Thursday 22-09-2016 - 14:46
This is a joint blog from Melantha Chittenden, LGBT+ Officer (Womens Place) & Taylor Eagles, Bi rep on the National LGBT+ Committee.
This year Bi+ awareness week takes place between the 19 and 26 September 2016, with Bi visibility day on the 23 September. But what is bi+ awareness week for and why should we should we mark Bi visibility day?
Have you decided if you are gay or straight yet?
Which gender do you prefer? If you had to pick?
Don’t you think you’re just being greedy?
These are questions the Bi+ community is subjected to regularly. For some reason people find it hard to grasp that you can be attracted to more than one gender. The B is as vital a bit of LGBT+, as any other part of the acronym, in fact bisexual defining people make up more than 50% of the LGBT+ community. Despite this; Biphobia and Bi-erasure, remains a prominent issue outside of the LGBT+ community as well as within it. To the straight community we’re not straight enough and to the LGBT+ community we’re just not gay enough.
The biphobia that comes from within LGBT+ spaces is even more surprising as it comes from this community that has fought incredibly hard to break free from heteronormative structures and boxes, only to create homonormative structures and boxes for others.
Biphobia, wherever it comes from, has severe consequences for our community.
Bisexual women face a disproportionate risk of domestic violence. With 75% of bisexual women having had violent partners in comparison to 46% of lesbian women and 43% of straight women. If reports of recent events with Amber Heard, ex-wife of Johnny Depp are true, it’s a clear illustration that not only are we more at risk of domestic violence but our sexuality is often portrayed as a reason to excuse this abuse.
The bisexual community as a whole is at an elevated risk of substance abuse, mental health problems and suicide.
That’s what makes bisexuality visibility day so important, we won’t be able to truly fix these problems affecting our community if we are a silent and invisible majority. We simply aren’t yet in a place where we can be quiet about our existence. Bisexual visibility day is about giving our community a voice, a day we come together to say loudly and proudly that we are bisexual and that we really do exist.
As well as challenging biphobia and the impact this has on our community, bisexuality visibility day is also a celebration. It’s a celebration of the diversity of the LGBT+ community, but more than that it’s a celebration of our bisexual community.
The bisexual community has come to encompass a wide range of sexualities such as pansexual and queer people. Bisexual has become an umbrella term for people who simply don’t love one specific group. Most impressive of all, we’ve empowered ourselves to define bisexuality on our own terms. Bisexual now means more than simply attraction to two binary gender identities. Robyn Ochs described what bisexuality has come to mean perfectly, "I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way and not necessarily to the same degree." Bisexual people are unique in that we have the ability to love without the limits of gender.
So we’re writing this to say we are so proud of our community and what we can achieve. Join us in celebrating it not just once a year, but every day.