White House Will Talk About Bisexual Issues For The First Time Ever

In exciting news for bisexuals, pansexuals, queermos and other in-betweenmos all across the USA, White House Public Engagement Advisor/LGBT liasion Gautam Raghavan has announced that on September 23, a roundtable discussion will be held surrounding bisexual issues in America.  This meeting will take place behind closed doors in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, and Raghavan has written that “participants and administration officials will discuss a range of topics including health, HIV/AIDS, domestic and intimate partner violence, mental health, and bullying.”

Information surrounding the discussion is limited, but Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign has announced that the HRC will be present and participating.  He added: “It’s a testament to this administration that they are focusing on all elements of the LGBT community and they should be applauded for hosting an event focused on some of the specific issues impacting bisexual people.”

hey thanks guys.

image via Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

This discussion will be the first time this administration or frankly any administration has acknowledged the myriad issues affecting bisexual Americans.  While it is often assumed that non-monosexuals are easily assimilated into LGBTQ culture and deal with similar struggles, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s 2011 report Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations paints a very different picture.  According to their research, bisexuals were statistically more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, hypertension, complications from smoking, alcoholism and other mood or anxiety disorders, and poor health in general.  They were also more likely to live in poverty, less likely to have access to health care and quite significantly more likely to commit or seriously consider suicide than their straight, gay or lesbian counterparts.  The report attributes many of these findings to non-monosexual individuals feeling invisible or isolated, that their sexual orientation is considered immoral, invalid or “just a phase.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that in a sample group of nearly 1,000 women, 61% of bisexual women reported some incident of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, compared with about 43% of lesbian women and 35% of heterosexual women.  The research also found that bisexual women were statistically more likely to be raped or subject to unwanted sexual contact regardless of relationship status, and also more likely to report that the incident(s) had affected their lives in a negative way. While this of course does not mean that the stigma and oppression faced by bisexuals are “worse” than that experienced by gays, lesbians or any other group, the data clearly points to the conclusion that the issues experienced by bisexuals are unique and distinct, and that investigating their solutions requires treating them as such.

Oftentimes it’s a challenge for bisexuals to simply have their identities perceived as valid, and our government’s acknowledgement that we are a real community with unique challenges is a huge step towards eradicating that misconception. It seems highly unlikely that this White House conference will immediately impact these very real concerns for the bisexual community, and it doesn’t bode particularly well that the HRC is the only group confirmed to be attending given that the HRC doesn’t have a history of specifically addressing or representing bisexual people or issues. But the fact that a meeting is taking place at all is enormous and exciting progress.

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Stef Schwartz is a founding member and the self-appointed Vapid Fluff Editor at Autostraddle.com. She currently resides in New York City, where she spends her days writing songs nobody will ever hear and her nights telling much more successful musicians what to do. Follow her on twitter and/or instagram.

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  1. This is exciting indeed! Let’s see what comes out of it. Thank you for talking about this, Stef! <3

  2. OK but when do I get my invitation in the mail to this “behind closed doors” very special event/birthday party? I need to tell the President about my non-monosexual, very complicated Feelings. Maybe he could help with an Executive Order.

    • I think it’ll come by owl post, since obviously this party is magical! I’m hoping it includes confetti and/or glitter.

  3. This was a tummy-rubbing bright patch in my evening, getting more sunny by the sentence. My excitement was almost libidinal. Until right at the end, that is, when “HRC” jumped out of the screen like a blood-soaked, power tool-wielding clown and harshed me back down to Babylon.

  4. It’s sad, but I’m SO used to feeling invisible and like an afterthought to the L and G in the queer alphabet that I can’t quite believe this is real.

    • I mean, I’m not saying it’s not real, of course. I’m saying that this is blowing my tiny little invisible bisexual mind.

      • That’s ok, hope it felt good. I think we deserve to have conversations about all the stuff this article covers, there’s probably even more we don’t know (but the government might).

      • I feel ya–my thought process imploded into a few minutes of “Is this…real life?” when I saw the headline. Still amazed that this is happening AT ALL, but so so happy the question is even on the table.

  5. Wow, I never thought I’d see the day. My past 19 year old self is jumping for joy, but my current jaded self is cautiously optimistic. Very cautiously.

  6. Just a minor thing (because I used to be guilty of this myself):
    The term “non-monosexual” technically also applies to asexuals. So if the article is not going to specifically include asexual issues as well, it’ll be better to use the term “plurisexual”. Otherwise it is erasure of aces. In addition it solves the problem of how to not refer to bi/pan/omni/fluid/flexible/queer/nolabel identities only in relation to monsexuality.

    And while I am super happy, that bi things are happening, I am also worried, that it is HRC of all organizations they choose to consult. Why not BiNet USA or any of the other awesome bi organizations?

    • Question: Is polysexual an acceptable alternative to non-monosexual? I’ve heard it (and have used it) being used as an umbrella for non-heterosexual and non-homosexual individuals. That’s really good to point out the unintentional inclusion of aces. *mental note*

    • yo, thanks for the heads up, i really appreciate any and all alternatives to using the word ‘bisexual’ in every single sentence to talk about the same group of people (especially those who don’t use that word to identify themselves)… so much terminology to work with, and so few words that actually work as umbrella terms.

    • A needed distinction red she said…off-teh-record is supposed to mean no comment from any orgs…so even Binet, Bireource.net etc might not be able to publicly say squat. Leaving HRC to take credit! ’cause that could happen…

  7. bisexual talk? sound so easy yet so hard. that is why some people just prefer not to be labeled. once you attach that label in your life, you have a reputation of some sort to abide. some people just doesn’t want to have to explain it every single time. bisexuality is visible everywhere but it’s not a very popular word.

    • But that is also the reason why some choose the big, bad BI label – because they are suborn, radical, vocal bad asses who love their label, bi politics, and the awesome people involved :D

      (And sometimes it is even fun to scare the living shit out of ignorant people.)

    • Yep, I feel that. I am bisexual, but I typically identify as queer. Not that queer is necessarily easier, but people don’t tend to have a bunch of preconceived notions so they get confused long enough for me to run away if I don’t want to talk about it.

  8. fuck yeah! after hearing the other super depressing stats you’ve been telling me about, this is so ridiculously good to hear. I just hope the conversation leads to actual positive action.

  9. I saw this in my FB feed somewhere earlier today and it took a few hours for me to fully realize. Like in the back of my head I thought you guys were being snarky because WHOA totally unexpected but awesome turn of events. Turns out y’all weren’t just fooling around with my tiny queer heart.

  10. As happy as I am that the US government is recognizing that my sexuality is A Thing, I’m still going to treat this with extreme caution until I see that Real Live Bisexuals actually are going to have a voice in this, and not just the HRC. And that the government actually listens for a hot second.

  11. As a friend of mine said, the only reason we can see for HRC to be at a meeting of bisexuals is to apologize. That’s like inviting the fox to a meeting to discuss what the hens need. For decades, HRC has used us as volunteers, and taken our money, and done nothing for us, despite tireless efforts by bi leaders to get them to work with us. Indeed, a recent rating of major LGBT organizations on bi issues gave them an F:


    Not only that, at a Marriage Equality rally in New York an HRC staffer harrassed a bisexual transman, who had previously experienced a hate crime, just for carrying a flag. HRC needs to respecrfully listen and learn at this meeting, and figure out what they can do to atone.

  12. Looking forward to the Onion’s follow up, with the tagline, “Also, for the last time ever.”

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