Bisexuals are like Batman. We have super powers for invisibility, are adaptable simply because of our sexuality, and sadly can be bent into any shape our partners tell us to. But how does it really feel being constantly pushed and pulled by society, the media, the queer community, and those you date? Is the way we are talked to and about harming us more as a group than we allow ourselves to realise?
The sad reality is that in lesbian circles, bisexual women are shunned for our sexuality. “Bi girls are just dirty. They’re just really gross. I don’t want to fuck them. I cannot imagine why someone would!” one British woman announced after telling a whole tea party about how she slept with men but was ‘really a lesbian’.
After this particular interaction took place, I asked another bisexual woman present – who, like me, was shocked into silence while this woman carried on – if she thought perhaps the reason lesbian-identifying women hated us so much was because they feared their own sexualities, and that if they came out as bisexual, they would find themselves as ‘un-datable’ as other bisexual women do in this scene.
As one can expect from a sub-group that prides itself on the exclusion of men, there’s even a label for lesbians who’ve never had sexual contact with men: gold-star lesbians. Of course, as the saying goes, not all lesbians think like this. But enough do that there’s a whole lingo around bi-girl-hatin’.
I don’t think I could date a bisexual man. I’d worry about him running off with a woman
Bisexual men are also suffering this prejudice from potential dates I discovered recently as well. “I don’t think I could date a bisexual man. I’d worry about him running off with a woman,” a gay male friend told me. This assumption that a bisexual person couldn’t be trusted to make a commitment to a partner - regardless of gender - made me feel deeply uncomfortable.
It’s not just biphobia within the queer community. Many cis men see me as a fetish. “Does that mean you’ll like, kiss another girl, so I can watch?” said every cis guy I dated before I turned 25. This assumption was cutting, not just because my sexuality was being treated like a novelty meant only to please men, but also because apart from being treated as a novelty, my sexuality was invisible. I never gave in to those demands, but I know some bisexual women who did hook up with girls just to please their male partners. Those stories are painful to hear, with the knowledge that these women were not enjoying their sexualities on their own terms but were being treated like animals in a zoo.
Bisexual people are hearing these messages about our own sexuality and are internalising them, which causes us plenty of harm as individuals and as a group. In the US, bisexual people are more likely to be assaulted or murdered than people of any other sexual orientation, and these issues need to be addressed within our community. The queer community has championed the rights of gays and lesbians, yet is leaving bisexuals in the cold.
The first step to dealing with this problem is admitting as a community that these beliefs are untrue, and trying to change the way bisexuals are treated in queer spaces
Often queer spaces don’t feel welcoming to bisexuals, as a few of my friends have pointed out. While marching with the bisexual contingent of Melbourne Pride a few years ago, a friend of mine told me how other parade attendees were chanting that bisexuals weren’t welcome, and needed to make their minds up, further pushing us away from the spaces that should be there to support us.
The first step to dealing with this problem is admitting as a community that these beliefs are untrue, and trying to change the way bisexuals are treated in queer spaces. No one deserves a prize for gaining access to (or not gaining access to) someone’s body; no one deserves to have their queer identity minimised or rejected by their lovers, friends, and community. We all deserve spaces where we are safe, and we all deserve access to the same support system.
Time to start including those of us in the bisexual community, because when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and we as a community deserve better than that.