Bi Visibility Day is an annual celebration of bisexuality, celebrated on September 23rd. Bisexuality and issues faced by bisexual people are often not widely known – bisexual people don’t have a high media presence, and are increasingly invalidated even by people within the LGBT+ community.
It began in America nearly two decades ago, by activists who wanted to increase visibility for bisexuality and bisexual people. September 23rd was one of their birthdays and also the birth month of Freddie Mercury, one of the most famous bisexual people. It’s now celebrated across the world and involves local events of bi group meet-ups, book launches, poetry readings and discussion groups.
Bisexual people make up over fifty percent of the LGBT+ community, however, they are often seen as straight or gay instead, depending on their partner. When Anna Richardson left her boyfriend of 18 years and began dating Mel Giedroyc, she received many questions on her sexuality, as though she had now ‘become a lesbian’ – people couldn’t wrap their heads around bisexuality.
Despite increasing participation in the day, there are still a huge lack of resources on bisexuality. Bisexual issues are normally combined with other general LGBT+ ones, or simply ignored. Too often bisexual people are shunned, even by gay and lesbian friends, or told that they’re going through a phase – the only time I’ve heard of someone going through a bi phase is when my friend initially came out as bisexual but later realised she was a lesbian!
Commonly within the bisexual community people are very white and middle class, and often there is ignorance and racism – people who haven’t thought properly about the issues faced by people who aren’t them. This can turn a lot of people away from supporting the community and especially for bisexual people of colour, they can feel alienated even further.
Bisexual people are often just called ‘greedy’ or ‘confused’, and there’s a stereotype that they are more likely to cheat on their partners. Christopher Biggins on Big Brother said that bisexual people need to just ‘pick a team’, and even at Pride people have been told to make their minds up. Too often bisexuality is ignored and silenced, people who have come out as bisexual are just called ‘gay’ even in mainstream media. Notable bisexual people include Gillian Anderson, Lady Gaga and noted sexologist Edward Kinsey (who made the Kinsey Scale often used to express sexual orientation).
Some people may be asking ‘Why do bisexual people need their own day, can’t they just be happy with Pride?’ And yes, Pride is fantastic, as is IDAHOBIT (the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia). Commonly rainbow flags are flown by councils and also here at the university – they flew by Hartley library after Orlando.
Biphobia is more serious than people realise – the Bisexual Report found that mental health, domestic violence and homelessness is worse for and happens more to bisexual people than straight, gay or lesbian people, across the UK and internationally. Biphobia and bisexual invisibility are heavily linked; not being supported and feeling left out has a strong impact. There is a stigma associated with bisexuality and they also found that attitudes to bisexual people are more negative than other minority groups. Bisexual people are often underrepresented in media, policy and legislation – and if they ARE in mainstream media, too often they fall victim to the ‘bury your gays’ trope.
More needs to be done to raise awareness for bisexuality and bisexual issues.
“Celebrating bisexuality creates visible safe spaces and community for those who are just coming out; so they know they are neither alone, nor abnormal.” (Elizabeth Mechem, Mom and Secretary).