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Is It Only Straight People Who Give Bisexuals A Hard Time? Nope!

In honour of Bisexuality Awareness week, here's a rant on why many assumptions about bisexuality are actually extremely damaging to many bi and pan identified people, and how they get shit not just from the heteros....

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But...they have it the best right?!

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From an outsider’s perspective, whether gay or straight, you may think that bisexuals have it easy. They have the largest possible dating pool and they have both the privilege of heteronormativity when in a “straight” relationship, as well as the community feeling that comes along with being LGBT+.

They have the best of both world’s surely? Well…maybe not.

The assumption that bisexuals somehow have it better than gay or straight people could not be further from the truth. Research from the “Bisexuality Report” published in 2012, found that bi people actually experience the worst mental health, on basis of sexuality alone.

It is easy to understand why this may be when you look at the unique way biphobia can negatively affect bisexual people.

Promiscuous, unfaithful, disease spreaders: these are all terms often associated with bisexuality. Many people, whether heterosexual or not, apparently cannot look past the “sex” in bisexual. In fact, a quick Google search of the term “bisexuality” offers up the first picture as a woman and two men, nude, and ready for an apparent threesome, (which, obviously, all bisexuals want).

Straight Discrimination

David Livingston

While heterosexual people across the Western world have become generally much more accepting and supportive of same-sex relationships over recent years, the stigmas straight people hold against bisexuals have appeared to stay the same.

Despite more people coming out every year than ever before, the idea of dating a bisexual person remains taboo for many straight people, particularly for heterosexual women, who are often very opposed to the idea of dating a bisexual man.

During a Facebook Q&A, Amber Rose, an actress who had previously mentioned being “very open” with her sexuality, even leading the LA SlutWalk in 2015, admitted that she wouldn’t want to date a bisexual man, saying; “I just wouldn’t be comfortable with it and I don’t know why”.

Even for a woman apparently as open minded as Rose, the idea of dating a man who is also attracted to men can be a deal-breaker. This is despite the fact that studies have shown bisexual men make better partners and fathers, mainly due to their more liberal attitude when it comes to gender roles and masculinity. One Australian study which interviewed a group of straight women’s experience dating bisexual men, reported that many of the women interviewed would never go back to dating straight men again.

Discrimination from the Gay Community

Nate Ryan / Via

One possible reason why bisexuals seem to suffer worse mental health is due to a lack of community support. Despite bisexuals making up the highest percentage of the LGBT community, they are often pushed to the side and forgotten. This year’s London Pride faced backlash for not dedicating enough time to bisexual awareness within the parade.

Lesbians and gays have fought extremely hard to be taken seriously from both a legal and social aspect. However, it is shocking just how much discrimination against bisexuals come from the mouths of those who supposedly should be their biggest allies. Unfortunately, many gays and lesbians hold the same assumptions about bisexuals that straight people do, and this results in a lot of in-fighting within the LGBT community.

Prominent gay activist Dan Savage has written some rather unsavoury columns on bisexuality in men and women, concluding in one instance that because women have been found to demonstrate sexual arousal at images of straight and gay sex, whereas men were more likely to only be aroused by one or the other, this meant that “female sexuality is a fluid and male sexuality is a solid.” To say Savage was missing some of the nuances of sexuality would be an understatement.

Additionally, the fact that not much is written about bi suicides compared to gay or trans demonstrates the total lack of awareness there is towards bisexual mental health.

Only 'til Marriage Are You Bi

A famous case of bisexual erasure came from the mouth of Larry King when he interviewed actress Anna Paquin in 2014. Referring to her marriage to True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, King appeared confused by her current identity, calling her a “non-practising bisexual”, and referring to her bisexuality in the past tense.

This “bi-until-married” idea, is by no-means limited to mind’s of straight men like King. In a 2016 Buzzfeed video titled: “Questions Gay People Have For Bisexual People”, a lesbian-identified woman appeared to imply that you could only be interested in both men and women “until you get married”.

This assumption is, of course, fairly ridiculous, and perpetuates the notion that bisexuality is somehow a temporary identity. As Paquin rightly told King: “Are you still straight if you are with somebody — if you were to break up with them or if they were to die, it doesn’t prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn’t really work like that.”

What Can Be Done??

Ultimately, more research needs to be done on bisexual people and their relationship experience to really grasp the true reasons why behind why bisexuality is still so taboo.

Positive exposure, whether through education TV or film, of bisexual lives is crucial in fighting against negative taboos.

Until changes are made, unfortunately bisexual people will continue to feel out of place in the LGBT community as well as the heterosexual world. However, with TV shows like Orange is the New Black which portrays sexuality in a more accurate and complex way beginning to take up mainstream space, we can only hope bisexual people will feel far more understood in the near future.

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