September 23, 2015 2 Comments
September 23rd is bi visibility day: something I’ve written about here before. This year I thought I’d post a Q&A I did recently on the topic of bi visibility to say why I think it’s still so important. You can also read a lot more on this topic over on the BiUK website and in The Bisexuality Report.
Why do you think that most research shows that bisexual people are struggling compared to lesbian, gay and straight people?
It seems highly likely that a major reason for this is bi invisibility. Bi people are marginalised in similar ways to lesbian and gay people, for their same-sex attraction, but they also experience something additional to this which is their invisibility – or erasure – in popular culture. Lesbian and gay people are rarely questioned as to whether they are really lesbian/gay. Also generally, once they have come out, people accept that their sexual identity is what they’ve said it is.
For bisexual people however, the experience of coming out is one of continued questioning, suspicion and even re-closeting (people assuming they must really be gay or straight). Bi people also experience double discrimination (from both straight and gay communities) which can lead to a sense of isolation or having no home or sense of belonging. Often bi people turn to LGBT communities when they have experienced biphobia and homophobia, only to find that they are rejected there too.
These things all tap into a couple of major elements of common mental health difficulties: self-criticism and alienation. Bi people are encouraged to doubt and criticise themselves, and they often feel very alone.
Of course the wider reasons for bi invisibility are the binary assumptions our culture has about sexuality and gender: that people are seen as gay or straight (and male or female).
What do you think the goals of bisexual activism and the bisexual movement should be?