Why Bi Visibility Matters

It is #BiVisibilityWeek in the UK, with Bi visibility day on Thursday, September 23rd. Around the world events will be held to celebrate the lives of multisexual people, and in particular those who identify as bi. Celebration is important, but, there is also the need to highlight the prejudice and discrimination which the community experiences, from high rates of microaggressions to frightening levels of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.

These are the statistics.

These are the lives of bi people of all genders, with a starkness that rightly reflects the fact that words get in the way here. We have to pause, reflect, consider, weep, mourn, then determine that this has to change.

Fluidity, multiplicity, a refusal to sit in neat binaries seems to challenge white western society in a way which results in the above statistics. A woman cant actually be attracted to more than one gender, she must be a slut. A man cant actually be attracted to more than one gender, he must be up for it, at any time, with anyone. No one of any gender could actually be multi-attracted and faithful – so the narrative builds up of bi people as hypersexualised and deceitful. As we are all more than one identity, intersecting oppression and marginalization means the impact is heightened for those who are black, or disabled, or trans, or not white western and privileged.

To listen to our own accounts of ourselves, our attractions our experiences, would be to accept a world beyond neat binaries, a world where either or was replaced with infinite possibilities. To resist this the cacophony of clamoring voices reaches a crescendo, telling bi people all the things they must be;

sluts

disease spreaders

cheaters

liars

confused

faithless

undecided

wrong

Then the doctors enter the room, white coats gleaming with the light of diagnoses. This person surely has an unstable sense of self, that person must be promiscuous, whole lifetimes of trauma, abuse, minority stress dismissed as explanations of distress. Instead pathologising labels, based on simply not belonging to a strict binary are applied.

There is a saying, mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living. This bi visibility week we all need to pledge to fight the biphobia, the assumptions, the microagressions, the prejudice. From telling someone their identity isn’t real, through to excusing violence because they were “asking for it” by being bi, wherever and whenever bi people are under attack we all need to fight back.

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