Queer Enough — Bisexual Visibility Day
I love being bisexual. My queer identity is central to who I am as an individual, an activist, and a nerd. I clearly remember being 11 years old, draped in dark clothes and carrying a load of YA books, talking to my friends about how everyone was really bisexual. I thought some people were just too afraid to admit it. Obviously that’s not accurate, but as an anecdote it helps me explain how sure I was at a young age of my sexuality and its validity.
Unfortunately, not everyone believes that bisexuality is a valid identity. Bisexual erasure and biphobia are present in both queer and straight communities. But — today isn’t the day for that. It’s for us bisexuals to be visible and proud of who we are!
So — Let’s Talk About Bisexuality
Bisexuality is a sexual identity that refers to people who are attracted to two or more genders. Some bisexual folks identify as being attracted to men and women. Some bisexual folks identify as being attracted to their own gender and one or more other genders (such as non-binary folks). Other bisexual folks use the term as an umbrella term for non-monosexuality (monosexuality meaning attracted to just one gender) or polysexuality (meaning attracted to multiple genders). One of the great things about identity is that you get to define yours.
Let’s Talk About Bisexual Erasure
Bisexual erasure is when the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality is questioned or completely denied. This is a larger cultural issue, with pop culture depicting only gay or straight characters and mainstream media rarely (if ever) talking about bisexuality. It’s also a personal issue, with an individual’s bisexuality being questioned by being told they have to “choose one gender” or that they are simply lying about their sexuality. Bisexual folks are also pressured to identify with a monosexuality when they are dating different people. So, if you’re with someone of the same gender you should identify as gay and if you’re with someone of a gender different than yours you should identify as straight. If you’re dating someone who’s nonbinary…well, people don’t really know what to call you.
This erasure of bisexuality stems from a lot of places, including a desire to simplify complex issues and identities. However, to many bisexual folks this erasure can manifest into self hate and a feeling of isolation from multiple communities.
Let’s Talk About Bisexual Erasure in Queer Spaces
Attending Pride events, or frequenting LGBTQ spaces, can be a difficult situation to navigate when you’re in a “straight-passing” relationship. For many people, including myself, it can make going to queer spaces an anxiety-ridden experience (though, most of my experiences are full of anxiety). When I hear someone say that “straight couples shouldn’t be at Pride,” my first thought is how do they know who’s straight?? While I’m known to wear an Everyone Is Gay shirt on occasion, looks are not a conclusive way to tell if someone is queer. Likewise, being in a relationship with straight people does not in any way, shape, or form make a person less bisexual. Bisexuals are still bisexual no matter who they are dating. Bisexuals are still bisexual even when they’re not dating anyone. Sexuality is not defined by relationships or experience.
Further, when people “evaluate” the queerness of a couple, there is a major possibility that they are misgendering someone. Both my partner and myself are nonbinary, which can lead to unfortunately unpleasant situations. Worrying about being gay enough, about being trans enough, about being nonbinary enough, about being good enough can be overwhelming. It’s unfair and it shouldn’t be commonplace at Pride or any queer normative event or space.
Bisexuals, pansexuals, and queer folk are all a part of the LGBTQ community. The recognized organizer of the first Pride march, Brenda Howard, was a badass bisexual! I know that biphobia won’t disappear overnight; however, I’m not going to let it overwhelm me. I know who I am and that my identity is valid. I hope you do, too!
Being Out and Proud
I often use the term “queer” to define my sexuality — it encompasses my whole queer self. However, when talking to people outside of the LGBTQ community I say I’m bisexual. I think it’s important to let people know that bisexual people exist! I’m here, I’m queer. I’m bi, come say hi.
I am lucky to have a great community of queer folks to support me. I am so grateful for my friends at the HPA, who are endlessly supportive and affirming. I’m fortunate to have an amazing A-Camp family who I got to spend 5 enormously queer days with this year at camp. And every day my social media feeds are filled with amazing queer folks living their best lives and it gives me so much strength, even when faced with biphobia.
To anyone who has struggled with identifying as bisexual because of fear of being questioned or, worse yet, not believed, remember: You are valid! You get to define yourself, your identity, your sexuality. You are absolutely queer enough. I hope today you get to be visible and proud of who you are!
Here are some of my favorite bisexual/queer nerds:
Amanda is a writer, feminist, and hardworking Hufflepuff. They are the Fandom Forward Project Leader at the Harry Potter Alliance and Operations Director at a nonprofit arthouse theater. Catch them on twitter at @amandandwords.