On international bi-visibility, I reflect on 4 ways that I feel bisexuals can resist bi-invisibility. I’ve been aware of, and
completely somewhat comfortable with being bisexual since my early teens but I’ve not always been outspoken about it. For a long time, I figured it didn’t matter. I’m not sure why. Maybe I thought that because sexuality entails sex, it must be a private thing – I am British after all. Over the years, the more I’ve had to shrug off comments by others, about me or other people, in combination with a lack of seeing people ‘like me’ in every day, the more I’ve thought that it might be good to stand up and wave my pink-purple-blue flag.
1) Wear the badge, the t-shirt and wave the flag
It sounds simple. It is. You never know who will spot and recognise your bisexual colours and imagery and feel a little more confident in who they are. You never know who may comment on how colourful you look and ask why? You never know which friends, family, colleagues, students, supervisors or neighbours you’ll surprise. You could be one of the people to disrupt their stereotypical view of bisexuality or to show them that it really does exist.
2) Come out, then come out again, and again…
Unfortunately, it is well known among bisexuals that we often have to come out time and time again. This is usually because once we’re in a same-sex relationship we’re assumed to be gay and once we’re in an opposite-sex relationship, we’re assumed to be straight. These assumptions are normal judgements made by average humans based on the information available. These judgements are not intended to be malicious but they are irritating when you’re on the receiving end of them time and time again. “So you’re a lesbian now?” I was asked by a close friend after introducing her to a girlfriend. Despite her knowing that I was attracted to both men and women. As frustrating as it can feel to be misunderstood, I feel that coming out, again and again, is a key way that – on an individual level – we can tackle bi-invisibility.
3) Find others, campaign, take action!
As a social psychologist, there is no way that I could write about tackling a social issues such as bi-invisibility without reference to collective action. There is indeed power in numbers and power in combining forces. Add to that, the sense of belonging and empowerment on an individual level, resulting from connecting with others of shared experiences, values and goals – this is powerful recipe for community change! To tackle issues at the top, lobby, protest (peacefully) and campaign for better representation.
4) Look after yourself
OK. This one is not about fighting the cause. It’s not actually about bi-visibility. This one is about knowing that it’s OK not to flight, not to correct people every. single. time. Is it OK to put yourself and your own wellbeing rather than ‘the cause’ first. Now, this item wouldn’t have been on my list if I’d wrote this post just a few weeks ago but an inspirational figure pointed this one out to me at an event the other week. I was arguing that by not correcting every person, every time I was assumed to be straight or gay, I was hindering bi-visibility. This person reminded me of the importance of knowing when to rest and that we don’t have to be fighting 24 hours a day. Our wellbeing matters.