Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Biphobia in Practice

On September 1, I was getting groceries with my best friend in Omaha, Nebraska.

So no shit there we are, standing in the checkout line, and a lady behind us sees two plushies I'm about to purchase.
L: Oh! It's so cute! Where did you find it?
M: Over there; they have lots of them!
L: Wow! It's Wonder Woman, right?
M: Yes. And this is a rainbow hedgehog.
L: Adorable.
M: It was on sale!
L: Oh, and what is that tattoo behind your ear?
M: Oh, that's a rainbow. I got it last summer when the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality.
L: *face changes, very slowly, from affable interest to slight horror, to slightly off-put might-have-gas-ness and she suddenly becomes very interested in her groceries and completely mute*

As we're exiting the store:
Bff: . . . So did she just straight up stop talking as soon as you explained your tattoo?
M: Yep. That's exactly what happened.
Bff: Woooooow.

(Credit to best friend for the retelling)

Way to live down to my expectations of the Midwest, Omaha. This exchange make me even happier to miss the family reunion in the area that weekend. I'd originally booked the trip to spend a few days with best friend and go to the extended family reunion, but as more of my immediate family canceled and it looked like I'd be visiting a bunch of strangers (about whom I know nothing except that they're Christian white people from the Midwest, and my only interaction with them was when one found his way to my Facebook page to make transphobic comments about Caitlyn Jenner), I decided to spend the whole trip with best friend instead.


This week a friend invited me to an event hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, but I see there's no B in "GALA." Bisexual people face negativity and exclusion not only from heterosexuals but also from homosexuals as well. 

Yesterday an article made its way around Facebook discussing a recent survey that found half of Americans would not date a bisexual person. The comments section, unsurprisingly, is a hot mess of biphobia masquerading as Logic™.

Close friends have even said they would never date/trust a bisexual because a bisexual person in their past was untrustworthy. Seriously, though, how many millions of relationships between different-gender people have ended the same way? If I let the fact that people in my past relationships were often dishonest and hurtful influence my decisions that same way, I would never date a straight man again.

September 23 is Bisexual Visibility Day. Be aware that bisexuals face some of the highest rates of poverty, mental illness, drug use, suicide, self-harm, assault, and rape compared to both their straight AND gay peers.
  • In a 2009 survey, bisexuals were tolerated only slightly more than intravenous drug users in a survey of self-identifying heterosexuals.
  • Data from Australia shows that both men and women who are bisexual have the highest percentages of suicide attempts.
  • Most bisexuals won’t tell someone about their sexual orientation until the age of 20.
  • Nearly half of all bisexual households have a total family income that is less than $30k.
  • Research shows that bisexual people are six times more likely than gay men and lesbians to hide their sexual orientation.
"While 20% of bisexuals report experiencing a negative employment decision based on their sexuality, almost 60% of bisexual people report hearing anti-bisexual jokes and comments on the job.
"Bisexual people experience higher rates of sexual and intimate partner violence than gay, lesbian, and straight people. Bisexual women experience significantly higher rates of violence both overall and by significant others, compared to lesbian and straight women: 46% of bisexual women have experienced rape, compared to 13% and 17% of lesbian and straight women, respectively. Sixty-one percent of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 43% and 35% of lesbian and straight women respectively. More than half of bisexual women who experienced violence by an intimate partner reported that they had missed a day of work or school, feared for their safety, or experience another negative impact. Bisexual men also report higher rates of sexual violence; nearly half of bisexual men (47%) report experiencing sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime."

Understand that erasure is not privilege.
Erasure is not privilege.

"It means coming out over and over and over and over again…sometimes to the same person. It means I get dragged back into the closet every damn day. It hurts every time, but today in light of this already bleeding wound, biphobia and erasure is excruciating.

My best friend (at the time) recoiled in horror when I came out to her.
So I didn't come out for another 10 years.

Bisexuals aren't confused. They aren't more likely to cheat. Not "everybody's a little bit gay." It isn't it a joke.

For us, it's literally life and death.
"According to the American Journal of Public Health, among women, bisexual women report the highest prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (of PTSD) (26.6% versus 6.6% of straight women), with high prevalence of PTSD setting the stage for poorer health throughout adulthood. Bisexuals have higher suicidality rates: one study found bisexuals were four times more likely and lesbian and gay adults two times more likely to report attempted suicide than straight adults."
September 23 is Celebrate Bisexuality Day.


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