During this month of pride, bisexuals are the group which receives the least amount of focus. Just over the weekend New York City Pride announced gay, lesbian and transgendered grand marshals for their event, conveniently glancing over their bi brothers and sisters. The third color in our inclusive rainbow, and still one of our most misunderstood allies. Even in the gay community, a bisexual person is viewed with mistrust. They’re confused…greedy…unable to commit to a monogamous relationship...
But the truth is that these misconceptions are a reflection of the gay and lesbian community’s plight to carve out their own niche in society. Take marriage, for example. While the LBGT Community has made great strides in its fight for marriage equality, marriage has historically been used as a form of social and sexual manipulation and, in some places, still is. Now don’t get me wrong—marriage equality is an important issue, and one I will continue to fight for. But, gay marriage is just an example of a desire to adopt this heteronormative identity most comfortable to the society around us…not necessarily ourselves.
Similarly, gay and lesbian communities have defined bisexuals in the same binary terms society has imposed on them. Sexuality is black and white. Gay or straight. Top or bottom. Male or female. But this most certainly isn’t the case. Gender and sexual identity are spectrums humanity is still striving to understand. Defining sexuality in such narrow, subjective terms cheapens it and complicates the discourse. So instead of understanding bisexuality, we view it as an other—something outside of our own perceptions of what sexuality is supposed to look like, what it represents.
According to this article on bisexual exclusion, bisexuals make up nearly half of the LGBT Community, yet receive the least amount of resources to address the specific needs of the bisexual individual. Like mental and sexual health. Studies show that more bisexuals experience suicidal thoughts than their gay/straight counterparts, and when it comes to STI prevention most of the material is geared toward homosexuals. In other words, bisexuals are grouped with the “safer” classification of gay, lesbian or straight, instead of defining their own sexuality, thus marginalizing bisexuals and making for an awkward visit to the hospital.
Bisexuals aren’t the only group that has come to be marginalized by mainstream LGBT culture. For years the trans community stood side by side with bisexuals on the fringe of gay and lesbian culture. Historically, both groups have been largely ignored. We don’t give much consideration to the trannys who fought with the cops on the night of the Stonewall Riots, no more than we think of a bisexual woman organizing the first open gay march through New York City. But as we saw over the weekend, transsexuals have become a more integrated part of the LGBT Community. Maybe it’s because they’re louder than our bisexual brothers and sisters. (Just look at the stink they made over Ru Paul Charles’s use of the word “she-male”.) But just because the bisexual community is quieter doesn’t justify excluding them from the festivities. Bisexuals should be as proud as we are, more so, because they have owned their sexual identity more than some gay and lesbians. They are honest with themselves, and for that I applaud them. As bisexual activist Robyn Ochs said:
“We are pointing out that we are already here, we have been here for a long time, and we ask that our presence as citizens be recognized legally, culturally, and interpersonally…It would be a lot easier for me and for a lot of my bi and trans friends, as well as for my forward thinking gay and lesbian friends and allies, if conservatives—heterosexual and gay—would acknowledge what already exists. I’m sorry that some people have such a hard time accepting reality, but I am not going to disappear, or keep quiet, to make biphobic or homophobic people more comfortable.”
And you shouldn’t have to Robyn. Sexuality is fluid, even for gay and lesbians, and just because someone doesn’t understand it doesn’t give them the right to be a d-bag. But be sure to remind those biphobic assholes of all of this newfound privilege they enjoy because of people like you—the fighters who refuse to keep silent.
So here’s to the bisexuals! Get out and celebrate with the rest of us, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t understand. This month is as much for you as it is for them.