Happy Bisexual Visibility Day! This may seem like an odd title for a day celebrating bisexuality. Why isn’t it “Bisexual Pride Day”? For a term that comes up in the first four letters of the LGBT acronym, one might expect bisexuality to be pretty visible. Unfortunately, there are some really common misconceptions about bisexuality as an identity that make it necessary for there to be a day dedicated to discussion about accurate representations of what bisexuality means to people that are bisexual. A great way to show support to our community is to educate yourself on the nuances of this sexual identity. I’ll give some examples of major misunderstandings about bisexuality.
Since the 1960’s the bisexual community has defined bisexuality as attraction to two or more genders.
We sometimes get some flak for this definition because “bi means two” but definitions change over time. October has “octo” in it because it used to be the eighth month of the year. Now it’s the tenth and we haven’t felt any need to change it; we still know what month it is and you can still know what bisexuality is without saying it needs a different name. Additionally, not all bisexuals are attracted to binary genders (men and women). It’s possible for a bisexual person to be attracted to just women and polygender people or genderfluid people and third-gender people. Since those fit into the definition, they totally count. In general, people experience their sexuality differently. I wouldn’t assume two straight people are interested in the same body types or personalities or that they even have the same strength in their drives to have sex.
A lot of bisexuals (myself included) appreciate not being pushed into the “attracted to men and women exclusively” category.
I mentioned sexual drives before and that’s another element of bisexuality that I’d like to clarify. There is (more often than I have found comfortable) an assumption that bisexuals are hypersexual and are more likely to cheat on partners or are more likely to be interested in multiple partner sexual encounters. Some bisexuals may be hypersexual. Some may have a pretty low sex drive. Some may cheat on partners and others may only have one sexual partner for their whole lives. Some people may be into threesomes (or more-somes) but, if Tinder is anything to judge from, there are more straight couples trying to experiment with a bisexual (specifically a woman) than there are bisexuals looking for couples. And in that same vein, fetishizing our sexuality just feels kind of gross. My main point is that we’re people and everyone is different. We aren’t all one way. There may be some of us who are the stereotype and that’s totally valid. There may be some of us that are the complete opposite and that’s valid too. So are all of the personalities in between but what isn’t valid is making an assumption about a person’s character based on one element of their identity.
The need to talk about bisexual visibility is not just limited to heterosexual spaces.
Oftentimes, bisexuals are excluded from spaces that claim to be LGBT friendly on the basis of not being “gay enough” or for having a partner of a different gender. They are often told by other members of the LGBTQ community that they are in a “phase” and will eventually “fully come out.” Some people claim that bisexuals have “straight privilege” which is not true because 1) you cannot have the privileges of an identity of which you don’t ascribe and 2) having someone assume that you are something that you are not and having the (completely realistic) fear that letting someone know you are bisexual will lead to hate speech, violence, rape, or murder is not a privilege. There are forms of biphobia in both the straight and gay communities which is why visibility and spaces for bisexuals to discuss what their identities mean to them is incredibly important. If these opportunities and spaces don’t exist, then the same negative rhetoric stays in circulation.
To wrap up on a more Christian-focused note, God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. In the story of the Good Samaritan, it is revealed that our neighbors don’t just include people like us. Sometimes our neighbors are people we don’t like. For my own personal benefit, I’m going to suggest that maybe you don’t inherently dislike bisexuals but perhaps you just don’t understand bisexuality.
The best way to show someone your love is to actively try to understand them as a person, as your neighbor.
So I hope on this Bisexual Visibility Day, you take a moment to show some love and honor someone’s identity by doing some research or asking some kind-hearted questions.