Larry King gets confused by Anna Paquin’s “non-practicing” bisexuality

I know from bisexual friends that people who are bi often get a bad rap.

I’ve personally never understood the problem — some people are gay, some are straight, some are in between, so why can’t someone be exactly in between?

Nonetheless, the existence of bisexuality sows confusion among gays and straights alike.

Our own Becca Morn has written about the conundrum that is bisexuality:

Everybody assumes that either I’m actually a lesbian, or that I’m constantly jonesing to be with a man.

I’m not.

Unless that man is George Clooney, in which case all bets are off. (It’s written into our pre-nup.)

My wife’s lesbian friends warned her I couldn’t be trusted, that I’d leave her. They employed all the anti-bi stereotypes, including the notion there’s no such thing as an actual bisexual – rather, we’re simply people who like to experiment.

Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin at the HBO's "True Blood" Season 7 Premiere Screening at the TCL Chinese Theater on June 17, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA. Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Stephen Moyer and wife Anna Paquin at the HBO’s “True Blood” Season 7 Premiere Screening at the TCL Chinese Theater on June 17, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA. Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

And as I’ve said before, I know very few gay people who believe bisexuality even exists. When I bring up the topic, people usually roll their eyes, scoff, or make some comment suggesting bisexuals are confused, or lying, or something.

(And while some people who claim to be bi probably are gay, and simply using the bi label as a gateway-moniker before they’re fully comfortable admitting that they’re “gay.” But everyone? Doubtful.)

Well, “True Blood” star Anna Paquin (aka Sookie Stackhouse) was on Larry King’s show on the Russian state propaganda network the other day, and King asked her about being bisexual. It appears King was confused as to how Paquin could be bisexual, yet married to her male costar Stephen Moyer.

Larry King: Are you a non-practicing bisexual?
Anna Paquin: Well, I am married to my husband and we are happily monogamously married.
Larry King: So you were bisexual?
Anna Paquin: Well, I don’t think it’s a past-tense kind of thing. It doesn’t prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn’t really work like that.

So many levels of wrong. One does not “practice” one’s sexual orientation, any more than than straight people are “practicing heterosexuals.” As for the confusion over Paquin marrying a man, well, yes, bisexuals like both men and women, so it’s entirely feasible for them to end up with, you know, a man OR a woman.

I don’t really fault King, here. He’s an admittedly older guy who’s not up on the lingo or the substance.  I’d have liked for Paquin to see this as an opportunity to explain what bisexuality — what sexual orientation is — and educate both King and an audience that might be just as confused as he was.

As I’ve argued before, if people aren’t filled with malice, and if they’re legitimately asking you a question and simply get the question (or the premise) wrong, don’t rip their heads off. Educate them. And for those who say “it’s not my job to educate them,” to the degree that you want things to ever change, it’s your only job.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Silver_Witch

    I think it would still be shocking to many.

  • Neroon

    Imagine if that episode were done today instead of the 80’s…

  • Lantor

    I wonder if Stephen Moyer is bisexual. I still think Billlllll is dreamy!

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  • caphillprof

    you don’t need to declare to explore

    it muddies the water

  • caphillprof

    half seems to be a lot

  • Denver Catboy

    This applies to heterosexuals as well. I’m married to a wonderful wife, and have no desire to leave her. However, I still notice other women. My wife, who is bisexual, still notices other men and women. King needs to apply his own experiences to the picture — “Hey, I see a fine young girl walking down the street, and I appreciate the view, but at the same time, I’m still married to my wife….same thing for a bisexual, just means that not only does he or she notice women, but men as well.

  • Don Chandler

    “The Russian government’s English language news channel RT said Wednesday it has signed a deal with Mr. King to begin airing his on-line talk show, “Larry King Now” on the broadcaster’s U.S. arm, RT America, starting in June. The channel will also carry a new program called “Politics with Larry King.”

    “We are thrilled to work with Larry King, who is a true media legend,” RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said in a statement. “Whether a president or an activist or a rock star was sitting across from him, Larry King never shied away from asking the tough questions, which makes him a terrific fit for our network.””

    Larry King: So you were bisexual?

  • Silver_Witch

    I am a mature bisexual (nearly 60) and I speak for myself. Most just scoff because I am married to a man…..they think it was a phase and I outgrew it…in actuality I just fell in love with his beautiful mind….when I see the world though I am just as likely to fawn over a woman as a man….

  • Silver_Witch

    I am a woman who sleeps with those she falls in love with…regardless of what parts they may have between their legs. I so wept when StarTrek the Next Generation’s Counselor didn’t understand that the person she loved had been a man, but was transferred into a woman and still loved her and wanted to continue the relationship and she was MORTIFIED and rejected her.

    I have experience that negativity of being a “gay” woman who has slept with men, breed with a man…one woman loved me anyway – although her friends insisted I was not invited to their functions. It was sad…..but ahhh the men and women I have loved!!!! It has been grand…..Slut that I am of course .

  • JDH

    Nobody needs to be PAID to enjoy the American pastime of Russia bashing.

  • nicho

    Russian state propaganda network

    That is so cute. Why don’t you refer to any of our cable chatter channels as the US state propaganda networks, which is what they are. Unless if course, you’re being paid per word for Russia bashing, which it certainly seems like.

  • HermeticallySealed

    I have to say, my 25 years of experience in the gay community has yielded quite the opposite results. I have known very few gay people who don’t believe in bi-sexuality. Perhaps hang out with a better class of people?

  • goulo

    Yep. If someone who’d previously dated, e.g., black people and white people at various times in the past was now married to a white person, would Larry King ask them “So are you no longer attracted to black people?”

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’ll give you one word to explain King’s whole point of confusion: “Lifestyle.”

    There are many, many homophobes out there who think that if a person with intense and exclusive same-sex attraction forces themselves to marry an opposite sex person, settles down into monogamy and perhaps pops out a few kids, they’re suddenly no longer “gay.” Hence why they constantly refer to being gay as a lifestyle that can be eschewed forever if there’s sufficient will to do so.

    Honestly, you gay folks out there, ask yourselves: What would be your judgment if, let’s say Larry King invited our proprietor, John Aravosis, on his show. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that John was known at the time not to be in a relationship. And Larry were to pose the question, “So does this mean you’re a non-practicing gay? That you were gay but you’re not now?”

    There are also lots of folks who think you suddenly stop being Bi if you settle down with someone of a particular gender. Or happen to date and/or sleep with several in a row of the same gender.

    That’s not how it works. A celibate gay person is still gay. A gay person who marries and makes themselves have sex with someone of the opposite gender despite feeling no sexual attraction (or possibly even physical revulsion) towards their partner is still gay.

    An actual honest-to-goodness bisexual person who is celibate is still Bi. If they marry — whatever the gender of the person they marry — they’re still Bi. It’s not who you happen to be with, it’s whether or not you experience sexual attraction to people of both genders. And as just about any married person will tell you, just because they’re faithful doesn’t mean their eyes stop working…

    If sexual attraction is to one gender pretty much exclusively, you’re gay or straight, depending. If it’s mostly one gender but not entirely, you have some Bi leanings. If it’s roughly equal, you’re Bi. Hence the Kinsey scale.

    Those who believe settling down with someone regardless of attraction makes you gay or straight and somehow cancels out the whole notion of sexual attraction…well, that means they buy into the whole ‘lifestyle’ argument, albeit in a particular context that is disrespectful to those who won’t adhere to rigid social/sexual dichotomies.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time to queue up my blu-ray of Gravity because I find both George Clooney and Sandra Bullock very attractive. And my wife knows and is cool with this because she knows I’m madly in love with her and no other.

    (Well that, and despite the totally bogus orbital mechanics, ‘Gravity’ is also a great movie, IMHO.)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I like to think I do speak for myself. Or don’t you consider me mature?

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    I can’t for the life of me find the link again, but I read a study about a week ago that found that nearly an equal number of people who identify as bisexual early in their self-understanding retain their bisexual identity later in life, as end up later changing to identify as gay or straight. So not as many people are ‘experimenting’ with such an identity as people seem to think.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Seems to me that it has little to do with King’s age, and speaks more to his complete lack of any understanding about what a healthy, monogamous relationship is.

  • Jimmy

    “When I bring up the topic, people usually roll their eyes, scoff, or
    make some comment suggesting bisexuals are confused, or lying, or
    something.”

    And they don’t see how those very opinions have been applied to gays and lesbians for … well, forever.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Why do we care if teenagers and 20 somethings declare themselves bi? Why is that an issue? They’re figuring it out. I don’t see anything wrong with exploration…

  • caphillprof

    It would be nice if mature bisexuals would speak for themselves.

    It would also be nice if teenagers and 20 somethings didn’t prematurely declare themselves bisexual before actually discovering their sexuality.

    And it would be nicest if sexuality didn’t matter, but after thousands of years of sexual repression, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • keirmeister

    I think Prince Oberyn said it best:

    Olyver: “Everyone has a preference.”

    Oberyn: “Then everyone is missing half the world’s pleasure. The Gods made that, and it delights me. The Gods made this…and it delights me. When it comes to war I fight for Dorne, when it comes to love…I don’t choose sides.”

    Of course, I always end of thinking about that game show in “Jeffrey”:

    http://youtu.be/VX2M2TZrStU

  • Indigo

    Q. What two expressions cannot be used coherently in a declarative, positive sentence?
    A. 1) Larry King. 2) Awareness of sexuality issues.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    It’s not a hard concept to understand. When you’re married to a man or a woman and if you’re just attracted to that gender, you still have attractions to other people of the gender you’re attracted to. So if you’re bisexual it would work the same way – you’re just attracted to both genders outside of the monogamous relationship you’re in.

    I find the concept of long-term monogamy more odd. But no one ever talks about that.

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