The 23rd of September is bi-visibility day. Despite the fact that bisexual people make up over 50% of the LGBTQIA+ community, according to some sources (1), bisexual erasure still occurs, even today. Bisexual erasure occurs when people deny the existence and validity of bisexuality. These views are often heard from both heterosexual and homosexual people alike, meaning that bisexual people can feel like they are not accepted anywhere.
To celebrate these events, I have put together a list of actual (somewhat amusing) ignorant comments I have received from people regarding my sexuality. Many, if not most, of these comments came from well-meaning people who love me and did not intend to be offensive, but were genuinely misinformed. Therefore, I thought I would attempt to educate readers about why these comments are misguided and inappropriate, as I have realised that some people genuinely might not know. Although I identify as bisexual, I do not represent or speak for the entire bisexual+ community. These are my own experiences and personal views on them, which may differ to the views of others in the community.
1.“Let me know when you decide if you are gay or straight.”
This is a comment that feeds into the erasure of bisexuality. It almost appears to me that people just cannot wrap their heads around someone being attracted to more than one gender. Bisexuality is not being unsure about which gender you are attracted to. Bisexuality means being attracted to more than one gender. That’s it.
2.“Loads of people go through phases and get confused!” [Implying that this is the case for me because I have said I am bisexual.]
Of course, some people have phases where they are unsure about which label best defines their sexual attraction and may have to do some self-exploration before defining themselves, or may decide they do not want to put a label on it at all. Everyone’s journeys are different and that is completely OK and valid. But only the person in question can make these decisions. Other people do not get to decide that others are confused. I personally do not walk around telling people that they have wrongly labelled themselves as straight or gay, so it is a bit baffling to me that it commonly happens to bisexual people.
3.“I support you, but keep this a secret from the children.”
I think a common misconception around conversations about sexual identities is that they are inherently sexually explicit. But children understand love. They understand why the princess and prince get married at the end of a movie. I personally do not believe that telling a child that I may find love with a prince or a princess one day is age inappropriate. I think it can help to show them that we are all different and it is OK if they ever feel that they do not fit in with a societal norm, because they are not alone. Also, comments like this can make me feel like I am inherently shameful and should hide who I am so as not to traumatise children, which is not a great feeling to have about yourself.
(However, even if I disagree, I will respect a parent’s wishes on this matter).
4.“Don’t try to kiss me / fall in love with me, ha ha.”
This is always very amusing to me and I have to be careful not to be too blunt when informing someone that it definitely will not be a problem. Even for those who are only attracted to one gender, does that necessarily mean you will want to date every person you meet of that gender? I personally do not assume that every straight male or gay female will fall in love with me. It is presumptuous at the very least and definitely pushes the boundary into arrogance.
5. “You shouldn’t be here.” [at LGBTQIA+ event]
Unfortunately, biphobia also occurs within LGBTQIA+ spaces. A small minority of homosexual people can feel that as bisexual people can pass as being straight, they do not deserve to attend LGBTQIA+ events. I definitely recognise the privilege of being able to pass as straight, particularly in locations where you could be killed for who you love. However, the B in LGBTQIA+ is for bisexuality, and is not just an extension of heterosexuality.
6.“Is this just to get attention from men?”
No. Women who love women do not appreciate the fetishisation of their sexualities. I do not define myself by how entertaining I am to heterosexual men, surprisingly enough.
7.“Great, this must mean you are up for involving other women in our relationship.”
This is very common. Multiple men have assumed without doubt that I would be keen to open our relationship. Bisexuality and polyamory are not synonymous.
8.“Wow, you really aren’t picky at all then are you? You’d go with anyone.”
Again, does this mean that all straight women or gay men would be attracted to every single man they meet? Do all straight men or gay women fancy every woman they ever meet? Being bisexual does not mean that I am attracted to every person that I meet (that would be exhausting). It just means that the people I do find attractive could be any gender.
9. “Bisexual people are incapable of monogamy / I will never be enough for you.”
Again, bisexuality ≠ polyamory. Some people may be both, but there are no grounds for assuming that a bisexual person cannot be content in a committed monogamous relationship. To think about this in a different way, consider a straight woman who may find herself attracted to men with dark hair and men with blond hair. If she settles down with a dark-haired man, that does not mean she will have no option other than to cheat on him with a blond man in order to be satisfied, because that is ridiculous. Similarly, whether I fall for a man or a woman, it does not mean that I feel compelled to cheat with another gender. I love that person for who they are, regardless of their hair colour or gender identity.
Sources: (1) https://www.lgbtmap.org/file/invisible-majority.pdf
Huge thanks to our very own Dorset Mind Ambassador Lucy Lewis, blogs about her experience as a bisexual person and aims to challenge some of the misconceptions she has come across.
Help us challenge Bisexual erasure and share this blog, or follow our messaging on social media this #BisexualAwarenessWeek Challenge the stigma and educate on Bisexuality – and be an ally for those who need it.
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