BiVisibility day: We need to stop pushing bisexual people into the cracks

Questions such as ‘aren’t you just gay and don’t want to admit it?’ do nothing to help the bi community

Friday, September 23, 2016

‘Aren’t you just gay and don’t want to admit it?’

It's a question that bi folk often face when coming out at work, at school or at home.

Others face hateful banter and are labelled as ‘greedy’, simply for being attracted to more than one gender.

But how do we tackle these issues? What can we do to empower more bi people to proudly be themselves, without fear of prejudice or marginalisation?

Bi Visibility Day allows us the opportunity to bring people together to discuss specific issues and raise awareness of what it means to be bi. Both within both LGBT spaces and straight spaces. Both often prove problematic, sometimes for the same reasons and otherwise different.

It allows us to celebrate bi role models – both to acknowledge the work that they do for the community, and also inform others who might not have known their favourite singer, actor or academic was bisexual.

Stonewall holds internal bi awareness sessions, where bi staff who have a range of experiences and identify in a range of ways share their stories.

Creating an environment that feels inclusive – be it at work, at school, at home or within your local community – is the first step to making your bi friends and colleagues feel comfortable in talking about their experiences and identities.

Learning about language, and how hateful ‘banter’ can be, can help you as an ally to feel more equipped to call out discriminatory language toward bi folk.

Be a visible ally – whether it’s wearing purple for Bi Visibility Day or keeping a ‘Some People Are Bi. Get Over It!’, let the bi folk around you know that they have your support.

This can be especially important for those members of staff who may not feel comfortable in coming out as bi – and could lead to them feeling able and ready to.

Engage in conversation and, if your bi friends want to talk about their lived experiences and the discrimination they’ve faced for being bi, listen. Learn.

Then ask them if there’s anything you can do to be a better ally. Even if there’s not, they know that if they do want to turn to you for help or advice that they can.

And continue to not judge. People love people – and nothing (let alone judgement) need complicate that.

Until we all begin to champion this idea, and do what we can to support all people to live freely as themselves and not judge others for doing the same, can we work toward a world where all bi people can be accepted without exception.

Matt Horwood works for Stonewall, one of the world's foremost LGBT activist groups. Visit www.stonewall.org.uk or follow them on Twitter @stonewalluk.