Bi Visibility, Bi Understanding, and Bi Erasure

Yesterday was Bi Visibility Day! Woo! I donned my purple shirt for the occasion and I was at a coffee and then pub meet yesterday. It was great! There was actually representation from the bi community there which makes a really nice change, often the coffee and pub meets have little to no turn out but that wasn’t the case today and it felt great.

So what am I writing this post for? Surely there is enough in the media about bi people, or at least Lesbians and Gays and so surely we can just leave it? Why bother with Bi Visibility Day?

In this post I am going to talk about all of these things and more, as I for one am frustraed at these attitudes that are so backwards without even attempting to step forward.

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Bi Erasure

I am going to start from the end and work my way back today. Bi erasure is something a lot of people scoff at. ‘Surely it isn’t a thing, I mean, everybody knows about bi stuff’, and this means different things for different people. For some, this is in a positive way, they think everyone knows bi people are out there and what is the problem?

For others though it is more serious. Some people say it meaning that everyone knows bi people do not exist. I know that sounds laughable to those who are allies or even bi themselves, but it is a strangely common attitude to have, often especially in the Lesbian and Gay community (which is interesting as
recently a study – I am unsure of the source – said that at least 50% of the LGBT community identify as bisexual).

Often we are told things such as;

Make up your mind!
You can’t like ‘both’ (often excluding non-binary identities)
Stop sitting on the fence
You’re doing that for attention
You’ll work out what you like more soon
Oh you’re really just Gay/a Lesbian
You’re just confused…

The list goes on. Look at the (frankly amusing) video showing some of the stereotypes that are out there.

In reality, it is awful, and as a bi person it feels horrible. It doesn’t get any easier either, right now in this society there are accepting people but there are also those who are completely against bi people existing. It’s something that was discussed a lot at the coffee and pub meet, even to the extent where one person wrote a small Ballad to the Bisexual Dragon which we all sang (video and lyrics at the bottom of the post). We joked about being erased and people pretending they are not there and it was fantastic.

But the thing is, bi erasure is real. It is too often that the sentences above are said, that they are spoken by people that we thought could be great allies. I have had friends (who are not bi) tell me that I am gay because I like men/masculine people more than women, I have had that a lot. Honestly, when I get it from bi people for the most part I know they are joking, it is a laugh. But when it is from outside of the community I never really know. We are faced with this constant barage of statements that we are not what we say we are and it is exhausting.

The worst part is, a lot of this animosity comes from the Lesbian and Gay communities. Nowhere is this shown greater than at Pride. A friend of mine was marching with the trans collective in the parade, with their partner, and to the outside they looked like a ‘cis’ ‘straight’ couple. Or at least they would have, if not for the trans flag wrapped around my friend’s shoulder’s and the bi flag wrapped around their partner’s. I was told by someone else that they had someone come up to them while they were there, telling them ‘how nice it was to see a normal straight couple’ (paraphrased) at Pride.

Um, what? 

At work I get comments from clients about going to ‘find [myself] a nice girlfriend’ and this is all great, but when I tell my collegues I get the laugh and the follow up, ‘I wonder what he’d say if he knew you liked men!’ I always awkwardly say, ‘well I am bisexual…’ but it is met by a small laugh and an ‘okay haha’. It is difficult to cope with and some times you just want to stop educating.

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Not-Dave, the Brighton Bothway's mascot with some of the members last night in the pub!

Bi Understanding

Speaking of education, I think that bI understanding is something that really needs to be improved upon.

When I was in school there were bi people out (in the older years) but it was seen as a bit of an experiment thing. In class I don’t remember bi people being mentioned once in an educational setting. Gay, lesbian and straight  people, sure. But bi? Not at all. This is how straight people have sex, this is how gay men have sex. That was it. Nothing more. Biology only taught us the ‘proper’ sex and sex-ed (until someone who was bisexual brought it up in sixth form) was just about straight people and the odd comment to those who were gay/lesbian. 

It is almost laughable to think, but this was legitimate. No wonder those outside of the bi spectrum think of us as some kind of myth, we were never shown as real.

This is the case especially with sex education.

In school, they divided us into the boy’s sex ed and the girl’s sex ed (which was awful enough already, why shouldn’t a girl know how a boy’s parts work and visa versa? Why were we basing so much on someones sex assigned at birth? I know I hated being in the girl’s sex ed class, even if I didn’t fully get why). Within this, sexual health was discussed, but there was nothing about health when it came to relationships that were not straight, or that included more than one partner. It was linear. Again, until the same person as before brought it up in sixth form.

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Some photos from the bi coffee meet at Red Roaster on Bi Visibility Day in Brighton!

So why Bi Visability Day?

Well I would like to think I have summed it up pretty well here. Bi people are ignored, erased, and outright treated awfully for nothing more than having the audacity to like more than one gender. Without bi visibility, we are left in constant shadow, hidden away and forgotten. Yes, it is only one day a year, and perhaps some people will forget us again when the day ends, but we decided on the day that we would make it the best day of being visible we could!

The Ballad Of The Bisexual Dragon

*POOFT!* A magic dragon,
Appeared bi the sea,
To frolic on this autumn day
Of vi-si-bi-li-ty

Dragons couldn’t be seen
The whole rest of the year
‘Cause of myths and shame
& prejudice: Cruelty and fear.

Our hero he had been told
That it was just a phase
That he would make a proper choice
One, of these days 😦

There were no others like him.
That was made quite clear.
Even in a place so full –
Of different types of queer!

Tho’ dragon was sad angry,
He used magic to fight hate;
And carried on, brave, invisible –
Whilst trying to get a date.

CHORUS :
*POOFT!* A magic dragon,
Appeared bi the sea,
To frolic on this autumn day
Of vi-si-bi-li-ty

That autumn day he found that,
There were others just like him.
A multicoloured, multitude…
Of Shes and Hes and Them 🙂

He had his cake, AND ate it.
Drank lots of types of tea

SHOUT OUT:
#REALI-TEA!
#SOLIDARI-TEA!
#BISEXUALI-TEA!

He looked around, and knew he’d found,
Some support and harmony…

Don’t let them vanish from view tomorrow,
Keep them safe and visible with accepting, smiling eyes.

Dragons, we just love equally –
And always need Allies to keep us happy ❤

CHORUS :
*POOFT!* A magic dragon
Appeared Bi the sea
To frolic each and every day
Of happy VI-SI-BI-LI-TY!

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