Being openly bisexual often means being invisible, from both the dominant narrative of hetero-normative society and often within the queer spaces.
But awareness and visibility isn’t the only issue facing the bisexual community around the globe, they also face institutionalized discrimination as they are attracted to similar genders and multiple genders.
That being said, we, as a society, are slowly but surely tackling the critical issues and dilemmas that have concerned the bisexual community previously such as their sexual orientation being given the attention it deserves in the media and having the freedom to express their love. However, there are still issues that bisexual individuals face on a daily basis that we can shed light on.
“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
– Robyn Ochs, Long-time Bisexual Leader, and an Award-Winning Activist
Biphobia refers to the prejudice, fear, or hatred directed towards bisexual people. People are harassed, bullied, and abused. This usually happens when biphobic people see someone’s behavior as anything “not-heterosexual” which leads to fear, hate, and distrust.
Bisexual Erasure is the act of ignoring or dismissing bisexuality in various ways. Bi Erasure is an extremely rampant issue today. This problem negatively impacts everyone as it makes people question/deny the legitimacy of bisexuality. This often leads to bisexuals hesitating in identifying themselves as such. “Orange Is The New Black” is one show that came under a lot of criticism for Bi Erasure. This happened because the show referred to bisexual characters as either straight or “ex-lesbians”.
“When I was outed by Perez Hilton as bisexual, I suddenly started being asked personal questions, which was really difficult.”
Different stereotypes have formed by the way the media represented bisexuals in the past. Stereotypes like “People just say they’re bi to appear cool” and “They cheat on everyone!” are just a few examples. Such stereotypes not only damage a person’s confidence but also lead to depression and anxiety. What they fail to address is that bisexuality is not only limited to humans but has been observed in various spectrums of the animal kingdom. So after all, it’s not something to garner attention but rather it’s how people just are. This proves to be a huge issue for bisexuals. Lack of sensitivity, negative stereotypes, and peer influence creates a disturbing mix for a minority community who should be otherwise supported. Add politics and bad publicity to the mix, and the situation just worsens.
“You don’t seem bi.”
Oh shit sorry forgot my Bi.D. Wanna just watch me parallel park a hybrid while we listen to Lizzo or ??
— ditch pony (@molly7anne) May 28, 2019
“It’s just a phase”:
This phrase may sound simple, but it puts more bisexuals at unease. It portrays as if they are in a state of confusion regarding their sexuality. Hence, “bisexuality” is justified as an umbrella for them to stay under until they figure out what they are – which is false. This phrase is not only extremely rude but also questions one’s a sexual orientation. Which is both offensive and hurtful.
While the other members of the queer community have specific needs and problems, they are different from what bisexual people face. Bisexual people are often shunned or rendered invisible in LGBTQ spaces and conversations about LGBTQ issues. They are often assumed to be straight or gay based on the gender of the person they are currently dating. Organizations supporting the LGBTQ community, and who lack bi-specific programming, must provide tailored services to the bisexual population.
Bisexual people experience higher rates of sexual and intimate partner violence than gay, lesbian, and straight people as per many conclusive studies. A huge segment of bisexual men and women have reported sexual abuse, rape, and violence involving intimate partners. The justice system is indifferent when it comes to their welfare. The police refer to the crimes against them as “hate crime”.
Sexual orientation should not be a deciding factor when it comes to providing employment opportunities. However, bisexual people face a high rate of discrimination in their workplace. Which eventually leads to them hiding their bisexuality from their co-workers.
Lack of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive support often leads bisexual people to face hypertension and anxiety. Sometimes, it aggravates to the extent that they risk their health by indulging in substance abuse, addiction, and suicide.
The Bisexual Manifesto (1990)
30 years later and we're still fighting the same old myths and prejudices about Bisexuality. pic.twitter.com/wKnToM27m7
— Bryn 🏳️🌈🌹 (@brynismyname) May 26, 2020
While Bisexual people constitute more than half of the LGBTQ community, they experience major health, safety, and economic disparities. The poor experiences they have and lack of social support they need, lead them to have stigmatized and discriminated living. Listening to this segment and creating a safe space for this minority should be our target. These may not make a quick impact but in small ways and big, they will make some difference to the community. Together, we can resolve most, if not all issues and dilemmas faced by this section.
Still bursting all the myths surrounding bisexuality is very necessary considering the fact that bi-erasure and biphobia are very real to date. As per studies, about 43% of millennials would be comfortable being with a bisexual partner. In contrast, almost 37% of Gen Xers and about 25% of Baby Boomers would be open to having a bisexual partner. Men are generally more comfortable about having a bisexual partner than women. While the generations are changing the norms in varied ways, it is still the need of the hour to educate people about the different aspects of accepting and respecting everyone’s sexual orientation.
Next Read:Debunking the myths- Bisexuality