Today, September 23, is Bi Visibility Day - also known as International Celebrate Bisexuality Day. Below, Liam Bale (pictured) - an alumni from the Stonewall Young Leaders program - writes exclusively for Attitude about his experiences as a bisexual man.
Bisexual. The ‘stepping stone’. The ‘not quite gay yet’. The ‘greedy one’. Or maybe, just all those individuals falling anywhere between the two ends of the sexuality spectrum. For me, bisexuality isn’t one thing. It’s many things, it’s many people, it’s lots of unique experiences. Here’s a little bit about mine…
I used to find it difficult to find my place on the spectrum, and it can be even harder to express this identity to others. Often, people just want to categorise your sexuality into something they already know, most often ‘straight’ or ‘gay’. Bi erasure is a common problem I face, along with most of the bisexual community. If I mentioned that I had a boyfriend to somebody new, they’d often make the assumption that I was gay, without even considering the possibility that I could be bi. Equally if I didn’t mention anything, people would probably assume that I was straight. Well, at least until they saw me dancing… Coming out to people in general can be difficult, it’s even harder to then go further and explain your sexual identity as a bisexual person.
These conversations about sexual identity aren’t always easy, but I do try to have them as often as possible to explore the concept with other people so that they can share my experiences and hopefully learn from them. Here’s a quick resume of the most common discussion points:
If you’re in a relationship with a woman, are you straight again?
You have a boyfriend now though, so you’re gay right?
So, are you completely half and half?
Answers: No, No, No.
Sometimes questions are asked in jest, and can be laughed off. Other times, the seriousness with which they are asked can be quite worrying. Here is when I make the most effort to explain my situation and try to help the other person better understand bisexuality.
In recent times, there have been more and more celebrities that have spoken out about bisexuality, the sexuality spectrum and also about the fluidity of sexuality for different people. Musicians have been able to share experiences both within their music and in general. Sia, Lady Gaga and Frank Ocean are some of the few celebrities that have shared their experiences of love. More recently Miley Cyrus shared that she identified as pansexual. This exposure has led to an increase in discussion and awareness of the bisexual community. There’s still a long way to go, but progress is being made. People are starting to realise that sexuality isn’t just black or white, straight or gay. There’s a fabulous rainbow of sexual identities bridging the two. I hope that this momentum of exposure continues so that people can better understand what it truly means to be bisexual.
From experience, I know that bisexual feelings are very real, they can be difficult to understand, and even harder to express. But open, honest and supportive conversations are what’s needed to allow others to better understand bisexuality and to allow bisexual people to better understand themselves.
Go out, meet a bisexual person, take us out for dinner. But be careful, we’ve been known to be greedy…
info: Celebrate Bi Visibility Day and share your story using the #BiVisibilityDay Twitter hashtag or visiting the Bi Visibility Day Facebook page. For further information and resources visit The Bisexual Index or BiUK.org.
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