“I picked a partner, not a side.”Misty Gedlinske, ‘Bisexuality: The Invisible Letter “B”‘
Happy Pride Month 2021 all! I hope we all have a safe, fun, educating experience this June.
For Pride Month, I want to write about important LGBTQ+ topics that need continual exposure. This is a huge one for me, in honor of all of the awesome-sauce bisexual individuals I’m blessed to know. While I’m 1000% gay, I deeply appreciate the unique stories my bisexual spiritual siblings have to offer us all.
Bisexual folk, while also having to face the stigmas any other member of the global LGBTQ+ community has to deal with, struggle against a uniquely demeaning form of stigmatization. The most recent term for this is “bi-erasure”, the perpetual invalidation of bisexuality as a whole.
There truly is a Ted Talk for everything! This video here, by a powerfully soft-spoken bisexual woman named Misty Gedlinske, hits the nail on the head for why bi-erasure is so toxic.
(For some reason, the audio quality for this Ted Talk is awfully low. I had to amp up my headphone volume for this one, as a heads up.)
“Erasure says that bisexuals are ‘confused’, ‘indecisive’, ‘going through a phase’, or that we just want attention. It depicts us as greedy, untrustworthy, and incapable of monogamy or long-term commitment.
Erasure steals our agency, and allows others to define our orientation for us, based on the sex or gender of our partner.
Erasure is double-sided, and it tells bisexuals, ‘You are too straight for queer spaces, and not queer enough for gay spaces.’
Erasure says to bisexual men, ‘Yeah, you’re really gay and just don’t want to say so.’
Erasure expects bisexual women to ‘prove it’, usually in performative ways.
Keeping erasure at bay means coming, out, over and over again, answering questions that other people don’t get faced with, try not to sound too defensive, and doing your best not to disappear.”Misty Gedlinske, ‘Bisexuality: The Invisible Letter “B”‘
Mrs. Gedlinske also dropped heartbreaking statistics in her video about the struggles that bisexual people disproportionately face.
- 6x more likely than gays or lesbians to hide their orientation, even from loved ones
- Only 44% of bisexual youth reported feeling able to confide in a trusted adult
- Both bisexual youth and adults reported alarmingly higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse
- Over a 1/3 of bisexual adults don’t disclose their orientation to their medical providers, leading to disproportionate rates of health problems compared to straight adults
- Bisexual women experience domestic/sexual abuse at the hands of their partners at a 30% higher rate compared to lesbian women
- 40% of bisexual adults have either considered or attempted suicide
There’s a common denominator here, for why bisexual individuals have a statistically harder time being open about themselves and who they are. There’s been a horridly long history of bisexuality being equivalated with promiscuity, adultery, and infidelity. Pretty ironic, when it’s typically straight men in power who are the ones who commit those crimes (looking at you, Josh Duggar!)
Here’s another heartbreakingly chilling quote from this Ted Talk:
“Because isn’t it better to be invisible than to be demonized?”Misty Gedlinske, ‘Bisexuality: The Invisible Letter “B”‘
When bisexual individuals end up believing that they’re safer not being honest about themselves out of fear of being ostracized, it perpetuates a toxic, emotionally-draining silence. And as somebody who was terrified of breaking that silence as a gay youth, I can only imagine just how much worse that must be for a bisexual individual.
It’s even worse when it’s other members of the LGBTQ+ community who do the demonizing. My best friend’s mom, who’s always been a staunch ally, put it plainly: this community is nothing but hypocritical if it refuses to accept bisexual people for who they love, when gay and lesbian folk want the same thing.
I mean, c’mon guys, it’s LGBTQ, not LG. We’re not a phone company, so please, may we never act phony towards our compatriots, especially those who trust us with their life stories.
After writing this blog post, I spent a bit of time reflecting on the guy crushes I had when I was at college, specifically the ones who dropped subtle hints that they were interested in me too. I cringe realizing that, even though my intentions were pure and innocent, I always assumed that those lads were 100% gay, and never considered the likelihood that they’re bisexual. In hindsight, this is indicative of our society’s pervading, incorrect assumption that in order for a person to be “validly bisexual”, they have to have an equal 50/50 attraction rate.
The truth is that bisexuality is a wonderfully fluid orientation that comes in different forms. Some are 90% straight/10% gay, others 60% straight/40% gay, and so on. All of these are valid, and so are the awesome individuals who’re capable of loving so many people.
Folks, remember these truths about the bisexual people we’re lucky to know:
- Their orientation is valid, and isn’t a “phase”, or an “excuse to be promiscuous”.
- If you receive the honor of a bisexual partner choosing to be with you, they chose you out of all the other folk they could’ve fallen for; their commitment to you should never be taken for granted.
- Preemptively expecting a bisexual partner, whether because of societal stereotypes or because of one ill individual, to betray you by adultery, is a toxic trust issue that YOU, not them, are responsible for.
- If we want to encourage our bisexual friends and family members living in silence to open up to us about their orientation, then we must earn it by proving to them our trustworthiness, by our words and actions.
And lastly, to the amazing, love-filled bisexual folk reading this:
Remember that you are beloved, that your story matters to me, God, and so many others. I’m so sorry if you’ve ever felt forced to be silent about who you are, especially if the perpetrator of that cold silence is somebody you thought you could trust. Don’t ever be afraid to call out those who seek to invalidate your life’s story, or who think it’s ok to discredit the beauty of your vast capability to love.
Peace be with you, friends, and Happy Pride!
- Bisexuality is Not Binary — Ygender
- Project MUSE – The Future of Bisexual Activism (jhu.edu) (aka the “Bisexual Manifesto”, a powerful read from 1990)
- What does bisexual really mean? Here, 8 myths are clarified | Well+Good (wellandgood.com)
- Chapter 3: The Coming Out Experience | Pew Research Center
- Bisexuality and Promiscuity in Fact and Fiction | HuffPost