Bisexual Awareness Week: We See Each Other, And That’s Something

The first ever Bisexual Awareness Week ends today. In the last seven days, groups have released illuminating reports about the bisexual community, bisexuality hashtags have popped up on twitter, and people have hosted and attended events around the U.S. Bi people made connections and shared their stories. Robyn Ochs and Heru Khuti released a new book on bisexual men that I can’t wait to read. It’s awesome to see so much activity and learn about all the bisexual people who are doing amazing work.

I realize most of the world is entirely unaware of the week. Despite vibrant efforts from GLAAD, BiNet USA, and other organizations, the mainstream media didn’t pick up on Bi Week. All the coverage I saw came from queer sources — The LGBT verticals at Slate and Huffington Post mentioned the week and the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day on Tuesday to varying degrees, and The Advocate had a few good stories, mostly from the pen of their new bisexuality writer Eliel Cruz. Our friends over at Elixher had some great stories and hosted a Twitter talk. And I wrote a few pieces and lifted up the voices of our amazing bi readers. At events, bisexuals came together to celebrate and articulate their experiences, like in this video from GLAAD that gave me at least 10 feels:

There were moments of disappointment. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force chose Tuesday to publish a column from a woman calling for a dismissal of the term “bisexuality.” She argues that bisexuality lifts up a hateful binary definition of gender and doesn’t acknowledge that bisexual activists have grappled with and found bi-friendly answers to that concern. The comment sections of many articles I read were quick to call bisexuality a myth — though I didn’t have to moderate a single biphobic comment on Autostraddle, because you are all perfect and I love you.

I am generally suspicious of awareness and visibility campaigns. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge the impact — how much do pink product breast cancer awareness efforts contribute to the fight against cancer, and how much do they line the pockets of foundation presidents and company executives, for example. And that whole ALS ice bucket situation was out of control (though arguably effective). Visibility is a complicated question within the queer community, too — for many people, visibility and outness do not help achieve personal or political goals, and for others being visibly queer is dangerous. Making the bisexual community visible to the larger world won’t guarantee our safety or our rights. Awareness of our challenges and needs as a community is a worthy project, but only if it comes with follow up action.

We can’t fix every problem in a day, and bi week was highly effective in at least one way: It made bisexual people more visible to each other. On Facebook and Twitter, bisexual people found each other and had conversations. For example, activist Feminista Jones, who identifies as pansexual, started a great conversation on the hashtag #MyBisexualityIs, where people shared resources, asked questions, examined labels and supported one another. In the comments on the bisexuality stories here at Autostraddle, I was overwhelmed to see so much openness, kindness and thoughtful conversation from the bi people in our community.

Two of my friends from college came out publicly on Facebook, and two other friends came out to me personally. On Tuesday, posts in English and Spanish celebrating Bisexual Visibility Day and Celebrate Bisexuality Day were all over my newsfeed. I had dozens of conversation about bisexuality online and in real life. I learned about work happening within the bisexual community and created a long list of texts, organizations and resources to explore and share. Bisexual people are more than our sexuality and we’re committed to many things. It was important and powerful to set aside a week to come together to talk about our experiences, establish roots within the community and promote our causes and projects. A population that exists year round seized the opportunity to amplify its voice and invite people in for seven days. Work began that will continue, relationships formed that will grow and knowledge spread that will inform conversations and policy work.

I don’t mind too much that bi week didn’t go mainstream. We see each other in new ways, and I don’t think I can underestimate the impact that will have on our lives every day between now and Bisexual Awareness Week 2015.

Adrian is a writer, a Texan and a divinity student at Vanderbilt University. They write about bisexuality, gender, religion, politics, music and a whole lot of feelings at Autostraddle and wherever fine words are sold. They have a dog named after Alison Bechdel. Follow Adrian on Twitter @adrianwhitetx.

Adrian has written 148 articles for us.

15 Comments

    • I love this about Autostraddle. It is such a safe space. I loved reading all the comments on “Becoming Visible: On Coming Out As Bisexual.” I have finally found a website where not only are the articles worth reading, but the comments are, too. Biphobia is so rampant on every other website, and when I found Autostraddle, it was like everyone was saying, “Yes, you belong here. You are part of our community.” So thank you, Autostraddle. Thank you Autostraddle Contributers and Commenters!

  1. Here in Melbourne, Australia, it was actually reported in one of our large daily newspapers, so yay, right? However, they showed pictures of a number of ‘bisexual’ celebrities, only to then include (amongst others) a whole bunch of people who do not/no longer identify as bisexual (which they even noted in the text). I came away not sure if that counts as any kind of win (based on visibility), or just another example of the misunderstandings that exist.

  2. I think Bisexual Awareness Week is awesome! Before I realized that I was a lesbian, I thought I was Bisexual. Even though I never came out to anyone (besides my dogs) as being Bisexual identifying, even identifying as that to just to myself and to my pets, it was a huge part in coming to terms and accepting myself. Sometimes identifying as bisexual is used in a transitional way and I think that is okay. As long as when people say that they identify as bisexual we (as a society or individuals) don’t just assume that they are identifying that way because they may come out as lesbian, gay, straight, or some other identity later. I have a huge respect for bisexuals and I am so happy that there is a Bisexual Awareness week. You keep doing you and I have tons of respect for all of the bisexuals out there because you have to deal with a lot. You all are amazing and I hope you all take pride in who you are everyday even on days when it feels really hard. You are strong wonderful people. You do you. Because you are all awesome.

  3. The coolest part about the week has definitely been meeting up (virtually or in person) with other people who are bi.

    I found out a guy I went to school with for 2 years is bi after he commented on a post from autostraddle that I posted on facebook.

    I was also invited to a bi brunch potluck this year, which was pretty special!

  4. Thanks for bringing bi-week to Autostraddle! I love reading all the things on this site, but especially love the bi specific stuff. Thanks for sharing that you had friends who came out on fb just this week, I wasn’t sure if that was still something people did and since I am planning to do the same for national coming out day I didn’t want to proclaim both my queerness and that I live in a hole in the ground at the same time :/

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