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Does It Matter That Oregon's New Governor Is Bisexual?

Kate Brown becomes the first bisexual governor in a nation that has widely accepted gay marriage but not bisexuality.
Photograph: Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon resigned, and the Oregon secretary of state Kate Brown, also a Democrat, became the state governor. In an instant, Oregon had the first openly bisexual governor in American history.

For many of Gov. Brown’s constituents, this may mean little, because she is married to a man, and has been for many years. The adjective becomes easy to explain away, then; bisexuality is often dismissed as something made up, a risqué adolescent antic, something college girls do to impress boys. Last January, Lisa Diamond, a scholar of sexual orientation, told the reporter Michael Schulman that many people feel bisexuality “is a transitional stage or a form of being in the closet,” but that in fact it’s more common than strictly same-sex attraction.