It’s bisexual pride day today! Let’s celebrate by addressing some fuckin’ biphobia.
In the past few months, I’ve been realizing that a lot of my attitudes towards bisexual people are pretty fucking shitty. Yeah, I know – I am bisexual, and I roll my eyes when other people hit me with the “it’s just a phase” or “but how far have you actually been with a girl?” bullshit. But for some reason, I started to notice that little bubbling well inside me that was offering up these horrible thoughts about bisexual people that I would have been less than pleased to hear off someone else: I’d look at a bi woman coming out, and some foul part of me would roll her eyes at it being done for attention. I started to refer to myself as “basically straight” because I’d been in a relationship with a man for so long. I found myself internally invalidating myself and other people with biphobic nonsense that I couldn’t seem to get out of my head, and it was really fucking with me – I’ve been loud-mouthed about calling out shitty bisexual stereotypes in the media and in real life, but when it came to inside my own head, it was a free-for-all of cruelness and stereotypical stupidity directed at myself and other bisexual people in general. And I know I’m not the only non-monosexual person who feels that way. But why?
I guess, being a bi person in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, that I was pretty quick to play down my sexuality because I passed as straight. In the real world and on this blog, I really didn’t want to be seen as impinging on queer spaces, so I would hold my hands up and back away from The Gay Shit for fear of coming across like a straight person trying to wear gayness as a fashion statement. The media and most people have a really specific view of what bisexual people are – greedy, lying, or slutty, mostly – and when you’re told from every angle that you’re not valid, that you don’t exist, of course you’re going to internalize those attitudes. You’re going to back away from queer spaces, not feel at home in straight spaces, and try to fucking avoid the subject because the thought of having another debate with someone about whether having gone down on a girl makes you gay enough is just too nightmarishly exhausting.
I know, because I’ve been there – these attitudes to bisexual people leave us feeling as though we don’t have a place we can be ourselves without judgement or disclaimer, and without a place to positively interact with other bi people, we’re left mainly with the mountains of negative shit that the media and society at large heaps on us for daring to be attracted to more than one gender. We as a society use stories to impart our morals and values, and when the only stories about bisexual people that make it into the mainstream are ones that say we don’t exist, or we’re attention whores, or desperate or promiscuous or greedy or lying or stupid or careless or just a bunch of damn fools who haven’t made their minds up yet, that is what bisexual people take on.
And this is not without consequence. Bisexual people are six times as likely as gay and lesbian people to be closeted. Bisexual women are twice as likely to be abused, and three times as likely to be raped. Bisexual people are prone to higher rates of self-harm, depression, anxiety, and suicide linked to their sexuality compared to other members of the LGBTQ community. Honestly, a lot of us aren’t doing great. And why should any of that come as a surprise? We’re telling bisexual people that they should think really fucking terrible things about themselves, and we take that on, because there are so few positive role models and spaces for people attracted to more than one gender to validate themselves.
We’re too gay for the straights and too straight for the gays, with the Pride march in London scrambling to include bi people last-minute after a backlash against their non-involvement. We’re consistently forgotten in LGBTQ spaces (the National LGBTQ Task Force, lest we forget, published an article on Bisexual Pride day a few years ago encouraging bi people to stop using the bisexual label), and we don’t fit in straight ones. We’re stuck between communities, leading to the erasure of bisexual people, as those around us just assume we’re straight or gay based on who we’re with at the time. And so the vicious cycle that makes sure that bi-positive spaces and communities are a secondary concern continues – and that leads to a whole new group of bi people with no positive or even neutral messages about their sexuality to internalize biphobia and end up miserable because of it.
I can’t sit here and pretend to offer any answers because what we need is a tide change from the world around us to switch up the narratives we build around bisexual people. It’s bisexual pride day today, and I just want to let any other bisexual, pansexual, and non-monosexual people in general know that you’re valid, you exist, and that you deserve a place to be yourself without fear of scorn or general assholery.
If you’d like to read more of my writing on sexuality, take a gander at the links below, and please consider supporting me on Patreon!
Greey, Lying, or Slutty: Straight-Passing and Bi-Erasure