Dr. Mimi Hoang on Bisexuality, Pansexuality, Asexuality & Sexual Fluidity – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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This week Joe welcomes Dr. Mimi Hoang onto the show. Mimi is a nationally-recognized psychologist, educator, author, and activist specializing in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, LGBTQ+ and Asian Pacific Islander communities.

They talk about bisexuality, pansexuality, asexuality and sexual fluidity; the myths, the definitions, the disparities and the ways to become more bi-affirmative.

Dr. Mimi’s steadfast leadership has earned her multiple awards, and she’s been named ‘One of the Most Significant Women in the Bisexual Movement.’ She currently works at Loyola Marymount University, LA, and is the creator of the ‘Bi on Life’ self-empowerment series. “People have very different ways to define themselves these days,” says Mimi.

Connect with Dr. Mimi Hoang:
Website | Facebook

Speaker 1:

Welcome to smart sex, smart love. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboos and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. I’m dr Joe Kort. Thanks for tuning in.

Speaker 2:

Hello. Welcome

Speaker 1:

back to everyone who’s been listening and welcome to the new people that have just started listening to my show. My guest this week is the wonderful dr Mimi Huang. Mimi is a nationally recognized psychologist, educator, author and activist specializing in LGBTQ plus and Asian Pacific Islander communities. We’re going to be talking about bisexuality pansexuality, asexuality and sexual fluidity, the myths, the definitions, the disparities and the ways to become more by affirmative. Since the 1990s dr Mimi has cofounded three organizations in Los Angeles for bisexual, pansexual, fluid and other non monosexual individuals authored multiple publications and earned a seat at the landmark 2013 white house bisexual community round table. Dr Mimi’s steadfast leadership has earned her multiple awards and she’s been named one of the most significant women in the bisexual movement. She currently works at Loyola Marymount university in Los Angeles and is the creator of buy on life self-empowerment series. Welcome Mimi.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much Joe.

Speaker 1:

It’s so good to have you here and clarify all these terms. People, therapist and non therapist alike are all, you know, sort of feeling confused and want to say the right things. And the first word I always like to ask you to say, cause it’s not as popular, is what does being monosexual mean.

Speaker 3:

So monosexual is basically having attraction to one gender only, uh, such as being hetero heterosexual, right? You’re attracted only to people the other gender or being gay, which you’re attracted to only people the same gender. So non monosexual then would be anyone that’s not included in that, um, which is all the folks in the bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer spectrum. Um, but so that’s, you know, we were sort of came up with that term just to really shift that paradigm that there could be monosexual or non monosexual attraction.

Speaker 1:

Got it. That’s really helpful, uh, for people to hear. Because P the default in our culture of course, is everyone’s monosexual unless you come out right. And when people say [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

I know people say, why do you have to come out? Because everyone assumes I’m monosexual and I’m not, you know, or whatever. What would you say the differences, cause most people have this definition problem too, between bisexual and pansexual.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So I think, you know, we’re hearing more and more folks, I’m using the pansexual term and um, there is a slight bit of a difference, although there are lot of similarities but so bisexual, um, and the definition that I like to use is from Robin Oaks who’s a very well known, uh, by activist speaker and author. Uh, she’s what I would call our by Oprah. She’s very well known and loved in our community, but so how she phrases it is bisexual is the potential to be attracted sexually and or romantically to people have more than one sex or gender. So sex meaning the biological sex that was assigned to you at birth, usually by a medical professional, um, and gender meaning gender identity. Um, so not necessarily at the same time for these attractions, not necessarily in the same way and also not necessarily to the same degree. So that’s, that’s the definition that our community is really rallying behind. Um, it really is inclusive of all the different ways that you could be bisexual. So that’s the bisexual.

Speaker 1:

All right, now do pants section and then pansexual.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So pansexual, there’s a slight difference, which is that it’s attraction to all sexes and genders. Okay. So bisexual was attraction to more than one. And pan is attraction to all. So there is that slight bit of difference. Um, pan really intentionally, uh, you know, in the definition makes it known that, uh, you know, there’s a gender spectrum, um, and that that person is attracted to all. Um, now there’s also another way that I’ve heard, uh, pansexual being used, which is attraction regardless of sex or gender, the meaning that the person is attracted to some other kind of trait, uh, outside of that gender kind of category. Uh, so for example, you know, they could be attracted to artistic people or a comic book lovers, for example.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible].

Speaker 3:

So that’s what they’re attracted to and it’s not really that gender criteria.

Speaker 1:

Wow. That last part’s new for me and that makes so much sense. I hope that I, it really does, but let me, I can just see people saying, wait, now what’s the difference if it’s bisexual is multiple gender or more than one gender and pansexual is all gender? What’s the difference?

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, I think because bisexual is really a term that came up, um, you know, first, um, because it was hetero homo and then by, um, and so there is a sense of like there’s more than one, you know, there’s a numeric kind of connotation to the word bisexual. Um, and we used to use it as attraction to men and women. Um, but I think as our understanding of the gender spectrum has expanded, um, so has this definition of bisexual. Um, now another way to, just to confuse you a little bit more, Joe, is that for some folks to kind of use the BI, they would say that you’re attracted to the same gender as yourself and attracted to other genders.

Speaker 1:

Okay. That’s another way to define it.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

okay. And I like it cause it’s expanding. It’s not just, it’s not static anymore. People are, are allowing, are allowed and allowing themselves to really reflect on all of their sexual attractions, not just being, well, you know, we only teach children to explore a heterosexuality and being cisgender and that’s it. Everything else is unexamined.

Speaker 3:

Exactly. Yeah. We live in a very heteronormative and very cisgender culture. Um, and so yeah, definitely, you know, people grow up. Um, you know, I grew up in the eighties and nineties, and you know, that just was not really ever talked about. And so a lot of us, you know, grew up in that kind of culture where we just weren’t even given that option or that idea. Um, and so it’s assumed, it’s assumed that you’re just going to, you know, be attracted to the other gender, uh, get married, you know, have kids, you know, that kind of a thing. You know, nowadays I think that society is a lot more open, um, to really including all different types of attraction.

Speaker 1:

I’m still, um, I’m still settling into what you said before. I got to say this. So like you said, that pansexual can also be it. I’m attracted to somebody with a certain trait and this is going to give away my age and generation, but I don’t care. So I am a huge Diana Ross lover and I love to go to her concerts and I go to as many as I can. And there’s a whole fan club of people that love Diana Ross and they go to even more concerts sometimes there are multiple nights. And when I get together with them, most of them are not my type, but I find myself attracted to them and possibly even could be sexual with them because we all have Diana Ross love in the air. And when we’re all together and I feel like I’ve walked away going, what the hell is wrong with me? Like I don’t, these are not even people that I’m attracted to, but I am. And we’re altogether. Would that be a bit of pansexuality?

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, I, that’s going to be up to you. Um, you know, a lot of this is very, very subjective, right? You know, maybe what you’re experiencing could be sort of an emotional attraction or an intellectual attraction. You know, maybe there’s some kind of chemistry that you have and um, you know, another model that I like to use is the Fritz Klein sexual orientation model that he came up with in the 80s. I mean, you’ve probably heard of the Kinsey scale, right? Um, but the Kinsey scale really was only looking at behavior, right? Who people were having sex with, um, and what they were doing in the bedroom. But Fritz Klein, who was a psychiatrist, um, and wrote books and was also a community activist and it was bisexual himself. Um, he passed away several years ago. Um, but he came up with this multidimensional model of looking at sexual orientation for him.

Speaker 3:

It really wasn’t just who you were having sex with, but it was who you were attracted to, who you are, fantasizing about what you were doing sexually in the bedroom. And, um, also who you’re hanging out with socially. Um, do you hang out with men or women or both? Do you hang out with gay or straight people or both? Um, and also what do you call yourself in terms of your identity label? So his way of looking at things was very progressive at the time. Um, and I still use that model in many ways in my clinical work. And just in talking about sexuality is that it has many, many dimensions, um, that, you know, we just take for granted and we don’t realize is a part of our sexuality.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I appreciate what you said to me too, because people these days, you know, you’re telling us these terms, but then that may not be the way they define the term. So I’m always teaching therapists, you have to ask your clients, even if they tell you they’re lesbian, what does lesbian mean to you? Because lesbian doesn’t tell you anything about their sexual history or their current sexual behavior. And they may have a whole different way of looking at that. So I appreciate what you’re saying. Yes,

Speaker 3:

absolutely. You know, people, if you just grabbed like 10 different people who call themselves bisexual, they might have very, very different ways that they define them themselves.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Or

Speaker 3:

pansexual. So, and then we also have fluid, um, and we have queer. Um, and so, you know, fluid, uh, which what I really like about fluid is that it’s a very inclusive term. Um, and more of us on the West coast use it. Uh, but it really kind of gets away from that by, uh, prefix, which I think trips up a lot of people. I think it makes people always think that we have to be 50, 50, you know, we have to be as attracted to one gender as we are with the other gender. And that’s not always the case. So fluid, you know, really is just more encapsulating and it allows for a little bit of flux over time, you know, because sometimes, you know, someone might be a little bit more boy crazy or they might be a little bit more girl crazy.

Speaker 3:

Um, you know, who is ever really static. So with fluid, um, you know, I really liked that and that’s one of the organizations that I started here. Um, when I first started in my bio activism, um, as a college student was I started up fluid at UCLA, which was the student group. So we really liked that term. Um, and then the queer label, which is something that you’ve probably heard, but there’s so many definitions within queer in and of itself, right? Because it’s oftentimes used as the umbrella term for the LGBT community. Um, but some people use it as an individual sexual identity, um, because for them, you know, their own gender identity may not be male or female or SIS. Um, and so therefore their sexual orientation then doesn’t really fit in that box either. And so they may be gender queer as well as sexually queer. Um, and I have also just recently heard, um, another way that queer was used, which is that it’s attraction that is person specific. So yeah, it’s like, Oh, well I, you know, met this person named Jane and I’m just head over heels for Jane. Um, there’s something about her or I met this person named John and I’m really into John. So their attraction isn’t about gender, it isn’t about some kind of trait. It’s about the person.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Now what do you think about the argument or the, there’s kind of tension between people who are bisexual and people who are sexually fluid? I’ve read online, they’re not really fluid there by that. That can’t be true. And people who are fluid, you know, have you seen that online and heard those arguments?

Speaker 3:

I haven’t heard that so much. No.

Speaker 1:

Here. I think maybe in the Midwest you hear it a lot. You know, there’s a lot of infighting about what, how you’re defining and it’s like a by eraser. Maybe you could talk about what people experiences by eraser.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean unfortunately I think there are a lot of, um, sort of identity politics and how people are using different terms. And I think sometimes too, uh, even celebrities, you know, uh, will use different terms and you know, I don’t know if it’s because they’re really coming from a place of knowledge about the history of the community or because they sort of heard one definition from somewhere. Um, and so, you know, all of a sudden people are gravitating or changing their labels. Um, and so I think, I think sometimes those who do use the bisexual label feel, um, like we get sort of spat on. Um, because there’s just so much stigma. There’s still a lot of stigma about being bisexual or being non monosexual period. Um, and for some reason it’s all kind of getting lumped onto the word bisexual. And so some people, because they have that internalized by phobia, um, they then try to use other labels.

Speaker 3:

Um, but I really believe in reclaiming by, um, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. And so, you know, a lot of the activists who’ve been out there doing this work for decades have really tried to reclaim by, um, to make it seem really, you know, it’s normal and it’s okay and it’s not what you think, you know, that it means that you’re promiscuous or you know, unfaithful or that kind of a thing or confused. Um, but I think oftentimes that’s what’s happening between the different sub communities is that, uh, you know, certain labels just have a little bit more stigma attached to them.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] they did a really good will and grace episode the other night where, um, and they, I thought it was good portrayal of bi-phobia so many gay men do not believe in bisexuality, at least what I see. And so will and will and grace, uh, her niece comes in and, uh, she’s with what seems to be a very flamboyant gay man, but he’s not, he’s bisexual and will, doesn’t, uh, doesn’t believe it. So there’s a lot of that too. Do you see that as well?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. You know, we experience both, you know, prejudice from the street community but also from the gay community. Um, and it’s been a long time sort of issue or struggle, um, that BI folks feel accepted, um, into the gay and lesbian community. Uh, which is just really unfortunate. Um, because we are, we’re looking for community, we’re looking for sisterhood and brotherhood and that kind of kinship. But a lot of times there is this skepticism. Um, I know I’ve experienced it from the lesbian community and I know, um, many, many other BI plus folks. Um, and I’m using [inaudible] as a umbrella term and throwing a lot of terms out there at should Joe.

Speaker 1:

That’s good.

Speaker 3:

But yeah, so by plus, um, a lot of folks, uh, you know, we get kind of this lack of knowledge or ignorance, um, from the straight community as well as, you know, a lot of stereotypes thrown at us. But from the gain lesbian community, oftentimes it’s, it’s this like dismissiveness, um, or this sense of sort of testing. I’m like, are you really one of us? Or, or I think for a lot of BI men, um, experienced a lot of doubts from gay men. Um, in the sense that there’s an assumption that you can’t be BI, you have to be straight or, or gay, you know, you have to be one or the other. Uh, which is just really unfortunate. Um, you know, why can’t, why can’t men be by, you know, I’ve met just so many, um, who’ve been by all their lives, you know, men in their sixties, seventies who’ve had long time relationships with men and women. Um, but for some reason by men really, really get, um, just so much of that kind of mocking. Um, you know, I’ve, I’ve heard about it on different TV shows, even the younger generation. Um, and so that’s something that I think is, is very, uh, specific to what by men, um, experienced.

Speaker 1:

What would you say? Some people get confused between being bisexual and polyamorous. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that confusion, but I wonder if you could define the, you know, this distinguish the two.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. Polyamory is really about how many relationships you want to have at the same time, right? It’s about your relationship style. So, and that’s the opposite of monogamy, which is dating one person or being with one person at the, at one time. Um, and polyamory is being ethical about it, so we’re not including like cheating and that kinda thing. Um, but so oftentimes people assume that because you’re BI, that means that you have to be dating more than one gender all the time. Um, and that’s not the case. You know, there are many, many monogamous by plus folks, uh, myself included. And there are many polyamorous by plus folks. Um, it really isn’t something that is specific to us, but I usually talk about it just because people just conflate the two. I think people get kind of tripped up on again, the number two, you know, um, so Jay thank you know you have to walk arm in arm, like one arm has a man, one arm has a woman. Um, but you know, you may meet somebody at any given time and maybe they’re, you know, they have a male partner or they have a female partner. Um, and that still makes them, you know, buy plus. So, and polyamory, I mean, as you probably know, is not specific to the bypass community. There are straight folks and gay folks and lesbians who date more than one partner at the same time, you know, in an ethical and above board way. So, uh, but yeah, I think, uh, oftentimes people just confuse the two.

Speaker 1:

And what about the confusion sometimes between being asexual gray, sexual demisexual? Could you speak to that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so you know, that’s really about your level of sexual desire for other people. And um, you know, I think there’s a lot more visibility, a lot more awareness around asexuality and gray sexuality. Uh, and so I think that’s also great as well because again, we assume that everybody has the sexual attractions and desires in the, like at the, in the same way. And some people really don’t have sexual desire, um, or some people have to that romantic chemistry and connection first and then they feel that sexual desire, which would be in that Demi sexual, gray, sexual kind of arena. Um, and you know, the reason I bring this up when I talk about buying pansexuality is because some people may not really discover their bisexuality until they get that romantic and emotional connection. So sometimes like I, you know, worked with different college students, that’s, you know, where I am, um, Monday through Friday.

Speaker 3:

And so, you know, these are young adults and they’re just figuring themselves out, sometimes dating and having serious relationships for the first time. And some of them, because they didn’t really, maybe had an opportunity to really fall in love with a same sex person. Um, and so then they don’t really discover their bisexuality until that happens. Um, and so that’s where I think Demi’s sexuality and grace sexuality may just add a different layer to a person, you know, discovering who they are. Whereas for those people who are Allo sexual, meaning that you can experience sexual desire for, you know, people you just met or you know, celebrities and having those types of sexual or erotic feelings maybe for Allo sexual people you may discover who you are a lot earlier in life. Um, because you know, that type of attraction is just more readily accessible.

Speaker 1:

And allosexual is a L L O S E X. U. A L, right?

Speaker 3:

Yup.

Speaker 1:

What I loved about the show, we have to wrap up, but what I love is that you’re, you’re doing this work, bisexual plus people exist and bisexuality is not pathological and it is not unhealthy and it’s so important cause we’re still a binary world where it’s gay or straight and more and more of these podcasts and shows in your teachings and books and everything should be out there. Mimi, where can people find you online

Speaker 3:

so people can find me at dr Mimi Huang. Dot com. That’s all one word. The R, M I, M, I, H, O, a, N,G , and I’m, I’m on Facebook and Instagram. And you can also find, uh, about my buy on life series, which is something that I created two years ago because I just really wanted to help by plus folks feel confident and proud and go out there and have healthy relationships. You have positive self esteem, um, and be out. Um, and really, you know, to be by on life because we all deserve it. So take a look at my website and you can find out more information.

Speaker 1:

Thank you dr Mimi for being on the show and for all of you listening, thanks for being a part of this episode and I’m dr Joe Kort and you can find me on Joe kort.com that’s J O E K O R t.com. And please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and I’ll see you next time. Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex smart love. I’m dr Joel court and you can find me on Joe kort.com that’s J O E K O R. t.com see you next time.

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