There was a time, and it does not seem all that long ago, when I could not have named a single out high profile Bisexual. And now they are legion with the most recent being Ryan Russell, a NFL free agent. I don’t pretend to know much about American football but I do know that having a sports figure come out as Bi is probably a very big deal to many sports loving bisexuals especially Bi+ men/masc. I will just name a few of the folks who come to mind as out and proud Bisexuals as we should always make sure to give them a high profile: Alan Cumming, Stephanie Beatriz, Angelina Jolie, Halsey, Bella Thorne, Cynthia Nixon, Billie Joe Armstrong, Drew Barrymore, Janelle Monae, Gillian Anderson and so many more.
The fact that out bisexual celebrities is a long list which I don’t have the space to mention is incredibly meaningful. When I was young the only out bisexual I knew of was David Bowie and it meant a lot that he was unashamed, unapologetic and used the actual word. I knew who I was and seeing even one person be open about their bisexuality made a major difference in my life.
So, here we are in the 21st century, many folks have come out as Bi+, young people are identifying as Queer in droves and yet there is still a massive stigma and many misconceptions and myths about Bisexuals.
Only 28% of Bisexuals come out. This is in comparison with about 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians. You might ask yourself why this is the case. Well, in a word, Biphobia.
I have literally had folks tell me they don’t want to come out because it is more comfortable for them to remain closeted than deal with the stigma of being the greedy, creepy Bi person. This is internalized biphobia at its most damaging.
Bisexuality is still sometimes seen as taboo. Heteronormative society can understand a gay man or lesbian who is attracted to folks of their own gender but those of us with more expansive tastes are more difficult for het society to swallow. ; )
Of course, there is the fear of sharing your true self and not being believed. That has happened to me a lot and it never gets easier to disabuse people of the notion I am straight due to the gender of my long term partner. There is nothing more belittling and demeaning than to share your truth and have someone tell you that you’re wrong or that you don’t know yourself. (my response has always been ‘why thank you for knowing me better than I know myself! and feel free to use it. Saying that usually, at least, makes folks think a little deeper about their assumptions….)
There are some who refuse to believe bisexuality exists. That is a tough one. We are not truly invisible, that is a super power most of us have not achieved at this point, but it can make it extremely difficult to share your truth. Het society needs to wrap their collective mind around the fact that we don’t have to and never will ‘choose’ a gender. As Bisexuals we cannot do that….no matter who our partners are we will always have the potential to be multi gender attracted.
And some folks just think living their lives as happy, healthy bisexual people…sometimes dating a woman/femme, sometimes dating a man/masc and sometimes dating a genderqueer person should speak for itself. In a perfect world, I would totally agree. I look forward to a time when a queer person’s attractions are treated equally as another person’s heterosexual attractions. We are not there yet and that is why I strongly advocate for visibility. Yes, it might take you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the only way to grow is to be uncomfortable on occasion.
And know that as we become more visible as a community there will be more and more safe places and spaces for Bi+ humans. We do need to push the envelope and make our presence known. It is the only way to change attitudes and behaviors.
For now, if you cannot come busting out of the closet consider telling a person you trust. Take things one step at a time. Even if you tell one person and are authentic with one person it can start a gradual process of feeling more comfortable walking in the world as your beautiful Bi+ self.
(Cautionary note: If you don’t feel safe being out in any situation do not do it. I don’t want anyone harmed for being themselves. )