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Bisexual Erasure (Pride Month)

Happy Pride! Since today is bisexual day, I wanted to talk about something important to me. I hope you'll listen with open ears, mind, and heart. Thank you. 

I’ve seen this happening for years now. People will say things like, “it’s a phase” or “pick a side.” I’ve even seen some say that bisexual people only like cisgender men and women and exclude all other genders. Which isn’t always the case. Sure, some bisexual people feel that way, which is why pansexual and other names came into play. But at its core, being bisexual just means that you’re attracted to more than just one gender. 

I’ve never hidden on this blog the fact that I’m bisexual but I rarely talk about the struggles I feel because it just never felt right when you have gay people that have to hide their complete selves for fear of what the world could do to them. 

Or trans people who spend every day trapped in the wrong body and can’t tell anyone to get the things they need to be their truth selves. 

Put against issues like that... I always felt bisexuals had it easy. But it’s difficult, sure, we can mask ourselves sometimes. Right now, my partner is a man. No one has to know that I actually prefer woman to men. In fact, his grandma and step grandfather can’t know the truth because they would disown him. My partner’s grandfather is very homophobic, so much so, that he kicked out his own gay son and has had nothing to do with him in over 20 years. He kicked his son outta his house and only talks about how ‘nasty’ he is. 

My family never gave a crap about what my sexuality was. I was very lucky in that regard. I didn’t actually understand what it was like to have someone hate you just because of how you were born until I met my partner’s family. 

It’s the worst feeling in the world when every time you turn around you’re called horrible names and treated less than human for doing nothing wrong. 

This got me thinking, and I started doing research. Turns out, bisexuals get a lot of hate from both sides. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community think that since we can hide ourselves that we have it easy. Yes, there is a privilege to being able to hide, but it’s very hard to only be half of yourself all the time. You’re always part way, lying to yourself and everyone around. There’s also the fact that I know my future father-in-law only treats me nicely because he doesn’t know I’m one of those ‘nasty’ people he hates so much. 

Not to mention that people assume I’m straight because I’m with a guy. Even when I had a girlfriend, everyone thought I was a lesbian. I’ve had people assume that I have to be cheating on my partner with someone else also because I’m bi and have to have more than one partner to make me happy. Bisexuals are often treated like they are promiscuous cheaters.

Or people often look over bisexuals completely. 

With leads to bisexual erasure. What is bisexual erasure and why is it concerning?

"Bisexual erasure is a form of stigma. And stigma is bad for health, just to put it in a nutshell," Beach says.

That goes for both mental and physical health. A 2017 study published in The Journal of Sex Research showed that bisexual people have higher rates of anxiety and depression than straight, lesbian, or gay people. The researchers determined that bisexual invisibility and erasure was one of the key potential contributors to those mental health disparities.

If bisexual erasure is itself erased, the isolation that many bisexual people experience can be reduced, lowering rates of mental health issues like depression. "[Bisexual people] are not coming out; they're not getting support for the stigma that they face every day," Beach explains. "And there's been associations of some of [these mental health diagnoses] with poverty and other structural level social determinants of health, and so it's important to help to fight back against bisexual erasure."

The Human Rights Campaign reports that bisexual people also face poorer health outcomes. Compared to straight people, bisexual individuals are more likely to have high cholesterol and asthma and are also more likely to smoke or drink alcohol. Bisexual women also have higher rates of heart disease and obesity as opposed to straight women. The disparities are even more layered for transgender people and people of color who identify as bisexual, because they potentially have to navigate transphobia and/or racism as well.

Some of these disparities bisexual individuals face may stem from a lack of preventative care. According to the American Cancer Society, bisexual women receive routine health care, including breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer screening tests, less frequently than other women. As GLAAD puts it: "bisexual erasure plays a critical role in reducing the community's visibility and, in turn, reducing access to the resources and support opportunities bisexual people so desperately need." - Health

According to GLAAD, bisexuals have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders compared to gays, lesbians and heterosexuals. The Office for National Statistics has found that bisexual woman are twice as likely as their straight counterparts to experience domestic abuse from a partner. While bisexual men are disproportionally affected by HIV and STIs, according to a study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine – many have blamed biphobia and the stigma against bisexual men, as many bisexual men are too ashamed to seek out proper healthcare. 

Further studies have found that 37.3 percent of bisexual adults have reported experiencing depression, compared to 17.2 percent of heterosexual adults. While according to the Pew Research Center, Only 28% of bi or pan people ever feel safe enough to come out to their friends and family. Human Rights Campaign have found that bisexual people face "minority stress," and are more likely to engage in self-harming behaviours and attempted suicide than gay, lesbian, or heterosexual adults. This correlates with a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which has found that bisexual and questioning females are at a higher risk of depression or suicide than any other sexual denomination. - mygwork

I won't lie, I feel very much alone in my sexuality. This quote is how I feel all the time; “Identifying as bisexual often feels like you're stuck in limbo — not “gay” enough for some, and not “straight” enough for others,” -  Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro

Of course like every other member of the LGBTQ+ community, all this damage can be corrected, if we simply accept people for who they are and stop assuming terrible things about them. At the end of the day, we're all just humans and deserve to be treated as such. 

So no matter your gender, your sexuality, I just want to say that I accept you and no matter what anyone says, you're perfect, just as you are. Fly free, little butterfly. Don't let anyone clip your wings. 

The problems bisexuals face are too dangerous to continue being ignored by the LGBT+ community. If you dismiss a bisexual person as simply going through a phase, not being truthful, after attention, or just being promiscuous then you are part of the problem. Bisexuals make up most of our community and their plight is the same as ours. Standing together and acknowledging the disproportionate mental health issues and discrimination they face, as well as the biphobia within our own community will only strengthen us. Besides, with more young people identifying as queer than ever before, bi-erasure might rapidly become a thing of the past. - mygwork

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