Bi Activism Matters!

Today is Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday celebration. I always take some time on this day to reflect upon whether or not I am doing enough for my fellow humans. For the past few years,  my focus has been on my Bi+ family. I had started out in Gay Liberation back in the 70’s and there were definitely other Bisexuals involved but they were not always loud and proud about their bisexuality.

It is important to acknowledge that Bisexual people have always been involved in the struggle for LGBTQ rights. There are some very notable folks in that history and I have written about them before. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, were Bi+ trans women who were involved in the Stonewall Riot. Brenda Howard is known as the Mother of Pride for organizing the Christopher Street Gay Liberation celebration in June 1970. Stephen Donaldson, a Bi activist, organized the first Gay student organization called the Student Homophile League in the mid sixties. Bisexuals have never failed to support the struggle. Glaad has a wonderful synopsis of Bi activism over the decades and I recommend you read it. It is important to educate yourself on the contributions of Bi+ folks to the LGBTQ liberation movement as they are, far too often, erased.

We have a brand new year ahead of us. Another opportunity to express our sexuality as best suits us and to expand our universe by being bi-visible. There is always some way that you can shout your sexuality. They can be small ways such as wearing a Bi clothing or bling. There can be bigger ways such as organizing the Bi community locally. There are very personal ways such as coming out to one trusted person.

The main thing, and I am saying this for my own benefit as well as yours, is to do something. Large or small, loud or quiet….and if, nothing else, just be your Bi self. And, if over the next year, you feel the need to rest a bit, that is just fine. Take it all one day at a time. Be kind to yourself. It can be kind of tough to be Bi sometimes. We are not given our due respect. We are not seen even when we are shouting our existence. We seem to always be asked to explain ourselves. Even though who we are is not at all complex…we are people who can see and respond to the beauty of all people. It should not be that hard to understand but inexplicably it still causes confusion for non-Bi people.

If you can do it join a local organization for support and comradery. Make sure to follow some Bi+ sites and pages on social media. This all seems a little rambling to me but the main thing is to acknowledge within yourself who you are. If you are attracted to people of more than one gender you are non-monosexual. If you are non-monosexual you are a member of the Bi+ community. That acknowledgement alone is absolutely huge and monumental and important. So, at the very least, commit to be yourself and to not deny who you are. And, if you do that, activism and organization and community will follow!

Adding the link to the Glaad site for the brief but interesting Bi+ history lesson:

 

https://www.glaad.org/blog/us-bisexual-movement-biweek-history-lesson

 

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Bi-Intentions

The New Year is always a good time for reflection. Every one of us can benefit from taking time to think about what we have done, where we have been and where we are going. This past year has had some wonderful highs and some unfortunate lows. I always prefer to dwell upon the positive.

Being Bi is the aspect of my life which has brought me incredible joy but caused some challenges over the decades. I prefer to dwell upon the positive while not pretending the negative does not happen or does not affect me. I do have some plans/intentions for the New Year which I will share. If they are helpful to anyone else that would bring me great joy.

I intend to continue to be unapologetically Bi and Queer. This is not a change so much as a continuation of what I have been doing to varying degrees over the years. I will admit to some unintentional erasure which I have done to myself but those days are long over. Confidence in the way you present yourself really matters….or at least that has been my experience. While I find most people endlessly interesting I don’t need their permission to be who I am. If they affirm me that is delightful but I don’t need their affirmation to be myself. I have found the more confident and vocal I have become in my Queerness the more I garner respect from others, both queer and straight. It is interesting how rarely folks will challenge you if you look them right in the eye and own who you are.

I intend to do much more for my beautiful Bi+ community. This past year has seen tremendous growth for our local Bi+ Pride Milwaukee group. We were recognized at Milwaukee’s PrideFest by receiving a Pride award for our organization. It was a joyous moment for all of us. I was so honored to accept the award on behalf of  BPM and took the opportunity to comment on how the B has never been silent and has been an integral part of the fight for LGBTQ rights.  Sadly, we have continued to be met with biphobia and bierasure, very often from our own LGBTQ siblings. This is tremendously wrong and dispiriting. Our best response is to continue to affirm and support everyone who identifies as non-monosexual, no matter which label resonates with them. See prior comment about confidence….if we acknowledge our own magic for ourselves and each other we will demand respect. We are right to do so.

My plan is to find ways to grow our local organization and connect, at least regionally, with other Bi groups. I have started that outreach but there is much more to be done. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, or in this case, one email. ; )

On a more practical level I want to do more writing for and about our Bi+ community to counter much of the misinformation I see, far too often, in periodicals focused on the LGBTQ community. It is well past time for folks to say ‘oh it is hard and I don’t really understand bisexuality but I guess they are ok’ and move on to let’s celebrate the beautiful Bi+ community in all of their glory and let’s realistically look at the challenges we face, the research which needs to be done, the funding which needs to be given, and how to uplift the Bi+ community. I also hope to get a podcast in place to celebrate the amazing and joyful diversity of non-monosexuals.

I have quite a few other projects both for the Bi+ community, the Queer community and others that I want to pursue. More on that as the year unfolds. I want to walk more than I talk because the talk will take care of itself once my projects have come to fruition.

On a personal level I have a lot of growth I would like to see in myself as I take the first step and many more into the next decade. I want to rest when I am tired and take the time to return refreshed to the many issues of importance to me. I want to enjoy my family and friends without the kind of worry and anxiety I often experience. I want to acknowledge and celebrate the beauty which surrounds me. I definitely want to travel much more and try to connect with Bi communities wherever I go. We are all much stronger and more resilient together. I want to be a bit kinder to myself and know I have the ability to support myself as well as others.

I especially want to continue to celebrate, elevate and nourish myself as a Bi non-binary woman and shine my light for others who may have difficulty seeing the beauty in themselves.

All the love from me to you, my friends.

 

 

 

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Being Bi during the Holi-Daze!

I know. I know. Being Queer and being at home for the holidays can be very challenging. As Bisexuals we are often not accorded proper respect and acknowledgement of our sexuality.

We hear the usual claptrap:

**oh, you’re dating a boy/girl now?! So you’ve finally decided you’re straight/gay!

**You really have to stop with this Bisexual ‘thing’. We all know you are just doing it for attention.

**I knew a Bi guy/girl once. They finally admitted they were just gay. When are you going to do that?

**Hey, (always said in a hushed whisper) do you have a lot of threesomes?

**I don’t really think anyone is really Bisexual or I think everyone is Bisexual.

It is really hard to handle all this nonsense along with any other family drama which may take place.

You just want to have a lovely time, connect with family, and not have to explain every single little thing about whom you find attractive and what is going on with your love/sex life. Is it really too much to ask? I am here to tell you it is not. You have every right to be yourself and enjoy yourself.

So, I have a suggestion. It may be difficult but set boundaries. Bisexual people have no more responsibility to explain their sexuality than anyone else. No one questions Aunt Agnes as to why she has been married to that asshole Uncle Dudley for all these painful years. No one asks Cousin Sheila why she won’t commit to her boyfriend, Justin and never invites him to family functions. Folks rarely question straight people and their relationships at the holidays and, nowadays, families are much more accepting of their gay/lesbian family members, too. They should accord you the same respect as they do to folks who are not multi-gender attracted and you should expect their respect.

Tell family members to allow you to lead the conversation about who you are dating/if you are dating and indicate if they have crossed a line it is just not okay. If you have supportive family members enlist their help. You don’t have to do this alone if there is someone who will give you a hand.

You are not required to divulge personal data. Sometimes silence is the best option. If someone gets a bit too nosy you could always ask them an uncomfortably personal question just to let them know how it feels.

Remember, you are an amazing, magical bisexual and you don’t need anyone’s permission to be yourself. And, if it gets to be too much you have options. There is no reason you cannot leave a situation which is making you feel uncomfortable. Your peace of mind matters and you do not have to tolerate poor behavior from folks just because they are family.

You matter. You are valid. Even if you are still trying to figure out exactly who you are no one has the right to give you the third degree. Kindness and compassion should be served at every holiday event. Your attendance is not mandatory. Self-care is important.

The most important thing is to make sure you feel healthy and happy. If that means attending an alternative event at a local LGBT center or being with supportive friends then do that. At the end of the day, do what you need to do acknowledge and respect yourself. ❤

 

 

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Coming Out Matters!

Should you come out? Only you have the answer to that question. If you were to ask me I would say it is definitely the best idea to bust out of that closet. It is stifling in there but I don’t want to sugarcoat it. I do know as a Bisexual it is not easy to be out. I also know that for me it has been worth it.
I came out at 17 and while, because I am Bi, that has meant I have had to come out over and over again it has also meant I did not fear someone might find out who I am and who I have always been. I had acknowledged my own truth, said the word Bisexual out loud and felt the warmth of authenticity which speaking that truth brought. Even if my Mother said I would grow out of it. Even if not every single person I passed on the street knew I was Bi. I knew and I had spoken it out loud. Here we are 44 years later and I can guarantee it was not a phase.
; )
Now, to be clear, because I have been married to a cis man for a long while many folks have thought I was straight. (grrrrrr) It has definitely been a struggle over the decades to make sure I made abundantly clear who I was. Guess what? Sometimes people did not believe me. And, I know, there have been times when I have internalized that bierasure and, in my worst moments, I felt internalized biphobia. Was I protesting too much? Did people not believe me when I told them I was Bi because deep down inside I was really not queer enough? Over and over I had to tell myself I was queer enough. There had been no change to my attractions even if my ‘married with children’ life looked heteronormative. I had every right to say who I am without fear and with the expectation of support.
I know there were times I thought my clever comments indicating I was Bi, which to me were totally transparent, were a bit too opaque for anyone else to catch on to. I beat myself up sometimes for not wearing a sandwich board every time I went out saying ‘This person is Bisexual’. Now my radical bi-visibility is impossible to miss. (don’t be disappointed in yourself though….it is not always an easy process so just take it easy on yourself!)
Truly, things have gotten better. There is more Bi representation in media today than there was 44 years ago…when as far as I could tell there was exactly zero amount. More celebrities and well known folx are out, loud and proud. There are more advocacy group specifically supporting concerns of Bisexual people. There is definitely more Bi bling, such as Bi Pride t-shirts and jewelry, which can do your talking for you. I literally dazzle with my pink, purple and blue!
However, we still face many disparities in the Queer community:
-Bisexuals have higher rates of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression than members of the Gay, Lesbian or heterosexual communities
-48% of Bisexuals have been the subject of hurtful jokes at work because of their sexual orientation
-29% of Bisexual youth are harassed at school.
-Bisexuals face an almost equal amount of discrimination from the Gay community as they do from the straight community
-Bisexual teen girls face higher levels of sexual harassment than their straight or lesbian peers
How do we combat this discrimination? I would argue the best way is by speaking our truth, coming out of the closet, finding our community and supporting each other. I say this knowing it may not be safe for everyone to be out. First, love yourself just the way you are. In my view, being Bi is magical. You can see beauty all around you in all types of people and that is an absolute superpower.
If you are reading this and truly do not think there is anyone you can talk to just leave me a comment. I can guarantee I will be in touch and help in any way I can. Even if it is just to listen to you say, ‘I’m Bisexual or ‘I’m Queer’ or ‘I’m Pansexual’. I am a safe place for you. It is usually just one step at a time but trusting one person is the first step.
Being Bi is amazing. Being Bi in community with other Bisexuals is transcendent. Take your time. Be out on your own terms. Just know we are here and waiting to welcome you.
There are resources/organizations for Bi folx and I will include just a few for you to take a look at:
Bisexual Resource Center: http://biresource.org/
Bi+ Pride Milwaukee (this one is close to my heart as I organize it): https://www.bimke.org/
BiNet USA: http://www.binetusa.org/
Ambi.org: http://www.ambi.org/

 

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Rebel! Rebel!

“You’ve got your Mother in a whirl. She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl”

Rebel Rebel was released by David Bowie in 1974 and it really spoke to me as a Baby Bi. At that point I had not really given my gender identity much thought at all but I knew I liked both boys and girls. I also knew it made me a sexual rebel. To quote David, ‘You like me and I like it all”.  Heterosexuals like opposite sex folks. Homosexuals like same sex folks. At that point, I knew I liked both and later came to find out I liked it all. Bowie had not said he was Bi yet…at least, not out loud but I could tell there was an edge to him that did not seem to be straight and maybe seemed a little gay. Was that me? It took more research for me to name my sexuality but I knew  my sexuality was expansive. I knew there were people who would tell me it was wrong but I also knew it felt very right.

Later when I became involved in feminism, Democratic Socialism and LGBT activism I knew my bisexuality truly pushed the boundaries and I wanted to push those boundaries personally, politically, sexually….in every way I could. This was long before intersectionality was a theory/practice but it just felt right to be inclusive in every way possible.

That inclusivity is what can make folks fear bisexuality. It is not uncommon for folks to fear what they don’t know, what they cannot experience themselves. People are afraid of bisexuality they think bi people are really gay or can choose to be either gay or straight, are confused or going through a phase, are promiscuous, or are carriers of sexual diseases. This is absolute mythmaking but, unfortunately because so few Bis are out the myths persist.

One myth is accurate in my view. We ARE rebels. We ARE revolutionaries. We DO live our lives outside of the societal status quo. We envision a present and future where gender conventions and binaries are no longer something which confines us. We know in our hearts that Bisexuals are the queerest of the Queers. We embody queerness with a sexuality and worldview which is beyond strict concepts of gender norms and sexual and emotional behavior. I think some folks might think that without a ‘status quo’ to cling to it might be terrifying.  Bisexuals, if they are honest with themselves, see this chaos as liberating.

Bisexuals are the most diverse group in the LGBTQ universe and, as such, the most intersectional. Our umbrella is large and inclusive. Are there those who use gatekeeping to divide us even within our own community? Yes, that is sadly true, but the community in general, as we become more vocal and visible, is accepting and celebrating and elevating our diversity. Chaos is often a state which leads to increased creativity. I see bisexuality as the catalyst to this exciting, revolutionary, expansive future.

Let’s not try to fit in. We cannot and should not be constrained. We should not allow it. Instead, let’s stand out as loud, proud Bisexuals. Bi Visibility Month comes to an end tomorrow. Fellow Bis, I hope you have made use of this month to either take a baby step to accepting yourself  or to take  the opportunity to proudly exit the closet. It is only by living our best Bi lives that we can be role models for others and proclaim to the world that we are the worthy of acceptance and equality in the LGBTQ universe.

 

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You Matter Today and Every Day!

Happy BiVisibility Day, beautiful Bi+ fam!

I have an idea how you might wish to spend this celebratory day!

Just for Today: Don’t worry about being Queer enough.

Just for Today: Don’t think anyone has the right to judge how you do Bisexuality.

Just for Today: Say Buh-Bye to the Haters.

Just for Today: Don’t think your Bisexuality makes you greedy.

Just for Today: Don’t think that because you are Bisexual you are confused.

Just for Today: Don’t think you cannot be faithful to a person you love.

Just for Today: Don’t think that love means only having one partner.

Just for Today: Know that you can be ethical and have more than one partner.

Just for Today: Pay no mind to the biphobia which seems to be rampant in our society.

Just for Today: Stand up and Stand out as a Proud Bisexual human being.

Just for Today: Don’t hide your beautiful Bi light!

Just for Today: Know that no one but you can decide your gender.

Just for Today: Don’t worry about what label you use to express your non-monosexuality.

Just for Today: Take a look around you at all  the truly beautiful, wonderful human beings in this world!

Just for Today: Don’t feel you have to explain everything about your private life to prove you are Bi!

Just for Today: Don’t think your partner(s) define your sexuality!

Just for Today: Know that if you say you are Bisexual because you know it to be true, it is true!

Just for Today: Consider your Bisexuality the amazing gift that it is!

Just for Today: Know you may not always feel as though you have everything figured out and that is absolutely OK.

Just for Today: Know your Bisexuality is fluid and may change over your lifetime.

Just for Today: Take a deep breath and be grateful for being Bi!

Just for Today: Love yourself just the way you are.

Just for Today: Resolve to do all of the above again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that….

I love you. I see you. You matter. You are valid and valuable.

Thank you for being your beautiful Bi+ self. Keep doing that. : )

 

 

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Sex-ploration: An Odyssey to find your Authentic You.

Approximately a lifetime ago I came out as Bisexual. I was young but I knew my mind. I had had enough sexual experience to know what I liked and I felt fairly certain my preferences would not change. I had a raft of folks telling me I would pick a side eventually, however, here we are over 40 years later and while I have picked a side it is the same one. I am Bisexual. It has been a lifetime of surfing the spectrum of bisexuality but there has been no sea change in my sexual orientation.

However, it is common for most young folks (and some older folks) to feel unsure of exactly how to define themselves. There is absolutely nothing wrong or abnormal about that. Especially now with so many acronyms and labels it can seem overwhelming to figure out where you fit in.

I propose not calling that time confusing. I would like to coin a new term called sex-ploration. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is all sex all the time but rather language to define the journey to determining who you are and how you, or if you, fit into the Queer universe. I would argue saying you are setting off on sex-ploration is more fun than saying you’re confused, you don’t know who you are yet, you can’t make up your mind.

Sex-ploration indicates looking at unexplored territory and confidently making your way in uncharted waters. I know I used the term confidently while fully knowing how challenging it can be sometimes to feel confident as you try new things and meet new people. If you are uncertain just own that…remind yourself that you have a lifetime to know who you are and what you like. It could be using a term or acronym for yourself does not feel right. Don’t jump into saying you’re Bi, or any other term,  if you are not certain you identify that way. You would be surprised how understanding people can be of the journey to find your sexual (and your gender) identity. Many of us have been there and would not even consider pressuring you to explain yourself. Beware of anyone trying to tell you who you are. You are the only one who can give yourself a label or express your own sexual and romantic preferences. In fact, the more open and honest you are it is likely you will find the support and advice you truly need. You may need to actively seek support but it is there, if not locally, then on the internet somewhere (needless to say, sift and winnow, where you are seeking advice and look to legitimate organizations such as GLAAD, Bisexual Resource Center, BiNet, HRC and many others).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being curious. Curiosity is a wonderful personality trait and one that maintains your mental and physical flexibility. Call yourself bi-curious if you like, say you are on a sex-ploration journey in search of yourself, whatever you want but don’t set anything in stone. While being Bi is not a phase and, in fact, a legitimate sexuality you need to make sure it is the right one for you.

Take your time. Be fair to yourself and to your partners. Be honest. If you do that you will be true to yourself and that is what matters the most.

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Bi Gatekeeping

Bisexual. Pansexual. Omnisexual. Queer. Unlabeled. Polysexual.

What do these terms have in common? They are various labels for a person who is non-monosexual. Why are there so many? I don’t really have the answer for that but it really doesn’t matter. Folks choose the label which resonates with them and which they feel best describes their sexuality. And, guess what, that is just fine!

The only problem arises when folks use various labels to potentially divide the non-monosexual community. I personally like the term Bi+ to describe myself. However, I could use any of the above terms if I wanted to as they pretty accurately describe my limitless attractions.

Just like any other person I have preferences. I could not really express those preferences very well verbally….suffice to say, I know what I like when I see it. However, ‘what I like’ is not limited by gender. What I like has to do with a person who is relatable to me…that usually involves keen observational skills, a great, slightly off beat sense of humor and a general curiosity about the world.

My point is there is no one who can tell you how to be Bi and no one who can tell you which label to use. Only you are in charge of your own Bi-ness. Never allow someone else to have that agency for you.

Are there gatekeepers within the Bisexual community. Absolutely. Do you have to pay them any mind at all? No, you do not. In fact, I would argue when you see gatekeeping taking place whether in the real or virtual world confront it and make clear that as a Bisexual (Pansexual, Omnisexual, etc) you do not tolerate it.

As Bisexuals we get plenty of gatekeeping from outside of our community. We must not do the same thing ourselves.

It is actually much easier than you might think. It is simply a matter of understanding that we are a beautifully diverse group of people and that we all have our own way to express our sexual fluidity. All we have to do is not only accept but celebrate our differences. It is as simple as treating our Bi sibs exactly the way we would want to be treated with love and with respect. : )

 

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I am always actively Bisexual! ; )

Me: I’m Bisexual.

Other person: Are you…actively bisexual?

Me: Well, I am certainly not passively bisexual. In fact, I am being ACTIVELY BISEXUAL right now.

Other person: Oh, umm, ah….are you attracted to me?

Me: No.

End scene.

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Are you actively bisexual? That is the silliest and, depending upon my mood, the most annoying question I get asked. It stems from the idea that to be Bisexual I must be concurrently engaged in a sexual relationship with someone of all the possible genders in the universe. Not only would that be time-consuming (and, yes, it might be fun for awhile) but the likelihood of my finding that many folks at one time I would like to date is unlikely (not impossible, mind you)

Of course, when folks use the term ‘active bisexual’ they are, without fail, thinking of sex. They are also functioning from the mythical notion that all bisexuals must be sexually involved with all genders at all times. As stated above, that would mean I would probably not doing much else other than having sex. Could I do that? I like to think I still have a fair amount of stamina. Would I want to 24/7? Probably not. I do, in fact, have some other interests.

It is ridiculous to think that if I am not currently engaged with folks of all possible genders that I am somehow being ‘passively bisexual’. That is not an option. My sexuality is always flipped on. It is something I carry with my physical body everywhere I go. It does not mean I am attracted to everyone. It simply means my bisexuality is a fully integrated part of my being….like having blue eyes, or being radically left on the political spectrum, or being a musical omnivore,or being a bookworm. Bisexuality is a complete and total part of who I am as a human being and something I am never passive about.

This idea that Bisexuals are always sexual is demeaning and diminishing. Many of us think about sex, a lot. But, as stated above, it is not the only thing we think about. Seeing us as simply sexual beasts does not take into account the wide spectrum in the community (from aces to hyper-sexuals) and that all Bis have their own way to express their sexuality.

It can also be isolating to think of Bisexuality as only the sexual aspect of who we are. It is much more than that. It is our unique way of seeing the world and the beauty of individual humans. I can see a beautiful, sexy person without thinking of every single one of them as fuckable. Bisexuals are not predators and we take consent as seriously as people of other sexual orientations.

So, yes, I am actively Bisexual every single day and like all Bisexuals expect acknowledgement and respect for exactly who I am. : )

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Our Mission is to Exist.

Yes, that’s right, Bisexuals just need to exist. To be real. To prove we are here, we are queer and we are not going anywhere. That is easier said than done. Why you ask? Well, let me tell you….

Let’s start with my experience as a Bi+ woman (To be clear, I am a non-binary woman but I am certain that to many I look like a cis female).

Many attempts have been made to coopt my sexuality. I have far too often been ‘seen’ as a straight male fantasy….as a woman interested in sex with another woman so a straight male may gaze on appreciatively. That attitude makes it difficult to own your own sexuality. Trust me, it can be done, but it is just one way in which bisexuality is fetishized and diminished.

I have been accused of lying about my sexuality because I am married to a man. Cue my usual lecture about how my relationship does not define my sexual orientation but also cue someone telling me I am just saying I am bisexual because it is ‘on trend’ or because I want to be different or because I want attention. Given that a large portion of the attention I have received as an out bisexual has been negative that argument seems questionable, at best.

Studies generally show that fewer older folks identify as Bisexual. This is grasped by those who would pronounce that bisexuality does not exist to prove their point. I am 61, still joyfully bisexual, and I know that many folks in my age group will just keep a part of themselves in the closet than admit to being bisexual. I have had people tell me it is easier than getting into heated conversations about whether or not they are ‘still’ bisexual. I understand where they are coming from and have had folks tell me I ‘protest too much’ when I continue to be vocal about my bisexuality. The truth is bisexuality does not go away as you get older and is not just youthful experimentation. However, the diminishing numbers of those identifying as bisexual as they age is often used to underline the false assumption that bisexuality is not a lifelong gift.

The point of my rant is to support and encourage bisexual folks of every age to say who they are. The more of us who say loudly and proudly that we are Bi+ the less likely it will fall to future generations to continually have to prove who they are.

I have said this before, and it bears repeating, when we tell you who we are, believe us! It matters for our physical and psychological health to be acknowledged as who we say we are. To those who have questioned our existence use BiVisibility month to change your ways. To those who are Bi who have let others define who you are make a concerted effort to tell those you feel safe telling that you are Bi+. It really really matters!

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