“Bisexual people account for half of the LGBT population, yet they are often isolated and overlooked,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project in a press release. “As a result, bisexual people experience pervasive bias and discrimination and lower rates of social acceptance, which in turn means fewer bisexual people feel comfortable being openly bisexual.”
In 2016, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a report called Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them detailing that nearly five million adults in the United States identify as bisexual. Furthermore, the report explains “ how bias, stigma, discrimination, and invisibility combine to create serious negative outcomes for bisexual people.”
GLAAD, in a partnership with the Bisexual Resource Center and Still Bisexual, created Bisexual+ Awareness Week (Sept. 16-23) which leads into Bisexual+ Visibility Day on Sept. 23. YouTuber and comedian Michael Henry gave an elaborate explanation on bisexuality in a video on his YouTube channel.
Useful terms to know regarding bisexuality:
- Bisexual, Bi – A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions to those of genders like their own and genders unlike their own.
- Bi Erasure – A pervasive problem in which the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality (either in regard to an individual or as an identity) is questioned or denied outright.
- Biphobia – Fear or bias against bisexuals, often based on stereotypes, including inaccurate associations with infidelity, promiscuity, and transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
- Bisexual+ Umbrella, Bi+ – An encompassing term for people with the capacity to be attracted to more than once gender. Includes people who identify as bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, and more.
- Pansexual – A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions to those of any or all genders.
- Fluid – Attraction that changes or might change over time to people of various genders.
- Queer – Once a pejorative term, now reclaimed by some LGBTQ people to describe themselves. Typically used as an umbrella term to describe someone whose sexual orientation or gender identity falls outside of cisgender and heterosexual.
Myths About Bisexuality
GLAAD debunks some common myths concerning bisexual+ identities:
Myth 1: Identifying as bisexual is inherently trans-exclusive or excludes non-binary individuals.
Bisexuality+ is no more inherently transphobic than being straight or gay/lesbian. In fact, a majority of Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming people identify as Bisexual+. Telling stories about Trans/Gender-nonconforming people who identify as bi+ is a helpful way to counter this myth.
Myth 2: Bi+ people have to pick only one identity and stick with it forever.
It is important to respect the terminology that a bi+ person uses at different points in their life, and to understand that people may identify with different terminology at different times. For example, someone may identify as “pan” and then later realize that they feel better represented by the word “queer.” Additionally, identities can be held together and change over time. For example, some people may identify as both “bi” and “pan” because they believe their orientation matches both definitions.
Myth 3: Bi+ people are either gay or straight.
Many bi+ individuals do not identify as “gay/lesbian” or “straight” often because those terms do not accurately describe their orientation or experiences. It is important to use the terminology that a bi+ person uses to describe themselves, even if describing someone as gay/lesbian or straight seems easier. Bisexual+ identities will only be understood better if they are represented more accurately.
Myth 4: Bisexual+ people are more promiscuous than gay/lesbian or straight people.
Bisexual+ people have the same capacity to choose or not choose monogamy as gay/lesbian or straight people. There is no reason to perpetuate the myth that bisexual+ people are less likely to be monogamous than people with other identities.
Myth 5: Bisexual+ people are “straight passing” or have “straight privilege.”
A bi+ person can be subjected to biphobic discrimination regardless of their partner’s gender. Arguing that a bi+ person has “straight passing privilege” because of their orientation promotes an inaccurate understanding of what it means to be bi+. It also erases the struggles and experiences unique to the bi+ community. For example, bi+ people face life-threatening challenges such as increased rates of Intimate Partner Violence, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse than their gay/lesbian & straight peers, and have less access to resources due to discriminatory attitudes towards bisexual+ identities.
For more information on Bisexual+ Awareness Week, Bisexual+ Visibility Day, and other topics pertaining to bisexuality, visit one of the following websites:
Sources: Movement Advancement Project, Michael Henry YouTube Channel, GLAAD