Another week dedicated to celebrating another beautiful, valid and visible part of the city region’s LGBT+ community, Bisexual Awareness Week starts on Wednesday 16th September and finishes on Wednesday 23rd September – Bi Visibility Day.
What is bisexuality?
Bisexuality has a whole host of definitions, most commonly the attraction to two or more genders. There is a common misconception that bisexuality refers solely to attraction to both men and women, while it in fact is largely considered an umbrella term for a wide and wonderful spectrum of sexual identities, including (but in no way limited to) pansexual, queer, biromantic, demisexual, and polyromantic.
The Bisexual Flag
The bisexual pride flag was designed by Michael Page in 1998 and was intended to give greater visibility to the bisexual community. The colours were carefully selected, with pink to represent same-sex attraction, blue to represent opposite-sex attraction and purple to represent attraction across the whole gender spectrum, for example trans, non-binary and genderqueer people. You can read how Michael Page came up with the flag design in full here.
Bisexuals can face biphobia both inside and outside of the LGBT+ community, through the assertion that their bisexuality is a phase and that they will, at some point, ‘pick a side’ – either heterosexual or homosexual. This idea erases the identity of bisexuals in both same- and opposite-sex relationships, suggesting they are ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ by defining their sexuality in terms of their choice of partner.
This erasure means that bisexual-identifying people experience biphobia in many areas of their lives, struggling to find acceptance within society and also the LGBT+ community. A recent study by the University of Manchester found that bisexual people were six times more likely to self-harm compared to other sexual orientations, with symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with self-injury associated, as well as problems such as physical assault, bullying and feeling of not belonging, although the study cited that further research was needed into these areas.
Be a bi ally, Call out biphobia like you call out homophobia and transphobia
Biphobia exists and persists among both straight people and the LGBT+ community. Overtly through verbal, physical and sexual abuse, and also through microaggressions like jokes and off-the-cuff comments. All contribute to the isolation and lack of visibility experienced by bisexuals in the community – allies should always call biphobia out.
Don’t perpetuate harmful myths and stereotypes
Bisexuals aren’t going through a phase, they’re not greedy, or indecisive or playing at being queer. Bisexuals aren’t more likely to be unfaithful. Bisexuals in same-sex relationships are not gay and bisexuals in opposite-sex relationships are not straight. These are just a few of the harmful stereotypes attributed to the bisexual community. Don’t perpetuate them and call them out where you find them.
Use inclusive language and correct people who mislabel
Bi people are not ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ dependant on who they are with. They are always bisexual – part of the LGBT+ community – a gentle reminder of this from allies is always appreciated!
Support and engage with bisexual organisations
Education is key to being a good ally, so follow bi organisations such as Bi Pride UK, BiCon, Bi Community News, BiPhoria and Liverpool Bi+ Group and support them. Bi Pride UK’s arts and culture magazine Unicorn is also a brilliant place to find bi artists, musicians and much more.