Erasing Bisexual Invisibility
September 23rd is Celebrate Bisexuality Day or Bi Visibility Day. The event, which was started in 1999, is an opportunity to combat myths about bisexuality and help people find the bisexual community.
While bisexuality is included as the B within the LGBT acronym, people in the bisexual community often feel that their sexual orientation is misunderstood. A lot of people believe that sexuality is binary and that people are either attracted to people of the same gender or people of the opposite gender. However, bisexual people are attracted to people of the same gender and of the opposite gender.
Bisexual invisibility is a result of many of the misconceptions about bisexuality, including:
- Doubt about the existence of bisexuality
- Bisexuality being seen as confusion or just a phase by people who haven’t yet figured out their true sexual orientation
- Famous bisexual people in history being assumed to be lesbian or gay, rather than recognizing their bisexuality
Even within LGBT communities, some organizations do not truly support the bisexual community and their materials, events and support are all geared towards people in or seeking same-sex relationships.
People in the bisexual community often face discrimination from the straight and gay/lesbian communities. According to an essay on Biphobia by Robyn Ochs:
Bisexuals are frequently viewed by gay and lesbian-identified individuals as possessing a degree of privilege not available to gay men and lesbians, and are viewed by many heterosexuals as amoral, hedonistic spreaders of disease and disrupters of families.This “double discrimination” by heterosexuals and the gay and lesbian communities is seldom recognized or acknowledged as a force of external oppression, yet this oppression is real and has many damaging effects on bisexuals.
Bi Pride is evident in the events that are planned each year for September 23rd, as well as the participation of the bisexual community in broader LGBT pride events. The Bi Social Network’s YouTube channel also includes numerous ‘I am Visible’ videos by bisexual individuals who are speaking out about their sexual orientation.
It is important to teach our children and other members of society that they can love anyone they want. Last year, on Bi Visibility Day, I wrote about what we teach our children about love:
When I talk to my kids about love, as in romantic love, we talk about sweethearts. Not boyfriends or girlfriends. Not husbands or wives.† I donít want to teach them that heterosexuality is the default. I donít want to teach them that marriage is the default either. When I talk about their future, I talk about the possibility of them having a sweetheart, who could be a man or a woman. I want them to know that they can love women or men or women and men. I want to teach them that before society teaches them something else. I want to teach them that long before they are at the stage of feeling romantic love and perhaps feeling that their love is wrong or misplaced if they love people of the same gender or if they love people of both genders.
Ensuring that our children understand the options that are available to them and the options that are available to others is critical to building a society that accepts and values diversity.
Is your community doing something to celebrate bi visibility this September 23? Are you doing something to celebrate bi visibility in your own life?
Photo credit: nerdcoregirl on flickr