I am bisexual. I have always somehow known throughout my life. It sounds simple, but if I never had any hesitation about who I felt attracted to, why did it take me so long to be able to openly talk about and proudly recognize it?
The stigma behind bisexuality
I have heard people say things such as, “Bisexuals are just confused,” “They’ll eventually pick a side,” “They just want to get it on with everyone,” “I don’t really believe bisexuals exist,” and more.
For a long time in my life, I saw people around me coming out as bisexual, especially during my early teen years. When this happened, I heard a lot of different comments such as “this is probably just a phase,” and therefore assumed that my attraction to women was just a phase as well. I think deep down I wanted it to be because then I would be exempt from having to deal with the issue and face the comments, questions and even sexualization from the people around me.
Still, as time went on, it became clearer and clearer to me that this was not just a phase or something that would fade away. I never told anyone about it because I felt ashamed of not being able to pick a side, and was scared to lose people I deeply cared about. So I tried to force myself to pick, thinking maybe I was homosexual.
But as time went on, I also realized that was not it. Then I thought: Why am I forcing myself to pick a side when there is no side to pick, especially when I know deep down that I am attracted to more than one gender? Why am I letting anyone who is not me dictate how I should be feeling and who I like?
Bisexuality in numbers
According to the Human Rights Campaign, and LGBTQ advocacy group, “Studies suggest that about 50 percent of people who identify as either gay, lesbian or bisexual, identify as bisexual.” Then, why is it that we erase this identity so much? The prevalent thought among our society that bisexuality is not a valid orientation only makes it harder for that 50% of the LGB community to fully accept themselves.
Contrary to what some people might think, this erasure is also prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community. Jade Sophie Wilson wrote an article for the online publication “The Establishment,” in which she mentions a YouTube video called “What Lesbians Think About Bisexuals.” In it, YouTuber Arielle Scarcella “asked several gay women to describe bisexuals in one word. The first woman answered with “greedy.” Other responses included “confused,” “messy,” and “rare- it’s a rare unicorn kind of thing.”
This really confuses me, considering LGBTQ+ is a community full of people who have most likely struggled with being accepted and validated by society, and still do. How so many people within a community that is supposed to be accepting have such a biphobic discourse is astonishing to me. In fact, this erasure and biphobia even have health impacts on bisexual people according to the Human Rights Campaign: “Because of biphobia and bi-erasure, bisexual people suffer significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety, domestic violence, sexual assault and poverty than lesbians, gay men or straight cisgender (non-transgender) people. Bisexuals also face major health disparities and poor healthcare outcomes from a lack of adequate preventative care.”
What can I do?
As a bisexual person, you should know that your identity is valid. You are not supposed to pick a side, you are not indecisive or greedy, you are not confused. Or maybe you are, maybe you’re not too sure how you feel right now, but that is okay. Sexuality is a long journey, and self-acceptance might take you the 19 years it took me, less, or more. But knowing that it is nobody’s place but your own to decide how you feel, what you feel, and who you feel it for, might make your path a little easier to roam.
If you do not identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and want to do something about it, that is great. Allies are needed and such a big part of people feeling accepted. If I did not have one of my best friends be so accepting, supportive and open, I do not think I would be brave enough to be writing this article right now. So show your friends they are valid, point out biphobic comments, and raise awareness of how bisexual people are real and deserve just as much respect as anyone.