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Navigating my understanding of sexuality through a Baskin-Robbins

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I don't have all the answers. But for Bisexual Awareness Week I wanted to share my understanding, even if it isn't perfect.

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I've heard it all - most of us have - the dismissal of people who identify as bisexual.

"Bi today, gay tomorrow." "I was bi once too, then I saw the light." "He's really gay, he just won't admit it." I've heard it from friends and I've heard it from guys I've dated, this dismissal of an entire population's identity because they don't quite understand it. They're afraid of it.

We've even seen some gay-rights activists convey the notion that bisexuality is some kind of purgatory, stuck between two realities.

It is not. For many millions of people, bisexuality is a fulfilling destination in and of itself. It's time we started respecting and understanding that a lot better.

I know my understanding of different sexualities comes from my love of ice cream.

Let's suppose I walk up to a counter at an ice cream shop and I'm given two choices: I can have a couple scoops of peanut-butter-fudge-caramel-swirl-with-chocolate-chunks, or I can have vanilla. It's not that I can't eat vanilla - I love ice cream. Yet I am going to choose the peanut-butter-explosion every time. Every. Single. Time. I'm not even going to dabble with the vanilla for a change of pace. Ever. Not when the other flavor takes my taste buds over the top.

The same is true with my sexuality. I've had girlfriends before - when there was no peanut-butter-explosion flavor to be found. And I enjoyed being with them. But in 1996 I met a peanut-butter explosion, with hot fudge, caramel sauce, whipped cream and nuts.

Since that day I have identified as gay. I could identify as bisexual - I'm a Kinsey 5.7, not a 6.0. But I'm proudly, deeply, gay.

I feel I've been fortunate to identify as gay. For the last two decades I've been spared the deeper societal struggles of identifying as bisexual. My romantic and social lives have been laid out before me: I'm going to have sex with men, I'm going to date men, I'm going to marry a man (well, I already did), and I'll live happily ever after (I already am). I couldn't be happier about it.

Our society doesn't afford bisexual people the same luxury. Constant questions and raised eyebrows about sexual pasts are part of their daily lives. Suspicion about whether their relationship is really what they want comes into play.

"I wish I was just gay," one bisexual college athlete told me recently. "I feel stuck between two lives."

That feeling of being "stuck" isn't inherent with bisexuality. On the Kinsey scale there are plenty of people who rate themselves a 1 to a 5. Some polls have said that number is higher than those who identify as a 0 or a 6 (totally straight or totally gay). Yet our culture would have you believe that 95% of the people are on one of the far ends of the spectrum, and that the people in the middle simply haven't made up their minds yet.

Our societal relationship-, sexual- and marriage-norms have forced a feeling of being "out-of-place" on Kinsey 3s. Identifying as bisexual casts doubt in the eyes of so many people who identify as gay and straight.

Because of our binary gender system, our culture has forced people to choose between liking men and women. If you're a woman, you can certainly explore the other gender in college, but by your mid-20s you really need to have figured out which gender you prefer. Men aren't even allowed to explore - If you've had sex with another dude, you're gay. Period.

In a world of grey areas, bisexual people aren't allowed by either the gay community or the straight world to express themselves fully.

The truth is, some people love both the peanut-butter-explosion and the vanilla equally - smack-dab in the middle at a Kinsey 3. Some may prefer one slightly over the other.

To so many, people who identify as bisexual represent the guy who holds up the line hemming and hawing over his choice of flavor, having to take a taste of each one before committing. They're labeled as people who can't make a "choice" by the same people who insist that sexual orientation isn't a choice at all.

To me bisexual people are another - and growing - color of our culture's widening rainbow. They're not a threat, they're not confused, they're not anything but true expressions of themselves. It's time gay people started treating bisexual people with the same respect and inclusion we demand from everyone else.