It’s Time To Talk About Biphobia
Biphobia is the prejudice against bisexual and pansexual individuals, and whilst this may exist amongst the heterosexuals it’s also very common within the LGBTQ+ community itself. Bisexuality, pansexuality and general sexual fluidity is nothing new, with some even going as far to say that no one is actually 100% straight and everyone is somewhat flexible, according to studies undertaken by Cornell University.
However in spite of it being a well-known orientation, it’s often not acknowledged as a legitimate sexuality and bisexuals are often subjected to criticism from straight and other queer individuals. It is this prejudice that needs to recognised and tackled in order to give the bisexual and pansexual community the visibility they deserve and to prevent further segregation within the LGBTQ+ community, as to be separated is the last thing we need if we are to continue fighting for sexual equality.
Biphobia is a subject that is often ignored within public discourse, however it’s a very real issue that touches the majority of bisexual and pansexual individuals. Studies show that around 60% of bisexuals have heard biphobic jokes in the work place, and nearly half of bisexual people have received biphobic comments when interacting with health care providers.
Bisexuals have higher suicide rates than other LGBTQ+ community members, as well as the highest prevalence of PTSD
Furthermore, bisexuals have higher suicide rates than other LGBTQ+ community members, as well as the highest prevalence of PTSD. Sexuality counsellors have stated that there is a lack of bisexual role models and representation, and it is often thought that the “B” in LGBTQ+ is not equal to “L” and “G”.
A lot of people regard Brighton as one of the most queer friendly cities in the UK, and perhaps even the world, so it might be thought that biphobia is not an issue in the local area. However, it is still prevalent even in such a tolerant area, and it affects many students here at Sussex.
When conversing with Sussex students, who shall remain anonymous, it was found that biphobia takes multiple forms, and affects the daily lives of many.
One male bisexual student said, ‘bisexual men have it tough from both sides. If I have a girlfriend I’m ‘“too straight” to be considered queer, and if I have a boyfriend people say I’m “secretly gay”. Only one of my family members knows I’m bisexual, and they want to keep it a secret.
Despite my sexuality, they’re still hoping I end up with a girl so I won’t disgrace the family by marrying a guy. Nothing would be as shocking for my grandparents as seeing two guys marry each other and kissing in front of everyone. When it comes to straight people, lips are just lips. But when it comes to gay couples, a kiss becomes a weapon of transgression: perverse and wrong.”
Whilst many experience biphobia from family members, others receive biphobic comments from friends, and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Another student said, “I often feel like I’ve experienced the most biphobia from within the LGBTQ+ community itself. My flatmate last year insisted I was gay because I’m a woman who has only ever been with women in the past. I would explain to her that my relationship history doesn’t matter since I’ve done the soul searching every LGBTQ+ person has done and I know I would be happy with a man.
I have always heard that stereotypical “it’s probably just a phase, you’ll settle down soon” which can be very disheartening
I think it’s paramount to the LGBTQ+ community that we always strive for intersectionality, and base our solidarity in the things we have in common without erasing the experiences of bisexual and pansexual people in the process.”
I think it’s paramount to the LGBTQ+ community that we always strive for intersectionality, and base our solidarity in the things we have in common
Biphobia may also be indirect and may come in the form of passive comments or online biphobia; another Sussex student said, “I’ve been quite fortunate in having very accepting friends throughout my life. However, I have always heard that stereotypical “it’s probably just a phase, you’ll settle down soon” which can be very disheartening.
Biphobia is everywhere on social media as well; there’s always “gay rights” movements and arguments for more gay representation but no one fights for the rights of bi people. We disappear into the background because we can “pass as being straight”, so we don’t get to be included.”
I have also experienced biphobia first hand. I identify as pansexual, but when I first realised that I wasn’t straight I automatically assumed I was a lesbian, as my whole life I had been told by society that bisexuality was just a phase; I had been taught to believe that there were only two options when it came to sexuality.
Now I have a greater understanding of the fluidity of sexuality and I’ve learnt that for me, gender doesn’t affect who I’m attracted to at all and I don’t believe it ever will. I have experienced prejudice in that I’ve found many don’t take my sexuality seriously, but I’ve ultimately found that I’m now more comfortable with my identity than I ever have been before, and now I can appreciate that it’s not necessary to “pick a side,” because love and attraction doesn’t have to be confined by your or anybody else’s gender.
It is evident that bisexuals and pansexuals receive prejudice on a regular basis, and I think one of the most common causes of biphobia is the misconceptions that so many have about bisexuality. It is often thought that being the “B” in LGBTQ+ is not enough to constitute queerness, and eventually bisexuals will realise they are either gay or straight.
In recent years, more awareness has been raised about biphobia and many celebrities have spoken out about the validity of their own bi/pansexuality. It’s essential that biphobia is tackled, not just for bisexuals but for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole because we are stronger when we are all united. Prejudice within the community is not what we need, when we already face so much prejudice from others.
It is often thought that being the ‘B’ in LGBTQ+ is not enough to constitute queerness, and eventually bisexuals will realise they are either gay or straight
Also, the queer community has always prided itself on spreading values of tolerance and acceptance, so it’s about time those values are put into practise and the community begins to accept those of all sexualities.
Through education and increased bisexual visibility, it can be understood that bisexuality is legitimate, and then hopefully one day the bisexual and pansexual community will no longer be excluded from the LGBTQ+ community, and will receive the recognition that they have been denied for so long.