Today is Bi Visibility Day, a time for bi-, pan- and non-monosexual/romantic people as well as our allies around the world to celebrate the existence and survival of bi* folks and culture. When we use the term „bi*“, we are referring to people who are attracted to more than one gender, whether they identify with a specific label or not.
The term „visibility“ is key – as bi, pan and fluid folks are often rendered invisible because they are seen as either straight or gay, depending on the (perceived) gender of their partners. Yet, „bi*“ is a category of its own and it’s important that it is treated as such.
Many articles online talk about the misconceptions and stereotypes, yet rarely mention the discrimination bi*people face. Unfortunately, it’s true, there are many misconceptions that are harmful. For example, bi* is often considered ‚binary’, meaning that only (cisgender) men and women are desired, because „bi“ literally translates as „two“. The misconception is that bi* people, by definition, exclude non-binay and many transgender folks. However, the rich history of the bi* community, its cross-over with the trans community and the definitions most people use prove otherwise. In addition to that, many bi* folks are trans and non-binary themselves or have transgender or non-binary lovers. Thus, if we want to support trans* and non-binary people, we should celebrate their visibility, too and call out trans*phobia in straight, lesbian and gay spaces as well.
Bi* invisibility and phobia literally kills people!
What is more harmful than the misconceptions, though, is the structural discrimination bi* people face, which is rarely talked about. It is not mere coincidence that bi* women, bi* trans women especially, are more likely to experience violence, more than their hetero- and homosexual counterparts, as statistics (such as the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) 2010) point out. It is not mere coincidence that bi* folks are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and commit self-harm and suicide. It is not mere coincidence that they lack the economic and social resources to get help or organize. Why? Because bi* specific groups or programs are rare and the lives and problems of bi* people seldomly talked about.
As a result, bi-folks are often excluded from both hetero-mainstream and LGBT spaces, and they constantly have to defend their choices and desires, leading to serious economic, social and health-reated problems. Yet bi people are neither gay or straight, or a phase! They are an identity and a community of their own right.
It is our day and these are our desires, our experiences and our labels – so let us speak for ourselves. As allies, we need you to listen to our needs and support bi* folks in their struggle for an inclusive society without fear of discrimination. Support us by acknowledging that we exist. Support us by naming bi* folks when we are affected by it, too. Support us by specifically including bi* people, opening up bi* spaces and programs. Support us by thinking about how you, too, have misconceptions about and prejudice against bi* people. Support us by listening – and speaking up for the many bi* people around you; because together we are stronger to fight against any kind of hatred and sexism in society. Our existence and our struggle are real.
Written by Elia Scaramuzza, Frida and Jull Taragan.