I work in a great environment, full of people of varying beliefs, sexuality, social backgrounds, spirituality, and even lack there of. I've never really come out and said I was gay, but I've told them my part time job was with an LGBT lifestyles magazine, they knew I attended Tel Aviv Pride and spent a week in Israel, and so on. So I've never said the words, but they're smart people and can put two and two together.
It's okay to be gay at my place of employment. It's okay to be a lesbian as well, we have a couple of them working in my immediate department. But what about bisexual?
If you stack up all the popular bisexual coming out stories next to the stories of people coming out as gay or lesbian, there is no real comparison. Coming out as bisexual is different than proclaiming you play for one non-heterosexual team. There's still a stigma about bisexuals, but who is that coming from?
Before I attended a Jewish coworker's engagement party last week, a first for me, I was told by the bride-to-be not to approach or touch any of the women there, but they could come and talk to me if they chose. I respected that, different culture, different beliefs. No problem. There were other coworkers there that were not Jewish so we hung out together most of the night, but still mingled. One of the guys, we'll call him Jay, is understanding of my lifestyle and doesn't seem to judge me. I don't judge him and respect his beliefs when he bows his head in prayer before every meal. We're an eclectic group and I think that is why we work so well together.
Some how Jay (straight) and I found ourselves discussing one of my more recent posts which then developed into the topic of bisexuality. He stopped the conversation and with a "now wait" statement. In so many words, he proclaimed and questioned that "Isn't bisexuality, taboo, looked down upon, and not really respected?" he then added, "It's like people trying to have the best of both worlds and not choosing."
As I drove home, I revisited the conversation in my head and a question arose. Was Jay stating that bisexuality is believed to be a lie on his straight side of the fence or was he saying that as a straight man, he believes the LGBT community does not accept bisexuals? If he had read a recent post from NBC News and theculturetrip.com, he would think the latter.
NBC news reports that what bisexual people are facing is "double discrimination” and loneliness which leads to “higher risk for poor mental health outcomes,” according to a recent study out of American University.
"Bisexual people are often invisible, rejected, invalidated [and] stigmatized in the heterosexual community as well as the traditional LGBTQ communities,” Ethan Mereish, an assistant professor at American University and the study’s lead author, told NBC News. “Given that isolation and discrimination, bi people might be experiencing increase factors that might make them more lonely or isolated.” – NBCnews.com
We as members of the LGBT community face higher rates of mental health issues than our straight counterparts. The American University study surveyed 503 bisexual adults ranging in age from 18 to 64 to hone in on their unique minority stressors and the effects they have on mental health.
“We know that social stigma within both straight and queer spaces contributes to bi people having low rates of coming out, so seeing loneliness pointed out as a factor that aggravates mental health issues, unfortunately, fits with that data,” said Ellyn Ruthstrom, executive director of SpeakOUT Boston and a former board member of the Bisexual Resource Center.
“Anecdotally, when I meet bi people around the country, one of the first things they mention is their lack of safe space to be comfortably out and a lack of bi-specific community resources to alleviate their stress and loneliness. More LGBTQ organizations need to be providing bi-specific services that can help alleviate these stressors and enable bi folks to feel supported by their own community,” Ruthstrom added. – NBCnews.com
What do you think? Do we discriminate against bisexuals? I do not think we discriminate as much toward bisexual women as wel do bisexual men, but that might be just my perspective as a gay male. And so many of our sex apps out there let us choose to be bi and looking for bi, for it is almost a fetish to be with a bisexual man. My longest and best sexual relationship was with a bisexual man. It never escalated to the dating scene since it was clear that was something he didn't want.
Returning to my engagement party conversation, I recall me saying to Jay, "Why is bisexuality so wrong? I mean some use the bisexuality quantifier as a label for their transitioning to gay and lesbian, some use it during their experimental days, while others just clearly like both sides of the fence. We know what we like, why can't we respect what they are telling us they like?"
And I think that is why many bisexuals do not come out. Did you know you were gay before you came out? Or did you just come out as jay at the second you knew you were gay? I've never been in someone else's brain, but I'm thinking the coming out process is similar for bisexuals, usually long, often filled with self-doubt, second guessing, and fear. We need to realize that coming out and into the world is a similar emotional rollercoaster. We LGT members of the rainbow community need to stop second guessing the motives and beliefs of our Bs and support them just like we wanted to be supported when we busted out from behind those closet doors.