September 23 was Bisexual Visibility Day. Recently, I was with some lesbian and gay friends. One of my male friends, talking about another man, said, "Well, he used to be family, but he's engaged to a woman, so I guess not anymore!" ["Family" is slang referring to someone who is also gay or lesbian.]
That, my friends, right there, spoken without a second thought, is bisexual erasure in action. In my own group of friends. No one said anything. Not a single person there (all lesbian or gay, save for one) called him out. The conversation moved on. I was the lone bisexual person in the group. In one sentence, my sexuality (and that of millions of others) was dismissed as something that just can't exist; the very idea that a human being could love a woman just as much as they could love a man was did not make it to the forefront of their minds. Our love and attraction toward people of all gender identities do not suddenly become invalidated when we're in a relationship with a person of one of the genders. But, at the same time, when we're in a relationship with you (whatever your gender identity is), that doesn't mean we feel like we're missing out on the other genders. We're in a relationship with YOU for a reason.
A common stereotype is that (to use a binary example) a bisexual man in a relationship with a gay man will cheat on him with a woman because he can't contain his desires for a woman. This is ludicrous. Again, we're in a relationship with YOU for a reason. Bisexual people are no more likely to be unfaithful to you than if you were in a relationship with someone of your own sexuality (e.g., a lesbian woman is no more likely to be cheated on by a bisexual woman than she is if she were dating a lesbian woman). Truly, it makes no sense.
No, we are not, as a group, confused (though some individuals, as with every sexuality, may be.) We are not going through a phase.
I will never consider myself straight because I love men; I will never come out as gay because I love women. THIS DOES NOT MEAN I LOVE YOU ANY LESS, and you have nothing to fear. If I have given you my heart, then YOU HAVE MY HEART, and I have trusted you with its secrets.
No, we are not, as a group, promiscuous (though some individuals, as with every sexuality, may be).
No, we are not, as a group, greedy (though some individuals, as with every sexuality, may be).
No, we are not, as a group, all into threesomes (though some individuals, as with every sexuality, may be).
But people fear the unfamiliar.
We are just as valid members of the LGBT+ community as those identifying with any of the other letters.
I, for one, am proud of the fact that I can fall in love with anyone and not have their genitals or gender identity be a dealbreaker. To me, I think, "How can one not love everyone?"
Bisexual women are sexualized, and bisexual men are dismissed. My sexuality does not define me, but it is an inexorable part of who I am.
Too often, we face discrimination in heterosexual-dominated society for being "too gay".
Alas, in my personal experience, however, it is people in my own LGBT+ community—which I work tirelessly to engage and the rights for which I will NEVER. STOP. FIGHTING.—that belittles my sexuality (more than the straight world) as not being "gay enough" or angry that I "can pass as straight" were I to be dating a woman instead of dating a man. This is upsetting, not only from a personal angle, but also from a community-wide perspective. We're all on the same team here. As minorities, we cannot afford to be split into factions. I guarantee you that any (if not every) bisexual, pansexual, or any other polysexual person has been talked down to by a monosexual person (whether gay, lesbian, or straight) with one of the stereotypes above. As harmless as jokes about me "being indecisive" may seem, they hurt. The video here, entitled "YOU'RE NOT GAY ENOUGH" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO_Dk_Z2zRM rings so very true to me that I cried the first time I saw it. FINALLY! Someone understood what I was had experienced.
So, I'm here to say, "HEY! We are here! I EXIST! And I will NOT be erased."
I have a heart that can be flooded with joy as much as it can be shattered.
I have feelings that can be invulnerable as much as they can be trampled upon.
I am a human being capable of giving unimaginable, limitless, ineffable amounts of love.
And I want you to be as happy and loved as much as I want to be happy and loved, so, please, respect my identity as I respect yours.
For more bi perspectives, follow this link: http://www.mic.com/articles/125741/bisexual-people-are-using-twitter-to-shut-down-harmful-myths-about-their-sexuality-on-bivisibilityday
This is also worth your time to read. It details the health struggles and healthcare access difficulties that bisexuals face, as distinct from the rest of the population: http://sf-hrc.org/sites/sf-hrc.org/files/migrated/FileCenter/Documents/HRC_Publications/Articles/Bisexual_Invisiblity_Impacts_and_Recommendations_March_2011.pdf
It is also EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to note that, even though marriage equality is the law of the land now, our work is NOT YET FINISHED! The LGBT+ community still has many rights we have yet to obtain. In places with few LGBT+ protections, such as Texas:
- an LGBT+ person can still be fired for coming out at work or for presenting themselves as married; employment discrimination is not prohibited. We must change this.
- an LGBT+ person can be denied access to housing (such as through eviction or being refused to rent an apartment); housing discrimination is not prohibited. We must change this.
- an LGBT+ person can be denied protection under hate crime laws. Texas laws only protect based on sexual orientation and not gender identity, leaving transpeople without protection. We must change this.
- an LGBT+ person can be denied access to healthcare services, lodging, even to eat at a restaurant; public accommodation discrimination is not prohibited. We must change this.
- an LGBT+ person can be discriminated against at school or harassed and bullied; there is no law addressing harassment and discrimination of students based on sexual orientation or gender identity. We must change this.
- a transperson, LGB+ or straight, can be excluded from healthcare benefits and health insurance policies. We must change this.
- a transperson, LGB+ or straight, cannot change their gender marker on birth certificates or driver's licenses from to reconcile with their gender identity. We must change this.
BUT, in order to change all of this, YOU need to be ACTIVE in politics! Politics and policy shape every single aspect of your life, so have a say in what is done! Don't just stand thinking that you can't make a difference! It's apathy that kills the effort! Get involved! LEAD! FIGHT! Don't know where to start? ASK ME HOW. I WILL HELP YOU. Most importantly, stay informed, and VOTE!
Are you registered to vote at your current address?
If you're not registered at your current address, and you're eligible to vote in the United States and the State of Texas, and you live in Travis or Williamson counties, let me know, and I WILL REGISTER YOU TO VOTE. The importance of civic engagement can not be stated enough.
Zach Rodriguez is a community organizer, activist, and politics wonk from Austin, Texas and can be reached on Twitter at @ZachRodriguez