Bisexual Erasure

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 Many people believe that bisexuality is an outdated term, ignoring the gender spectrum.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.

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5 thoughts on “Bisexual Erasure

  1. Terrific post! I think you did a great job giving a detailed and concise explanation for those people that are unaware. 🙂

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  2. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?” Yeah, it does so, at least to me, just because bisexuals aren’t standing up and screaming, “Here I am!” doesn’t mean that bisexuals don’t exist; just because some gay folks went from straight to bi and finally to gay doesn’t mean that any bisexual is on their way to being gay – I know I’d never want to be gay because it’s too much fun being bisexual.

    Why won’t we all come out? Well, I know I’ve been around long enough to see how homosexual were persecuted, shunned, beaten and even killed for being homosexual so, nah, coming out isn’t always a healthy thing to do. Maybe remaining invisible ain’t helping the LGBT cause all that much but for many bisexuals, it’s safer emotionally and physically (in some cases) – which thing is the most important?

    To believe that bisexuals don’t exist is just plain stupid; if we accept that some people can be straight and, lately, some people are gay, it stands to reason that bisexuals have been hanging out as well – and history is full of notable bisexuals so, yeah, we’re real even if you don’t know who’s bi and who isn’t.

    I say this because I’ve been out for a damned long time… and it galls me that even though I’m out, someone’s gonna tell me (a) that I don’t really exist and (b) I’m really gay and should just admit that I am. I mean, really? If I tell you I’m bisexual, how are you gonna tell me that I’m not bisexual? Maybe it’s just me but this is really kinda insane and more so since I’ve been bisexual longer than some of the people who say I don’t exist have been alive.

    If someone doesn’t wanna believe that I exist as a bisexual – and I know that I’m quite bisexual – how does that get to be my problem? I’m pretty sure that none of the people who claim I don’t exist want to have me prove that I’m bisexual…

    I have asked – and have not gotten what I’d call a definitive answer – what benefit is there for bisexuals to come out en masse? Sure, it’ll help the LGBT cause but there are a lot of bisexuals who don’t buy into what the LGBT community’s trying to do and, really, feels that coming out doesn’t do them any good at a very personal level – I know I’ve seen people come out and have had their whole lives ruined for doing it… so why ask for trouble? For many bisexuals, it’s just better to fly under the radar – but because they’ve deemed it’s better for them to do this doesn’t mean they don’t exist because trees do make a noise when they fall – and even if you’re not there to hear it.

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