March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, so I thought I would celebrate by spreading a little bit more bisexual awareness! (Because y’all can never get enough of that, right…?) Right.
Coming out is a process that every queer person experiences differently, especially in terms of support. Luckily for me, I don’t have a lot of people in my life who are not 100 percent supportive of me, or who do not value my whole self.
Even still, it’s impossible to go through life as an openly queer person—gay/lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc.—and not experience, intentionally or not, some form of homophobia, transphobia, or even biphobia. What I’m here to talk more about, because I am a bisexual woman (and therefore can’t speak for lesbian women) and have already shared my coming out story with you, is biphobia, and my experience with various forms of biphobia.
So let’s get started!
First, the definition of bisexuality [via. UC San Diego LGBT Resource Center] is fairly simple:
- Bisexuality (or the “B” in LGBTQIA) is the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to more than one gender/sex. A person who identifies as bisexual affirms this complexity and acknowledges a reality beyond the either/or dualities of heterosexism.
But biphobia is a little different:
- Biphobia is the dislike or prejudice against bisexual people, often due to fear or lack of understanding.
So what does biphobia look like?
Biphobia exists among straight people AND within the LGBT+ community, and can present itself in forms ranging from inappropriate or overly personal questions or comments (otherwise known as “microaggressions**”), to doubting or second-guessing the experience of bisexual people, and even to hurtful or aggressive comments or acts of physical violence against bisexual people.
- **A microaggression is a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype. [via. dictionary.com]
On a more personal note, I’ve listed below some questions, comments, and statements that have been directed at me since I came out a couple years ago:
“But how do you know…like really know?”
“I don’t trust bisexual people.”
“Wouldn’t your [insert gender] partner be afraid you’d cheat on them with a [insert gender]?”
“Wouldn’t your [insert gender] partner be afraid you’d leave them for a [insert gender]?”
“But if you married a [insert gender] you’d technically be straight/a lesbian.”
“How do you know you’re not just confused?”
“I don’t mind…so long as you’re not in my face about it.”
“I could never date a bi person because I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to satisfy them and they’d leave me for a [insert gender].”
“We’re all sinners.”
“You don’t look bi.”
“But how would you have kids if you marry a woman?”
“No thanks, I choose Jesus.” [said to me after I offered to explain what it means to attend an LGBT+ affirming church]
“So…does that mean you’d want to have a threesome?”
My reaction 99 percent of the time:
- Assuming that everyone you meet is either heterosexual or homosexual.
- Supporting and understanding a bisexual identity for young people because you identified “that way” before you came to your “real” lesbian/gay/heterosexual identity.
- Expecting a bisexual person to identify as heterosexual when coupled with the “opposite” gender/sex.
- Believing bisexual men spread HIV/AIDS and other STDs to heterosexuals.
- Thinking bisexual people haven’t made up their minds.
- Assuming a bisexual person would want to fill your sexual fantasies or curiosities.
- Assuming bisexual people would be willing to “pass” as anything other than bisexual.
- Feeling that bisexual people are too outspoken and pushy about their visibility and rights.
- Automatically assuming romantic couplings of two women are lesbian, or two men are gay, or a man and a woman are heterosexual.
- Expecting bisexual people to get services, information, and education from heterosexual service agencies for their “heterosexual side” (sic) and then go to gay and/or lesbian service agencies for their “homosexual side” (sic).
- Feeling bisexual people just want to have their cake and eat it too.
- Believing that bisexual women spread HIV/AIDS and other STDs to lesbians.
- Using the terms “phase” or “stage” or “confused” or “fence-sitter” or “bisexual” or “AC/DC” or “switch hitter” as slurs or in an accusatory way.
- Thinking bisexual people only have committed relationships with “opposite” gender/sex partners.
- Looking at a bisexual person and automatically thinking of their sexuality rather than seeing them as a whole, complete person.
- Believing bisexual people are confused about their sexuality.
- Assuming that bisexual people, if given the choice, would prefer to be within an “opposite” gender/sex coupling to reap the social benefits of a heterosexual pairing.
- Not confronting a biphobic remark or joke for fear of being identified as bisexual.
- Assuming “bisexual” means “available.”
- Thinking that bisexual people will have their rights when lesbian and gay people win theirs.
- Being gay or lesbian and asking your bisexual friend about their lover only when that lover is the same gender/sex.
- Feeling that you can’t trust a bisexual person because they aren’t really gay or lesbian, or aren’t really heterosexual.
- Thinking that people identify as bisexual because it’s “trendy.”
- Expecting a bisexual person to identify as gay or lesbian when coupled with the “same” gender/sex.
- Expecting bisexual activists and organizers to minimize bisexual issues (i.e. HIV/AIDS, violence, basic civil rights, fighting the Right, military, same sex marriage, child custody, adoption, etc.) and to prioritize the visibility of “lesbian and/or gay” issues.
- Avoid messaging to friends that you are involved with a bisexual person or working with a bisexual group because you are afraid they will think you are bisexual.
Anyway! I hope this blog was at least somewhat informative for you all. Especially considering that it’s coming from someone who is in no way an expert. I guess if I could end with a piece—or pieces—of advice, I would say to please just check yourself before making comments or asking queer people questions about their sexuality. For example:
- Is it your business? (Most likely not, but if a queer person is choosing to engage in or initiated conversation with you about their sexuality then, arguably, it’s probably fine).
- Is it something you could easily find out through a Google search?
- Is it judgmental?
- Are you making an assumption?
Also, please do your best to stand up for your queer brothers and sisters (and non-binary siblings) when you hear biphobic (or trans/homophobic) comments being made. Challenge yourself and your fear of speaking out. Challenge yourself to move away from the mindset that “both sides deserve a platform,” because hate speech and free speech are not the same thing. Trans/bi/homophobic language is dangerous, and can result in physical violence against queer people, and so no, both sides do not deserve a platform. Hate speech does not deserve a platform.
I will say it again: hate speech does not deserve a platform.
I have been lucky in that the majority of comments made toward me, or questions I’ve been asked could be classified as, at worst, microaggressions, especially considering I am also a white “feminine” woman. But I know there are others out there who have not been so lucky, and as humans it is our duty to fight for them, and love them no matter what.
And so, finally, let me just narrow down this entire message:
Go forth and love your fellow queers!