I want to state loud and proud that being Bi is a magical and I am very happy to be Bi. That said, despite the fact that there are far more Bis under the LGBT umbrella than any other sexual orientation, we are often overlooked and undervalued. That is simply not ok and something we all have to work to change every day and in every way. : )
Unfortunately, Bisexuals experience very high rates of discrimination and demonization by both the gay and straight communities. Despite the fact that Bis comprise the largest percentage of individuals within the LGBT community they are often invalidated and rendered invisible. This has remained the same since I was young in the late 70’s. In addition, many Bis, myself included, have spent years advocating for LGBT rights and yet are not accepted by gay men and lesbians as equal members of the community.
Why does this discrimination continue to happen, considering that Bis are the Queer Majority ? And, more importantly, what can we do about it?
One of the major problems we continue to face is the ‘invisibility’ of the Bi community. Far fewer Bis are out of the closet than gay men and lesbians (as referenced in an earlier post only about 28% of Bis are out) and this promotes the idea there are fewer of us than is actually the case. In fact, 52% of the LGB community are Bi.
Assumptions and erasure contribute to this misapprehension. I have been married to a man for 32 years and people often assume I am straight. I do everything I can to disabuse them of this notion by practicing radical visibility but this only works when I have the opportunity to come out. In the past, when I was in romantic/sexual relationships with women the assumption was that I was a lesbian. Our relationships do not, in any way, influence our innate sexuality. We are not half straight/half gay but, rather, 100% Bi.
In order to come out as Bi I have to strike up a conversation about my bisexuality or somehow outwardly identify myself as Bi. Despite the fact that I love to talk and that I own more than a few Bi t-shirts I know that there are many instances when my husband and I are mis-identified as heterosexual. Note: it is probably past time to get me some Bi ‘ink’ and that is on the drawing board… 😉
Many Bis in relationships with those of the same gender are often mis-labeled as gay men or lesbians. The stigma of coming out as Bi often leads them to remain in the closet. They fear not being accepted if they are themselves.
The misapprehension is that Bis are identified by the relationship they are in instead of understanding that our sexuality is stable and not defined by whom we partner with. This has always seemed to be a very difficult concept for straights and gays to grasp. While Bis are often fluid in their sexual attractions (and I will discuss that fluidity in another post) and that can change over time the one constant is that Bis retain the potential to be attracted to more than one gender.
The first step to taking our rightful place as full members of our own community is to connect with other Bis. Social media is helpful as it can forge a connection and share information about resources and support that is available even if the individuals are not close geographically. Local organizations (and specifically Bi groups are few and far between and primarily located in larger cities) have to be created to allow Bis to connect/organize/socialize and create a higher profile so that our concerns are taken into account and validated by the larger LGBT community. Forging alliances with trans activists, another sometimes marginalized group within the LGBT culture, can help to provide a bit more traction for the concerns of Bi and Trans advocates/activists.
Here are a few organizations to help start a journey to acceptance and connection. We all need a sense of community to accept ourselves, enjoy our Bi lives, and to advocate for ourselves and others.