With Bisexual Visibility Day coming up on September 23rd, I wanted to write something about how important the day is. Particularly to young people, but I was drawing blank on what exactly to write about. In an attempt to get my creative juices flowing, I thought I would put a video on in the background while I scoured the internet for ideas.
The video featured a lesbian woman talking about how she was going to improve her dating life and the different types of “toxic people” she was going to refrain from dating.
As I listened I chuckled along with a couple of her rules, like avoiding “women who aren’t feminists and don’t advocate for the rights of women”, or “lesbians that believe in heteronormativity (that one partner has to be more masculine and one more feminine)”. As I was half listening, scrolling through Google searches for “Bisexual Visibility Day ideas” my ears pricked up as I heard “I’ll also be avoiding girls who date a woman for three months, call themselves a lesbian and then go straight back to dating men”. I stopped in my tracks and immediately felt a wave of shame and insecurity wash over me when this comment was followed by “if you want to sleep with men…don’t do that, you’re making us look bad”.
It’s a strange feeling knowing that you are the type of girl someone would actively avoid because you aren’t “gay enough” or “give lesbians a bad name” just because you’re also attracted to men. I wish that this video was just an opinion of one disenchanted woman, but it’s a dialogue I have heard many times.
Bisexual people are often excluded from the LGBTIQA+ community and Pride events because to many, we look invisible. A bisexual person in a relationship with a person of the opposite gender is still bisexual. However, if they attend a queer event with their partner they may be told that the event isn’t for straight people. Sadly, some believe one person couldn’t genuinely be attracted to two (or more) genders as was the case with this video. This discrimination from within our own community can cause a sense of isolation, loneliness and make people feel as if they don’t really fit in anywhere. The result of this is bisexual people being less likely to come out to their friends and family for fear of rejection and as a result poorer mental health outcomes.
I know if 15 year old me had a visible bisexual role model that it wouldn’t have taken me so long to come to terms with my sexuality. If someone had told me that even when I was in a relationship with a guy that I was still welcome at Pride it would have meant I could connect with the LGBTIQA+ community much sooner. If someone had told me that bisexuality comes in many different forms and doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be equally attracted to both (or more) genders then I wouldn’t have felt like an imposter in queer spaces. These reasons are exactly why we need a Bisexual Day of Visibility.
In whatever your role is as a friend, parent, teacher etc. on September 23rd take the opportunity to start the conversation with someone on how important it is to celebrate bisexuality. As that conversation could make all the difference to someone.