Why bisexual representation still matters in 2022

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Bisexual man holding rainbow bracelet
Bisexual man holding rainbow bracelet. Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Bisexuality is often looked at as an invisible identity. Though there is a lot more representation for the LGBTQ community today, the B in LGBTQ is usually erased by both queer and straight people. Media and societal erasure of bisexual identities, as well as stigmatization surrounding bi people being promiscuous, indecisive, or non-monogamous, many feel misrepresented, misunderstood, and misheard.

The truth is, bisexuality is not a phase, and some bisexual people also look for a monogamous relationship, as well as parenting with their partners. Slowly, we’ve seen more bi representation in the media without prejudice. Having a voice is more important than ever for the bi community to bridge the gap between all groups to bring understanding.       

Why did bisexuality get a negative reputation?

Bisexuality’s negative reputation is a loaded concept that begins with widespread homophobia. Both heterosexual and homosexual communities participate in bisexual erasure.

In heterosexual communities, there are a lot of assumptions that all bisexual people are closeted gays, it’s a phase to fit in with a certain label or identity or just a phase. This community also participates in bisexual delegitimization or the denial of bisexuality as a true identity.

The LGBTQ community also participates in the erasure of bi people due to the fear of bisexuality destabilizing sex. People tend to try to appeal to the sex they are attracted to, but bisexuality challenges that with the possibility of being attracted to multiple different sexes.

Both groups tend to see this identity as something to be “conquered” or “overcome” and many bisexual people are mistaken for gay.

Negative reactions from both sides

All of the stigma surrounding being bi can cause some bisexual people to feel ashamed to openly state their identity. Some may just use the term queer to avoid negative reactions.

Bisexual dating also comes with a new set of problems with many bi people reporting that neither same or opposite sex partners take them seriously, which might be a critical problem in the future of the relationship for those seeking to have children with their partner.  Assumptions run rampant, including the thought that they are waiting for an opposite sex partner that they like better.

Opposite sex partners assume that they “turned straight” or that being bi was all an act for attention. There’s also an assumption that there’s an issue with staying faithful because of the thought that they are attracted to everyone.

Bi women who are with men aren’t “gay enough”, while bi women who only date women are “too gay”.

The hypersexualization of bi people

The hypersexualization of bisexual people is one of the biggest contributors to the negative viewpoints surrounding them. Misinformed people pass around the idea that bi people want to date around with no interests in monogamy. While it may be true that there are some polyamorous bi people, this isn’t a specific facet of being bi.

Just like any other sexuality, there are preferences of what they find attractive. Most other straight or queer people don’t find everyone they come into contact with romantically desirable and there’s no difference for bi people.

It’s not always black and white

Society is incredibly heteronormative, even within the queer community. The idea that everyone must fit into a specific box regarding attraction is very heavy. People tend to assign labels to people based on the sex of the person they are going for, when that doesn’t always give the answers they need.

People will assume that two women in a relationship are lesbians when in reality, one person could be bi. It doesn’t invalidate being bi or being part of the queer community if you’ve only been with opposite sex partners. The same goes for if you’ve only had same-sex partners.

These heteronormative structures often force unfair identities onto bi people in order to box them into a certain group.

Bisexuality isn’t rare

Heteronormative ideals perpetrate the idea that bisexuality is rare, however according to a study from the UCLA School of Research almost 50% of people who identify as LGBTQ are bisexual.

As common as it is in real life bisexual characters make up only 26% of all LGBTQ characters in the media. There were only eight bisexual characters in the top 1200 films of 2018 and only three in 2019.

While we likely all know someone who identifies as bi in person, it’s still rare to see bisexual characters at the forefront of any series.

Why do we need visibility?

Visibility for bisexual people is more important than ever, as the stigma surrounding being bi is still very high. Strides are being made to normalize the stigma with Bi Visibility Day, a day meant to “accelerate acceptance of the bi+ community”.

Many people understand sexuality as attraction to gender or sex, this seeks to change that by providing educating people on what it truly means to be bisexual. Bias stems from lack of knowledge, homophobia and incorrect portrayal of bi people in the media. Harmful ideas like only 50% of bi people’s sexual desires are only being met when being with one sex because they have desire to be with the other need to be squashed.

As common as it is, bisexuality is still a mystery to many.

How can you help to break the stigma?

Hearing all of this may make it seem like a daunting task to be bisexual and for allies to help change the viewpoints of a large majority who is misinformed about bisexuality.

It’s not a one step process to change viewpoints, but you can start by being open-minded and willing to listen to your bisexual friends, family and fellow humans. Being willing to educate yourself through listening to experiences, doing your own research and being open-minded in general helps to change the way we view sexuality and relationships.

The main takeaway is this: bisexual people deserve love, respect and understanding like everyone else. Bi folks have preferences, standards and desires like everyone else. They can have a wide variety of people that they are attracted to but they also decide who fits that attraction. Instead of casting judgment on bi people, try tto understand who they really are.

Also, see our article about the 11 hottest bi celebs!