I don’t identify as bisexual (attraction to both men and women), but something that I have noticed in the LGBT community lately is biphobia. Basically, what’s happening is that when someone comes out as bisexual, they are often erased by both straight people and other LGBT people.
Coming out as bisexual often causes people to label someone as a “cheater.” This is due to the myth that bisexuals will always leave their boyfriend or girlfriend for the opposite sex. Another way that bisexual people are virtually erased from the community is when people assume that someone is bi simply because they “haven’t made up their minds yet.” These ideas are simply ludicrous, and only perpetuate the invisibility that bisexual people feel from the heterosexual and homosexual communities.
University of California lists other ways that bisexual people are erased by others simply due to their sexuality. The list includes…
- Assuming that everyone you meet is either heterosexual or homosexual.
- Supporting and understanding a bisexual identity for young people because you identified “that way” before you came to your “real” lesbian/gay/heterosexual identity.
- Expecting a bisexual to identify as heterosexual when coupled with the “opposite” gender/sex.
- Believing bisexual men spread AIDS/HIV and other STDs to heterosexuals.
- Thinking bisexual people haven’t made up their minds.
- Assuming a bisexual person would want to fulfill your sexual fantasies or curiosities.
- Feeling that bisexual people are too outspoken and pushy about their visibility and rights.
- Automatically assuming romantic couplings of two women are lesbian, or two men are gay, or a man and a woman are heterosexual.
- Believing that bisexual women spread AIDS/HIV and other STDs to lesbians.
- Thinking bisexuals only have committed relationships with “opposite” sex/gender partners.
- Looking at a bisexual person and automatically thinking of their sexuality rather than seeing them as a whole, complete person.
- Believing bisexuals are confused about their sexuality.
- Assuming that bisexuals, if given the choice, would prefer to be within an “opposite” gender/sex coupling to reap the social benefits of a “heterosexual” pairing.
- Assuming bisexual means “available.”
- Feeling that you can’t trust a bisexual because they aren’t really gay or lesbian, or aren’t really heterosexual.
- Thinking that people identify as bisexual because it’s “trendy”.
Unfortunately, this list could be much longer. Youtuber James Berry posted a video explaining his encounters with biphobia. Ending biphobia is something that would take years of shifting both attitudinal and existential barriers within the LGBT community. It’s not easy, but recognizing the issues listed above and then standing in solidarity with bisexual people can make a difference.