cornell University and the author of many books, including Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Men and The New Gay Teenager. He is a licensed clinical psychologist, and has appeared on Good Morning America, C-SPAN About-Books, All Things Considered, CBS Newsradio, CNN, BBC, Voice of America and others.
Plenty of people still doubt that bisexuality really exists, and others assume that bisexuals are closeted gays, curious heterosexuals, or maladjusted people who can’t decide what they want. No one can hold on to these outmoded stereotypes after reading Ritch C. Savin-Williams’ powerful book. By letting the voices of so many diverse individuals speak their own truths, in all of their individuality and complexity, he provides one of the clearest and most compelling portraits available of the phenomenon of plural attractions. Savin-Williams brings us right inside their experiences, and allows us to share his empathy, his curiosity, his admiration for their strength and courage, and his celebration of their dazzling diversity.
~Lisa M. Diamond, author of Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire
Bi is the book that we have all been waiting for. It reveals the inside story of the thoughts and feelings of Generation Z with respect to their identities, sexualities, genders, and relationships. Ritch Savin-Williams explains in the lucid and passionate language of adolescents and young adults why they want to disrupt the binaries of their parents' generation and create their own ways of understanding themselves and each other. I learned a tremendous amount about adolescence and about humans, especially how they and we are driven by our desires to be seen, heard, taken seriously, and loved. Bi will change how you think and feel. Read it!
~Niobe Way, author of Deep Secrets: Boys' Friendships and the Crisis of Connection
Ritch C. Savin-Williams shows all of the ways bisexuality has been misunderstood. Through the stories and voices of people who themselves experience their sexuality in this way, he shows that bisexuality is real, measurable, and valuable to understand.
~Mary Robertson, author of Growing Up Queer: Kids and the Remaking of LGBTQ Identity
Savin-Williams offers a necessary, nuanced, and accessible book that foregrounds contemporary uses and understandings of sex, gender, and sexuality … an essential book for activists, practitioners, and scholars of youth and sexuality.