By Isabel Corp
To mark Bisexual+ Visibility Day, guest blog post writer Isabel Corp reflects on her experiences as a bi+ person—the nuances of the bisexual+ umbrella, the effects of under-representation, and why we should all do better by our bi+ friends and family.
Bisexual+ people make up more than fifty percent of the LGBTQ community, and yet we are still underrepresented and continue to have our authenticity questioned by gays, lesbians, and straight people alike.
I identify as pansexual, which is under the bisexual umbrella. I really liked the label because it recognizes that there are more than just two genders and attraction to people of all different gender identities is possible. I have always been unapologetic about my queerness and vocal about queer issues on my social media, but I also struggle to come out to strangers such as co-workers, medical professionals, and extended family, because that comes with ignorant questions and unprovoked remarks that attempt to deny, erase, and even fetishize my sexuality. I still grapple with internalized biphobia myself, and sometimes fear that I’m not “gay enough” for certain queer spaces.
This struggle and failure to understand come, in part, because we live in a binary society. Everything has to be black or white, male or female, borders or no borders, and that leaves no room for nuance. Our culture is so obsessed with labels that most people will cause mayhem if they are not able to shove everyone else into a neat little box, whether it involves their race, gender, sexual orientation, body type, or ability. People are automatically assumed to be gay or straight because of the gender of their partner, but most of the time they are actually neither. Society fears bisexual+ people because we force people to question the narrow and heteropatriarchal rules of attraction that they’re accustomed to.
But we deserve to be celebrated, not condemned, and that has to start with other members of the LGBTQ+ community recognizing that not only do we exist, but we share a commonality.
We also have a responsibility to acknowledge nuances within the bisexual+ spectrum. Not all bisexuals are monogamous or cisgender, and just like other gay, lesbian, and trans folks, not all bisexuals have the privilege to come out. Many bisexual individuals struggle to come out because they don’t want to put up with the inevitable tirade of ignorance, they don’t want to lose contact with their families, or they don’t live in a country where being LGBTQ is legal.
Acknowledging the complexities of this identity—rather than resorting to stereotypes and back-and-white thinking—is essential for the future of this community. Bisexual youth are more likely to commit suicide and engage in self-destructive behavior than their gay and lesbian counterparts, which is often a result of minimal representation and erasure—myths that we don’t really exist, we’re more likely to cheat, we’re just confused, or we’re just using the label as a stepping stone to coming out as fully gay. Yes, online communities have done extraordinary work that is changing the landscape and causing a shift, especially for young people, but that isn’t enough. We need more offline queer spaces to care about catering to us—every definition of “us”—as well.
I was at an LGBTQ+ bookstore a few days ago, and only one book in the entire store had the word “bisexual” in the title. That is unacceptable. Today and in the future, I want everybody to make it their priority to celebrate and thank the people throughout history who have fought for bisexual awareness from the very beginning, especially black, brown and LatinX folks—the ones who fought the hardest. And to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters on this Bi+ Visibility Day: don’t just see us. Fight for us. Our struggles may not look the same, but we are both trapped in a society that doesn’t want us to exist. And that won’t change if we continue to fight each other.