Bi Visibility Day

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Content note: this post mentions bi erasure and biphobia. September 23rd is Bi Visibility Day, also called International Celebrate Bisexuality Day. It’s a day to acknowledge and celebrate bisexuality, to centre bi issues and crucially to address bi erasure and biphobia. Why bi visibility? A couple of years ago, before I was out, a college housemate told me about her ‘lesbian’ friend who had recently become pregnant and was living with a man. “I don’t think being bisexual is a thing”, she sniffed. “You’re either straight or you’re gay”. These were the words of, to be fair, a young, naive student, but her views are depressingly common, even among older adults, and not necessarily just straight people. Over the years I’ve heard hurtful myths about bisexuality and bisexual people, from the notion that we’re “sitting on the fence”, too scared to commit to being properly lesbian or gay (ugh), to the idea that if, say, a bi woman is in a relationship with a man, that she is in a heterosexual relationship. According to one particularly ugly myth, that I’ve sadly seen some feminists propagate, bisexual women in particular self-identify as such because we want to be sexually available to men. These myths are damaging, and can make bisexual people feel excluded from the very LGBTQIA+ spaces that should embrace them, aswell as society at large. Bisexual erasure in society is bolstered by media and culture. How often have you heard a character in a show or movie say, “I was gay/lesbian, but now I’m straight,” “I was young, it was just a phase,” or, “I don’t like labels?” There seems to be a pathological aversion to saying the b word. How many times have you seen a bisexual introduced to a show, but whose characterization amounts to a few hackneyed tropes? In 2015, Ireland will vote in a marriage equality referendum. Much as I’m dreading the likes of the Iona Institute being given their legally mandated platform to spew bigoted swill, I’m not jumping for joy at the prospect of bi erasure by both sides of the debate. Bisexual folk are marginalised by Ireland’s laws too, and our erasure from the debate risks reinforcing the myth that we can reap the benefits of this mythical “straight privilege”. What You Can Do To Help Well, first and foremost, you can amplify the voices of bisexual folk, and not just on September 23rd. Don’t assume to speak for bi folk, and assume that bi issues, lesbian and gay issues are one and the same. Those of us in the bi community that are white, cis, of class privilege, etc., need to identify our own privileges and amplify the voices of more marginalised bi folk, and recognise that not all our struggles look the same. Don’t assume that everyone fits into the box of either “heterosexual” or “homosexual”. Don’t buy into the damaging myths. Don’t assume that we’re “confused”, that we will grow out of it eventually, or that we’re doing it for attention. Don’t erase our sexuality by implying that we can revert to being straight when it suits. Finally, for the love of God, straight men, please don’t assume that I’ll want to have a threesome with you and another girl.

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