◀ All Blog Posts

Bisexual+ Awareness Week: Terms, Stats, Myths, and Celebration

By Marissa Tolero

MON SEP 21, 2020

Bisexual Awareness Week (September 16-23) is an extension of Celebrate Bisexuality Day (September 23), which was started in order to recognize and celebrate the bisexual+ community. This has special significance for me since I identify as bisexual and grew up not understanding this identity nor having spaces to go for information and support. To fully celebrate the bisexual+ community we should understand some foundational information about the community.

Bisexual pride flag
Bisexual pride flag

TERMS

Bisexual/Bi - Someone who experiences romantic, physical, and/or emotional attractions to the same gender as well as other genders.

Bi Erasure - When the existence and validation of the bisexual+ identity is questioned, denied, or ignored.

Biphobia - An aversion toward bisexual+ individuals or the community as a whole.

Bisexual+/Bi+ Umbrella - An encompassing term for people who are attracted to more than one gender. Includes bisexual, pansexual, queer, and more.

Pansexual/Pan - A person who experiences romantic, physical, and/or emotional attractions to all genders or to people regardless of gender.

Polysexual - A person who experiences romantic, physical, and/or emotional attractions to people of different, but not necessarily all, genders.

Queer - A term reclaimed by some LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities as an umbrella term to describe one’s sexual or gender identity that falls outside of heterosexual and cisgender.

STATISTICS

  • Around 3.9% of the adult population self-identifies as bisexual (APA, 2020)
  • According to a 2013 survey of LGBTQIA+ Americans by Pew Research Center, approximately 40% of the LGBTQIA+ identified respondents identified as bisexual
  • 28% of the bisexual respondents said that most important people in their lives know of their sexual identity in comparison to 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians
  • Bisexual individuals report greater levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidality than gay or lesbian individuals (APA, 2020)

MYTHS

  1. Bisexuality is a phase. This has been shared with me in non-malicious ways, but was nevertheless invalidating my identity. It was discussed as if akin to when teenagers explore their sexuality and eventually “figure out the right path.” While many folks will spend time reflecting on and exploring their sexual identity in different ways, the bisexual+ identity is valid and enduring. According to Diamond (2008), 92% of people who identify as bisexual still do 10 years later.
  2. Bisexual+ people are more promiscuous than gay, lesbian, or straight people. I remember coming out to a colleague several years ago begrudgingly and his first question in response was “have you ever had a threesome”? It is false that just because bisexual+ people have the capactiy for attraction to more than one gender means they are automatically more sexually active. Bisexual+ folks have the same capacity to choose whether to engage in monogamy or not as gay, lesbian, or straight people.
  3. Bisexual+ people are “straight passing” or have “straight privilege.” I was actually surprised to see this myth in my research and am experiencing real time validation as I have experienced a complicated sense of guilt for my identity. I will share the words from GLAAD on this myth as they articulate their explanation wonderfully: “A bi+ person can be subjected to biphobic discrimination regardless of their partner’s gender. Arguing that a bi+ person has "straight passing privilege" because of their orientation promotes an inaccurate understanding of what it means to be bi+. It also erases the struggles and experiences unique to the bi+ community. For example, bi+ people face life-threatening challenges such as increased rates of Intimate Partner Violence, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse than their gay/lesbian & straight peers, and have less access to resources due to discriminatory attitudes towards bisexual+ identities.” (2020)

These lists are clearly non-exhaustive. The terms associated with the bi+ community are much greater than these, as are the statistics and myths to be dispelled. However, I hope with this brief foundation of information that you are encouraged to investigate further into the bisexual+ experience, whether you identify as bi+ or want to be an ally.

CELEBRATING THE BI+ COMMUNITY

How can you support and celebrate the bi+ community? Here are just a few ways:

  1. Consume media by bisexual+ artists. Listen to podcasts, read memories and stories, and watch TV shows and movies by bisexual+ folks. Again, whether you are a member of the community or not, not all experiences are the same. There is always more to learn and stories to be heard!
  2. Fight bi erasure and biphobia. If you feel safe enough, call out these things when you see/hear them. Replace those harmful words and behavior with accurate information about bisexuality and bisexual+ experiences. Dispel those myths!
  3. Address your own biases. Take inventory of whether you have any of your preconceived notions about the bisexual+ community. Even if you identify as part of the community, you may have internalized biphobia or biases against those with different bisexual+ identities than you. Educate, share, and dispel.
  4. Create safe spaces for a loved one to talk about their identity if they choose to. As the statistic shared above states, bisexual+ folks are less likely to be out to the most important people in their lives than gay and lesbian folks due to fear of bi erasure and biphobia. You may or may not have an inkling that someone close to you might identify as bisexual+ so without putting this assumption on them, let them know that you offer a non-judgmental and loving space to talk.
  5. Share, share, share! Whatever information you already know or recently learned, share it on social media, in-person, wherever! The more we normalize the bisexual+ identity, the more support the community will receive. Folks will experience less mental health concerns due to this validation and support. Bisexual+ individuals are a large part of our population - let’s share helpful, positive, and accurate information to celebrate the community!

If you need support in coming out as bisexual+ or in any experience you have related to this community then schedule a free consultation for yoga+therapy today!