There’s no doubt that being a part of the LGBT community is difficult for every member. But for bisexual people, life can be especially hard. According to an article in The Daily Beast from January 2016, bisexuals face just as much discrimination within the LGBT community as they face outside of it. Biphobia is a real, ongoing issue that bisexuals have to deal with at every turn. Often, to jump the hurdles associated with their true sexuality, bisexuals simply choose to identify as gay.
In general, sexual identity may not be as important to define. Last February, the Pew Research Center released the results of a study in which only 20% of bisexual participants believed that being bisexual was an important part of their total identity. That was compared to 48% of gay men and 50% of lesbians. What’s even more intriguing is that only 28% of those bisexuals surveyed said they had come out.
That same study showed that bisexual people believed there was a higher rate of acceptance for bisexual women than men.
For bisexual people, coming out involves revealing themselves to heterosexual and homosexual people alike. It’s double the challenge, and it can be exhausting. Aside from the sheer volume of people they have to explain their sexuality to, they often become the source of extreme scrutiny.
LGBT activist Anna Aagenes detailed her personal experience in coming out as bisexual for Huffington Post earlier this year. In the piece, she details how her loved ones told her bisexuality didn’t exist. She was even told she’d have to choose between men and women at some point. For many bisexual people like Aagenes, they’d rather come out as gay and keep the bisexual part to themselves. Though gay people face their fair share of discrimination and challenges, it’s easier for loved ones to understand. It’s cut and dry, straightforward. Bisexuality is more abstract. It’s infinitely harder to explain, and some bisexual people just prefer to avoid this altogether.
A Philly Mag article from 2012 shared that bisexual people feel they have to come out every time they walk into a room. In fact, the phenomenon has been well-documented in both fact and fiction.
A popular storyline during the latter seasons of The L Word was that of Tina, played by Laurel Holloman. When Tina starts dating a man, her lesbian friends feel betrayed and confused. She becomes the source of mean-spirited jokes and some mild discrimination from people who love her. Though it may have seemed far-fetched at the time, those scenes are an accurate portrayal of what many bisexual people have to endure as they continue their personal journey of identity.
Though it’s hard to understand, and doubly hard to endure, bisexual people need to continue to make themselves known. The only way to spread awareness and make the community a more welcoming place is with more conversation. With more brave people like Aagenes, the stigma will melt away both within and outside of the LGBT community.
I am an ally to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. I want you to know that if you would like to explore coming out issues, internalized homophobia, or learn to deal with ongoing discrimination, I would like to help. My goal is to simply help you be your true self and live YOUR truth!! Not the truth that other people would feel comfortable with or the truth that society deems appropriate. I want to help you figure out who your true, authentic self is and help you figure out the best way to live THAT truth. Please feel free to call me to set up an appointment or even just call to ask questions. I am a lesbian therapist in Long Beach and understand what it is like to be discriminated against.