Why is bi visibilty so important?

By Jenny Crocker, Service Manager and co-Chair of Riverside’s LGBT staff group Spectrum

This Saturday – September 23 – marks Bi Visibility Day’s 20th anniversary. But why is that so important?

Those defining themselves as bisexual make up more than 50% of the LGBT community. But despite this, biphobia and bi-erasure, remains a prominent issue.

To the straight community we’re not straight enough and to the LGBT community we’re just not gay enough. This often leaves us feeling our identity isn’t valid and without support networks in either community.

When it comes to bisexual visibility, people face a number of problems that tend to push their sexuality into the background, or that contribute to misconceptions about them. Bi Visibility day provides an opportunity to help people understand what it means to be bisexual, and to counter biphobia and erasure.

When bisexual people are with a partner, it often contributes to their invisibility. If a woman is in a relationship with a man, for example, people usually assume that she’s heterosexual, even if she’s actually bi, whether or not she has a history of dating women. Likewise, a man dating a man might be assumed to be gay, but may actually be bisexual.

Bisexuality is also sometimes treated as a ‘phase’, a particular issue in the gay and lesbian community.

The myth that bisexual people aren’t monogamous and aren’t faithful persists, suggesting that bi people are promiscuous and incapable of commitment. Some partners may react badly when their counterparts come out as bi, assuming that by coming out, their partners are admitting to cheating.

The Bisexuality Report, published in 2012, found that attitudes toward bisexual people are more negative than those toward lesbian or gay people. A total of 66% of respondents only feel ‘a little’ or ‘not at all’ part of a LGBT community.

Many said that biphobia and bi erasure within LGBT communities limited their full inclusion. And 69% of respondents only feel ‘a little’ or ‘not at all’ part of a straight community. Some stated that they are misread as straight and therefore are assumed to be part of a straight community.

So to all the other bisexuals out there ready to de-cloak and be seen, and those who aren’t quite ready for that yet – happy Bi Visibility Day!