Don’t Forget the “B”: 10 Things You Should Know About Bisexuality

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The “B” in LGBTQ often gets forgotten. Here are 10 things you should know about bisexuality!

This semester I’m taking a class called Gender, Sexuality & Space with Professor Jack Gieseking. I can’t believe this is the first queer studies class I have ever taken, and it’s my last semester in college. It took me some time to gain the confidence to take the class, I think. This post was a project for class: we were asked to pick an identity and create a “Top 10” list of things people might not know. Here goes!

1. What is bisexuality?

Bisexuality has many different definitions and can be a very fluid identity. A very broad definition for someone who identifies as bisexual is someone who falls between heterosexuality and homosexuality. [1]

The Bisexual Resource Center provides this definition:

Bisexuality is a diverse sexual orientation, because people within the bi+ community define it in various ways. Some identify as bisexual, while others use pansexual, queer, fluid, or no label at all to describe their attractions to more than one gender.  [2]

It is commonly accept that the term bisexual is used by those who are attracted to more than one gender, and it can be used alongside or interchanged with various other terms which have similar meanings and histories.

2. What is the Bisexual Civil Rights Movement?

Bisexuals have been a visible part of the modern Gay Rights movement since the 1960s. [3] In the 1970s, bisexuals also began to organize around their own specific issues, forming the National Bisexual Liberation Group, the first bisexual newsletter called The Bisexual Expression, the Bi Forum support group, and many other programs. [4]

In the 1980s, after the movement had been been predominantly led by males, bisexual women took the lead in organizing. [5] Many bisexuals became dedicated to AIDS activism. [6] By the 1990s, the bisexual community was connected by national and international network. [7] Bisexual networks continue to grow and flourish today more than ever before.

Source: Peter Tatchell

3. Biphobia

Biphobia is the specific structural oppression bisexuals experience due to their identities. [8] Bisexual people face this when coming out and in their everyday lives. Biphobia is caused by heterosexism, which divides humans along a gender binary and defines how “real men” and “real women” should act. This binary is socially constructed, and a similar idea applies to applies to sexualities as well. Since bisexuals fall in the middle of the sexuality spectrum, they defy any kind of binary. [9]

One way bisexual people may experience biphobia is through marginalization within the greater LGBTQ community. For example, bisexual women tend to be excluded in lesbian groups because they are not considered “lesbian” enough or even a true part of the LGBTQ community. [10] When you add discrimination within the LGBTQ community to the discrimination bisexuals experience from heterosexuals, bisexuals seem to have two targets on their backs.

 

Source: SBS

4. Persistent myths about bisexuality
There are many myths about bisexual people that have been around for a long time.  In a 1994 article called “The Myths of Bisexuality,” author Barbie Anderson highlighted a few myths that still persist today: bisexuals are promiscuous, bisexuals cannot be monogamous, and bisexuals only use the label in order to “transition” into identifying as gay. [11] Some of these stereotypes even exist within the LGBTQ+ community, and they are present even until this day.

Source: Pinterest

5. Bisexual media representation

Although stereotypes do still exist in media, the depiction of gay, lesbian, and transgender characters on TV shows and in movies has become much more positive. However, bisexual identities continue to be nonexistent or misrepresented in many media sources. [12] TV shows often perpetrate previously mentioned myths and stereotypes about bisexual people.

Bisexual representation has drastically increased in the past few years, however! One of the first shows with an openly bisexual character (who actually used the word “bisexual”) was Grey’s Anatomy. Callie Torres played a doctor who realized that in addition to being attracted to men, she became attracted to women as well. She struggled with her identity on the show and brought awareness to the bisexual+ community in an important way. [13]

More recently, the new Freeform show The Bold Type introduced a bisexual character named Kat. Her sexuality is more fluid and provides a take on bisexuality we have not really seen on TV before. [14]

Source: Curve

6. Bi Visibility

One focus of the bi+ community is increasing visibility. This can be done through representation on the TV shows I have mentioned or simply through better representation of bisexuals within LGBTQ+ organizations. GLADD’s annual report from 2016-2017 stated that, “of the 278 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters on scripted broadcast, cable, and streaming programming, 83 (30 percent) are counted as bisexual.” [15] This represents incredible progress in bi+ visibility and should be celebrated!

Bi visibility is a tricky issue when it is linked to appearance. Often when lesbians come out, they change certain aspects of their appearance to visibly signal to others that they are queer, such as becoming more traditionally “masculine.” Bisexual women often do not do this (and not all lesbians do either, by the way!), which has caused an interesting division between many lesbians and bisexual women. [16] Because some bisexual women might not appear as “queer” as lesbians, to put it one way, they might be assumed to be straight in spaces such as Pride, especially if they enter a space with a partner of another gender.

Source: Pinterest

7. The creation of #BiTwitter

In early 2017, bisexuals created the hashtag #BiTwitter where they share selfies, articles, and cartoons to educate people about bisexuality and connect with one another. The hashtag “encourages bisexual people of all genders to claim online space in order to grow visibility of bisexuality and gain acknowledgement and acceptance.” [17] Twitter gives bisexual youth an amazing space to support each other and share encouraging messages. [18]

Source: @SaddiNYC

8. Brenda Howard- the ‘mother of pride’- was bisexual!

The Stonewall Riots, a huge moment in the history of the LGBTQ rights movement, began on June 28, 1969. It was a three-day standoff with police that inspired the beginning of our current civil rights movement. [19]

One month after the riots ended was the first Pride parade, the Liberation Day March, organized by Brenda Howard. Brenda was a bisexual woman with a partner of a different gender. [20]

She ended up cofounding the New York Area Bisexual Network in 1988 to support the bisexual community in New York City, and it is still used today. She was a pioneer in the LGBTQ civil rights movement and in the bisexual community. [21]

Unknown
Source: Facebook

9. Famous bisexuals today

One of the most famous bisexuals in the music industry today is Frank Ocean. He came out through a letter on his Tumblr in 2012, and he is now one of the biggest artists followed in the bisexual community. Before releasing his album Channel Orange, he wanted to let his fans know that some of the songs on the album were about relationships he had been in with men. [22]

On why he decided to come out, he said in an interview:

I was thinking of how I wished at 13 or 14 there was somebody I looked up to who would have said something like that, who would have been transparent in that way. [23]

Source: GQ

Another famous bisexual who recently came out is Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony. She released a letter after the 2016 election and expressed pride in her identity. Both of these famous artists have made a huge impact on the bisexual community.

10. In conclusion, bisexuals are amazing, and they have their own full and beautiful identities! They are not half gay and half straight. They also have great puns. And memes. Seriously, go check out #BiTwitter. It’s amazing.

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