Bisexual erasure is a real issue for bisexual people. This is the phenomenon in which society actively promotes the idea that bisexuals don’t exist, that they’re making it up, that bisexuality is just a phase, or that bisexuality is only a pathway to coming to terms with one’s homosexuality. Buzzfeed posted a great listicle with comments from just such people.
Like other sexual orientations, there are as many types of bisexuality as there are bi-identified people. There may be a few for whom being with both sexes is a choice. Many bisexual people are equally attracted to both sexes, but only romantic with one or the other. This is called heteroromantic or homoromantic. Many people believe that bisexuality is an outdated term, ignoring the gender spectrum. Others assert that as they are attracted to gender expression, bisexual still applies.
In addition to the people who actually exist and identify as bi, there has been some great research into the bisexual mind. The NYT had a fantastic article putting the research together in context with the human element.
So what are the reasons for bisexual erasure? Well, in part, people don’t believe they exist because so many gay and lesbian people come out as bi first, even if they’re not bi. For some, it’s less scary or absolute, so easier to claim than gay. But there’s another reason: bisexuals themselves.
Now, now. Don’t light the torches just yet. I know I’m part of the problem. Bisexual people who don’t come out are guilty of contributing to the problem of downplaying bisexuality in the media and in the realm of social understanding. I am not out to many people, because I can easily pass for straight. I’m married with a kid. We will remain invisible as long as we allow it. Until bisexual people come out in larger numbers, people won’t believe we exist in large numbers. There needs to be a push for coming out whenever safe and including bisexual characters in LGBT literature for widespread acceptance to take root.
And finally, a disclaimer. I do not pretend to know all the answers, and if I have misspoken here, please let me know.