feature image via thenextgreatgeneration.com
Bisexual people make up more than 50 percent of the LGB community, but media, the mainstream, and even LGBT groups often erase our experiences and specific needs or fold them into lesbian and gay programs and statistics. BiNet USA, GLAAD and other organizations hope the first ever Bisexual Awareness Week will be a step toward making more space for for the B in LGBT.
September 23, 1999 was the first Celebrate Bisexuality Day, and in that tradition a big part of the week aims to celebrate what makes bisexuality and bisexuals great, and honor our accomplishments throughout history and today. Organizers also want to make people aware of the stark realities non-monosexual people face, like poorer health, higher rates of sexual assault and relatively low rates of being out as bisexual — only 28 percent of bi people say they are out to the most important people in their lives, compared to more than 70 percent of gay and lesbian people.
“Bisexuals are coming together to say we can’t live with this anymore,” said Faith Cheltenham, the president of BiNet USA. “Because we haven’t been living with it — there have been a lot of suicides. I’ve lost three friends in this work since I started doing it because they had no hope.”
Bisexuals have successfully worked together to gain more visibility and pursue proactive policies and services in recent years. There are many ways to celebrate and honor Bisexual Awareness Week. Here are a few! Add your own in the comments.
1. Educate yourself about the specific challenges of bisexual people and support efforts to improve our lives.
A new report from the LGBT Movement Advancement Project uses data to demonstrate the ways in which bisexual people face specific challenges and thus require targeted solutions. The report collates a lot of data that has been widely shared and discussed on this website and many other places — and that’s because there simply isn’t much reliable data on bisexuals, said Heron Greenesmith, a movement and policy analyst for LGBT MAP. It’s startling and important to see so much data collected in one place. The report highlights poor physical and mental health among bisexuals compared to heterosexual, lesbian and gay people; higher levels of poverty; and higher rates of intimate partner and sexual violence among bisexual women.
This report gives the media, service providers and bi people a comprehensive place to go to look for information and statistics about bi people. Says Greenesmith:
I’m hoping that media will use it and all the resources collected during the week to speak more competently about the LGBT movement and understand that even the LGB part is not a monolith. I’m hoping LGBT organizations will see it as an invitation to showcase their bi-specific programming and for those who don’t have any to understand the necessity and the importance of having bi-specific programming. I’m hoping that bi folks will see it and know that not only are they not alone but other people are going through the same challenges they are facing in their lives and folks are out there who are supporting them. I’m hoping that service providers and researchers will take it as an invitation to be more culturally competent and precise in their language around LGBT people and in their work.
The research presented demonstrates why it’s harmful to fold bisexuals in with gays and lesbians or heterosexual people when doing research and providing services. For example, Cheltenham noted that many LGBT-oriented health centers can’t or won’t provide bi-specific health care and may even turn away bisexual patients. The lack of information and awareness has very real consequences. As Greenesmith said, there is a dearth of research on bisexuals, and not much of what does exist accounts for the intersections of oppression that put some bisexual people, like those who are transgender, gender nonconforming or non-binary, of color or low-income at greater risk. With more knowledge, policymakers and service providers can better target their work to reach the most people and improve outcomes for bisexuals and everyone in the larger LGBTQ community.
2. Read and share books about bisexuality.
I semi-regret getting the incredible Bi: Notes From A Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner on Kindle because it makes it harder to foist it upon people and make them read it. Before I read it, I was timid about identifying as bi because I felt like it carried baggage I wasn’t prepared to handle. After reading Eisner’s book, I became excited and proud to call myself bi (in addition to queer) and quote it at anyone who will listen. Now I’m making my way through Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around The World, an anthology of more than 200 essays from bisexual people from 42 countries who speak from many different experiences of gender, race, class and more. Its editors, Robyn Ochs and Sarah Rowley, are among the most trusted and active bi women in the U.S. and internationally. Next up on my list is Bisexuality and Transgenderism: Intersexions of the Other. It’s a textbook, so it’s expensive and hard to track down, but it is an important resource for people interested in the ways bisexual and transgender identities, movements and oppressions overlap and diverge. Because bisexuals are often erased in mainstream works about lesbian and gay people, bisexuals are creating our own texts, with many awesome results.
3. Donate to organizations that support bisexuals.
Although bisexual people make up a very large portion of the LGBT community, funding for bi-specific work makes up a small part of funding for LGBT programs. If you’ve got extra dollars floating around, put them toward the work of improving quality of life for bisexual people. National organizations like BiNet USA and Bisexual Resource Center are collecting resources, energizing communities and working directly with LGBT and mainstream leaders to promote bisexual causes and get information into the public. Find out if your local LGBT resource center provides bi-specific programming and give a donation marked for that program. Become an A+ member to help financially support the bisexuals who work at this website, and so you can read our staff emails where we finally explain bisexual orgasms (hint: they involve ghosts).
4. Engage with people online and in real life about bisexuality.
BiNet has a series of hashtags for the week to highlight different aspects of the bisexual movement, which you can find on their site. The hashtags so far — #bihistory and #bifacts — have provided some amazing insights and resources, so check them out on the twitters and contribute! There are also a ton of official events, like meetups, trainings and concerts, plus online activities like a Google Hangout with bisexual Christian heartthrob Eliel Cruz hosted by Campus Pride. If none of that is your bag, just paint your face blue, purple and pink and go to brunch.
5. Acknowledge and celebrate bisexuals and bisexuality.
It seems so simple, but it often doesn’t happen. Bisexuals are often an afterthought, lumped in with bigger headings like gay, queer and LGBT without being named as our own community with specific needs. Subtle changes to daily language — the simple act of naming bisexuality and actively including bisexual people and concerns in activism, policy language and service provision will make an impact. The fight is so much bigger than visibility, but reversing the damaging impact of erasure and silencing is an important first step toward caring for bisexual people and communities. Some people aren’t comfortable with using the term bisexual for themselves or as an umbrella term, and all these suggestions apply to people of many non-monosexual identities.
Bisexual Awareness Week is about more than awareness — it’s a chance to loudly declare our presence in the LGBT community and the world and work for the rights, respect and services that will keep us alive and help our community become healthy and vibrant.
I’m going to wear a spork as a necklace and sit on fences all day!
“I’m not sitting on the fence. Your fence is sitting on me.” Kinda incredible how hypocritical some gay folks can be. Don’t you realize we’re on the same side? If you don’t like dating bi people, we can accept that. No need to talk shit about our identity.
I suspect Rachel was joking – she IDs as bisexual in her AS profile :)
Oh good lookin out. I didn’t check. I’ve just been told that too many times, I guess. (Haven’t we all!?)
Sorry, I’m bi too, it was meant as a tongue in cheek sort of joke
Bisexual group deserves being respected as other people, and there are a lot work for us to improve the living conditions of bisexuals. Stand up with bisexual people!
Something weird going on with Figure 3. The numbers don’t seem to match up with the height of the bars.
Thanks for the shout, working on it!
Yes for homo/lesbi-flexible. I love those terms as descriptors and need to use them far more often. Defiantly going to check out the book recommendations.
Then I chose a good week to submit to my writing group the first chapter of my trashy, queer-y “Guys, you’ve got to be catching onto my bi-game by now” novel-in-the-works.
Now to pick out an outfit for the meeting. One that says “I’m greedy but also needy”.
All of these are great ways to celebrate! (As for myself, I’ll probably eat cake.) I would love to see more articles on directly addressing discrimination/general shittiness from within the LGBTQIA community.
I think the most depressing thing for me is when I enter into a space where I think I’ll feel safe, and I am immediately hit by comments like, “I’d never date a bi girl. It’s just too tough.” or “Gold Star Lesbians FOREVER!!”
I know what you mean! Woody Allen said we have double the dating options but that’s a load of crap when a big chunk of lesbians won’t date you. And then you get repeatedly propositioned by straight guys wanting threesomes :/
I’ve heard the same thing from the male side. Like “this space is for gold star gay men only!” and stuff like that.
Like this kind of cake?! I’d eat that.
Someone better at baking than me, make me this cake!
Oh hey, doing cupcakes would be easier.
Just get a white cake mix, follow the directions, then divide the batter into three bowls for the pink, blue and purple. Dip a fork or some toothpicks into your dye and swirl until the colours blend.
Get a spoon for each bowl and just layer each colour into a hole one spoonful at a time. Like (b.pp.pk) repeat with next cupcake hole. Then proceed with the baking like regular.
Gel dye works best
For me bisexual women are like surprise parties you go in a little confused but with the patience and kindness of their hearts they tell you are a dating option and there is cake ( in my experience anyway). Everyone is happy.
Hey girl, heeeeeeeeeeey!
I always carry cake with me for this reason.
I’m currently dating a bi woman who I was like “hey girl, hey(!!!!)” and she had some cupcakes. So I’m pretty sure a love connection was made because of cake.
You are doing all the things right.
Rock on my fellow bi queers!
Yes, more of this.
When i came out as gay i felt scared but super empowered and i never felt shame about my girlfriends. A few years later when i realised i was maybe bisexual/queer i felt completely impotent and to be honest it was more difficult than my initial coming out – a lot of “i knew you weren’t really gay”
since i started dating a guy I’ve disengaged from queer spaces online and in real life… i really want to be involved with my peoples but i feel like an outsider now
I feel you on that one. Since I’ve been with my current bf, it seems like I’m sometimes in a weird position (and not in the good way, ha ha). Fortunately, he’s a loving and supportive guy, but some other reactions I’ve gotten (from other queer women, sadly) have been kinda unfriendly.
See stories like your’s need to be told! We can’t change things if no one but us know what we go through. And cake. I want some too please :)
*sings* “It’s Bi Day, Bi Day, gotta get down on Bi Day…”
So grateful for the fact that I knew AutoStraddle would have something up for Bi Visibility Day/Bisexual Awareness Week, I wasn’t event worried about it. I can always count on AutoStraddle to remember all their readers.
Likewise, it’s an honor to write for a community of readers who trust, celebrate and love their bi members :)
Totally! It’s also a much friendlier environment for bi women than pretty much every other site for LGBTQ+ women, and I am very thankful for that. <3
YAAAASSSSS THANK YOU AUTOSTRADDLE, the ONLY place in my life where this day has been recognised/celebrated despite the fact that I work at an LGBTIQA+ legal centre and 99% of my friends are of the rainbow variety. I knew I could count on you <3
I’m so into that umbrella y’all. I can’t think of any umbrella jokes that aren’t super cringe-worthy though, so I’m just going to say I think that umbrella is SUPER important. :D
My furiend (cat puns are always relefurnt) pussted this on her wall and I was like “haaaaaaa this is the best”, and she replied “tbh, I kind of pussted this just fur you” – I feel spusscial :D
Thank you so much for this. It really helps to know you’re all out there, and that Autostraddle is here for us too.
I’m a bi-queer babe who wants to celebrate by inviting all of my queer / bi / poly / gay / les friends over to celebrate [my] bi visibility by having a sexy sleepover where we can all swap stories & spit & secrets. . .
but I’ll likely just post something on my blog instead. /womp womp
That sounds magical! I’ve never been to a sleepover before. I probably sound like a sad panda that’s been living under a rock. :P
The comments section gave me life!
As a teen/young woman (14 – 18), I always felt like the LGBT support groups and associations were off limits for me. I had never experienced with the same sex, and even though I was pretty certain my levels of gayness were superior to most people’s, I had nothing to prove it to anybody. Not even to myself.
I remember standing near the rainbow door, reading the cheerful invitation to come in. Something along the lines of “A place without judgement”. I remember that the people inside the room had colorful hairstyles, and they always seemed like talkative, good folks.
And I would act like I was just reading the ads pinned next to the door.
I never walked in.
I’m 24 now, and bisexuality is still a lonely place to be, especially since I’m in a commited relationship with a straight man.
Autostraddle is my safe space, but sometimes, the real world feels like it’s just not glittery and unicorny enough for me.
I want the “B umbrella” youth to never fear walking through the door like I did.
Lol wait, 25 going on 26. I must be old, if I’m already forgetting important shit like my actual age.
Oh lady, me too! I never felt I had a right to that community when I was in a straight monogamous relationship, and it sucked. Honestly, even with as inclusive as autostraddle is, I still feel like a bit of an impostor reading here sometimes.
A lesbian friend/ally on my Bisexual Visibility Facebook group page suggested Autostraddle for this very reason. I’m so glad I listened to her!
Gurrrrl, I feel this so much that I literally signed up for an account just so I could reply. As a 26 year-old cis female who is also in a committed heterosexual relationship with a cis male, bisexuality is a weird territory to navigate. I agree that, at times, it is very lonely. To get side eye from people are Queer-friendly meet ups hurts a lot. But, I’m trying to be a better advocate for myself, and have my actions and involvement in promoting queer and female artists speak to my dedication to the LGBTQ communities. Sometimes, proving people wrong is the best course of action!
This reminds me when I was just out of a long-term relationship with a guy and saw an ad for an EU-wide LGBT survey on a queer dating site. I tried to answer, and one of the screening questions was “with whom have you had sex during the last year” or so. I answered I had had sex with a man, and it didn’t let me finish the survey because, according to them, I was not part of their target population. Ugh ugh ugh. Still pisses me off.
Ironically, the survey was covering LGBT discrimination. I bet a lot of bisexuals (and recently out gay people) were left out…
You know what made my day? Show this headline and picture to my 17-yo daughter, watching her break into a grin, and hearing her say that seeing this made her day.
Happy Bisexual Awareness Week! Really happy to be part of a website that values all queer women, after I’ve been excluded from so many communities that didn’t.
I’m Bi and didn’t even know this existed! Thanks so much for the reading recommendations :)
hmm, i tend to be very against any label as an umbrella term, because of course, not everyone you’re throwing under there is going to be thrilled with it, but otherwise i’m really happy with this post!! i switched from identifying as “uhhh….queer?? i like girls. and i like not-girls. boys are gross” to bi and i’m really comfy and happy in that part of who i am. this site has probably played a really big part in that with how much bi stuff there is on here!!
I texted my brother and said “So it’s bisexual awareness week. I don’t know what you guys are plotting, but I’ve got my eye on you.”
I didn’t know it was BiWeek until today, and I must admit I feel a bit cheated out of Sunday and Monday.
I’m trying to put together a documentary on Bisexual Invisibly. I think the right, moving documentary (like Bridegroom was) would bring National attention to this issue. But I need people’s story’s and (quite frankly) help. I need filmmakers and experts. Okay, so aside from the writing. ..I need everything. I’m just one voice…a single, working, bisexual mom (with a flair for writing) that wants to make a difference. Who’s with me?
I’m finally getting around to reading Shiri Eisner’s book just in time! Also, in honor of the week, everyone should read some Erika Moen comics: http://www.erikamoen.com/ Reading her comic DAR was one of the first times I saw my bi/queer self reflected elsewhere. I owe her comics so much <3 <3
There are some great queer male artists who are a lot like Erika Moen when it comes to identifying and living too. Visibility oh yeah! :-D
Yay fellow bis!
Just wanted to recommend some of my fav books with non-monosexual characters. I find it really hard to tell if a character is going to be bi and often even if their behaviour or identity in the book is, the blurb will still call them gay or straight. Very frustrating!
Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney
With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn edited by Amber Dawn
Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica
My Education by Susan Choi
The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
Love Cake by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Adaptation by Malinda Lo
Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women edited by Candace Walsh
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
Thanks for this list! I will look into these.
Does My Education get better after the first couple chapters? I read the free sample preview and got turned off by the student/professor affair. Borrrrring.
I read We Are Water by Wally Lamb earlier this year, and the main character is bi. She does use the B word at times, but I recall the L word was used more often. Still it was good, though possibly a bit triggery.
Hmm that depends on what you mean by student/professor affair. The book sets you up to think she’s going to fall in love with the male prof, but it’s actually his wife that she has the relationship with. I also loved the writing style, but I can see how it wouldn’t be other people’s thing. That’s the same throughout. Also, I listened to the audiobook, which probably changes my experience!
Er, so, I’m finally de-lurking just to say how much I appreciate this post. My ladyfriend sent me a text saying “I just found out it’s bisexual awareness week!” and said she was celebrating me, which made me smile pretty big. Which made me search for Bisexual Awareness Week, which naturally led me here. That combined with Autostraddle support is helping this week to be full of awesomesauce.
Hey, thanks for being here. It’s hard to talk about this, especially as a guy, because I was raised to believe that I don’t exist as a bi guy. But I kind of know that I do. Sorry. It’s a strange thing to try and balance in your mind. Anyway, I’m really glad to get this chance. Great website. Keep up the good work.
Bi guys definitely have a harder time. I did a survey in college for my Writing for Social Change class and something like 87%, of those questioned, didn’t believe that men could be bisexual. Just shows how clueless 87% of the college population is
iamronni, I REALLY hope that you told everyone questioned how wrong they were and that there are just as many bi guys in the world as well. Right?
Oh I did! I’ve gotten in some heated arguments over it. My 19 year old son is bi. I had one argument in a comment thread where the guy was saying that bi men didn’t exist because he had used bi as a stepping stone to coming out as gay (and had always actually been gay) and that because it was HIS reality…it must be everyone’s reality. I told him that that would be no different than saying that homosexuality doesn’t exist because someone who went through conversion therapy and claimed to be “cured” and that they were never “really” homosexual…was their reality. Shut him right up.
And also, did they ever explain WHY exactly they thought bisexual men don’t exist, (but I’m guessing they think women do, right). What is up with that?
Sorry, don’t mean to keep replying so much but I keep forgetting things. It’s also ridiculous that those students would think that way because, don’t they realize that bisexuality is a HUMAN sexuality? Just look up the definition in any dictionary and it will say that it’s when PEOPLE are attracted to both genders/sexes. ANY living, breathing, sentient being can be born with any sexual orientation since orientation is only for sentient beings. So every orientation in existence can be apart of ANY sentient being no matter the gender. And especially if one is a human being. If you are human being you can be born with ANY sexual preference. Why are some people so dumb to not realize that?!
You are preaching to the choir sister! And even after all of my research, surveys, and my presentation… No one could logically explain that view to me. It was all “well that was how it was for me so that’s how it IS”, etc. :/
Hey Kevin, I hope you will check out some of the resources in the article! And: Today, bisexual activist Robyn Ochs has a new book out called Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men that looks really great. Also, a bi guy named RJ has been tearing it up on YouTube:
Oh Kevin, there are just as many bi guys as there are bi women! (and just as many fluid men as there are women, and just as many not fluid, completely gay or straight men as there are completely gay or straight women!) You are not alone my darling! Welcome aboard. :-D
Thanks — much appreciated. It’s funny how being validated does make you feel better, even if you tell yourself you don’t need any validation.
Came out to someone at work yesterday…. boooo yaaa. I’m not as out in my work as I’d like to be. I said oh hey, I date women as well as men and she said “ain’t nothing wrong with that.” To think I’d been nervous. Then I thought, I should come out to a different person each day this week in honor of bisexual awareness week. But then I forgot today. Guess it’s not too late to email my grandma. (J/k! I’m not even out to all of my extended family and common opinion among those I am out to about telling her “it’s not worth it.” I mean, there was a time she thought playing with face-cards was evil, so…)
Congrats!! I’m not out at work. I mean I wear two rainbow bracelets and one says “bi bi boys”… but I haven’t come out. They are all Mormon and I don’t think I’d get the response you did… and I’m still on probation :p. Lol. And it’s understandable not coming out to your grandma. I’m out to everyone but one of my sisters and her husband. They are REALLY Right Wing. I get where you’re coming from.
This is fantastic and I love it! As an out and proud bi person, this is most certainly wonderful to see some visibility. And since Autostraddle is a site for queer women, that’s why you only have the charts for lesbian, bi and straight women who struggle right? Because at first I thought, “but what about gay, bi and straight men who struggle too? And then…… oh yeah! lol. Also the bisexual umbrella chart was great but kind of disappointing at the same time. It would have been great to include more definitions for men as well. I mean I know there are some, like for “homofleixble and lesbiflexible”, but what about others like “bifa” “bifag” or “bisexual-gay” all described about fluid/queer men. That would have been great too. :-)
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