23rd September marks Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day – what is it and why is it important?
Throughout the year, there are various LGBT+ awareness days and weeks for communities within the ‘Queer’ spectrum. Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day – also known as Bisexuality+ Visibility Day – falls on the 23rd of September, and is preceded with a Bi+ Visibility Week, which this year was marked from the 16th – 23rd September.
Celebrate Bisexuality Day was first observed in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1999 at the International Gay and Lesbian Association Conference. However, there was previously Bisexual Pride Day held on the 23rd June.
Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day and the preceding Bisexual+ Visibility Week are important because it aims to celebrate Bisexual+ people, culture, history and community.
The event was started in response to the prejudice and perception of bisexual+ people both in the straight and LGBT+ community, which hasn’t always been flattering.
Misconceptions of bisexual+ people and their lives have plagued both communities, and in wider society have led to a problem called Bisexual Erasure. Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day and Bisexuality+ Visibility Week have aimed to address Bisexual Erasure by providing visibility to bisexual+ people and their lives.
Bisexual+ covers the wide array of non-monosexual identities, such as bisexuals, polysexuals and pansexuals.
Bisexual: a person who is attracted to men and women; or, masculinity and femininity; or, same-gender and other genders – this can include non-binary identities. There is no strict one definition of bisexual in regards to other bisexual+ identities (and you shouldn’t insist there is – the choice of label its definition is up to personal preference). Essentially – but not strictly – somebody who is not solely gay, straight or asexual.
Pansexual: a person who is attracted to all genders, or regardless of gender.
Polysexual: a person who is attracted to multiple, but not all, genders.
Omnisexual: an alternate term for pansexual.
Queer: a person whose sexuality does not fall into the other labels.
It also covers -romantic identities – such as biromantic, panromantic, etc, which may be separate from their sexual identity (e.g. biromantic asexuals).
Bisexual Erasure – also known as Bisexual Invisibility – is the tendency to ignore bisexuality as a legitimate sexuality; and to falsify what bisexuality is, who bisexual people are and to remove bisexual people and their sexualities from history, academia, news media and other primary sources.
Examples of this include the redefining of bisexual people’s sexuality as either straight or gay: for example, falsely claiming that a bisexual person is either gay or straight dependent on their partner, or even simply claiming that bisexuals are “halfway out of the closet” and lacking the bravery to come out as ‘fully gay’, misrepresenting them as “greedy” or “indecisive”, as merely “experimenting” or “unsure”.
Bisexuals are as sure of their sexualities as any gay or straight person is. A bisexual in a relationship with a person of the same gender is still bisexual. A bisexual in a relationship with a person of a different gender is still bisexual. This too goes for pansexuals, polysexuals and other non-monosexual (not gay or straight) people too.
This very simple point has been missed: in media, for example, a person’s sexuality has been defined and redefined by their partners. Many bisexual people have, and continue to be, misidentified as “gay” because of the high-profile nature of their same-sex relationships. Characters in dramas and comedies have had their sexualities redefined as “gay” when they have entered into same-sex relationships, rather than giving credence to the possibility of them being bisexual+.
In doing so, this reinforces some of the worst negative misconceptions of bisexual people: for example, that they are merely “unsure” or were just pretending to be straight all along. In other instances, bisexual characters have played up to the stereotypes that plague bisexual+ people – for instance, the cheating bisexual man who is sleeping with men behind his wife’s back.
Redefining the sexualities of bisexual+ people and playing to these misconceptions has a very real and negative effect on bisexual people. There has often been a feeling among bisexual+ people that they are considered “too gay” for straight people, and “too straight” for gay people, leaving them in a sexual limbo in which only other bisexual understand (so much for ‘doubling’ your chances, right?). This leads to ostracisation from gay and straight communities alike, and a constant need for bisexual+ people to defend and justify their sexuality – an act that feels like they must go through the process of coming out over and over again.
Even within the law and social change, bisexuals+ have often been ‘lumped in’ with gay and lesbian people and have been referred to as such. Laws the effect gay and lesbian people also affect bisexual+ people.
Right. Increasingly, bisexual+ people’s identities are being given the credibility and visibility they deserve. This is notable in the usage of the term “LGBT+” rather than simply “gay and lesbian”. Indeed, Albany Pride have recently changed their name to be more inclusive of bisexual+ people and other people on the LGBT+ spectrum.
More and more people are living openly and publicly as out bisexual/pansexual/omnisexual/polysexual/queer+ people. We have out bisexual+ people in our Arts, politics and other positions of social influence.
ALBANY PRIDE PROUDLY SUPPORTS THE BISEXUAL+ COMMUNITY