If there is something I learned during the last 5 years it is never judge a book by its cover.
Being bisexual can mean you’re mostly being judged by the book title without even looking at the cover or reading the synopsis. I wish that would change. Honestly, I never thought being bisexual was such a big deal for me. Yes, it hurt me when people (mostly straight men) mistook me for a nymphomaniac or the fact I lost some friends because of their fear I would try to hit on them out of the blue. But it became a big deal. I read an article titled “13 things not to say to a bisexual” and realized how many of these things I had heard personally more than once. When I pointed this out to others, I got a full load of biphobia and bi-erasure. I was used to this from straight people, but now it came from members of the LGBTQ+ community–people whom I thought would stand on the same side as I – aiming for equality. My experiences were dismissed as not being relevant and that bi femmes like me have it much easier because we have “straight privilege.” I was belittled, accused, and called names by people to whom I had turned to find common ground. People would dismiss any kind of discrimination. There were some very supportive voices, but the negative ones got stuck in my head and I was disappointed. Ever since, I have become very sensitive to the little undertones, gestures, and micro reactions I receive when I disclose my bisexuality. And a lot of them were not just unpleasant, but flat out hostile.
I grew up in Germany and lived there for the most part of my life until I moved to Switzerland in 2017. Sadly, we lack many organizations which offer a platform for bisexuals or any other non-binary sexual orientation. When I dived further into the matter, I came across many alarming statistics and I reached out to local LGBTQ+ groups and organizations to include bi issues in their work. However, I was met with disinterest. I was told that bi issues are insignificant. Bisexuals and our struggles didn’t matter to them even though these local groups claimed to be inclusive.
Bisexuals make the largest population inside the LGBTQ+ community but have the lowest number of coming out rates. How are we supposed to come out in safety if the people we turn to in need of support are tell us that we don’t matter? To the people who confronted me with biphobia and bi-erasure, telling me they’ve never met a real bisexual, I often responded that they have probably met a few who did not disclose it to them because of the often hostile environment inside the greater LGBTQ+ community. Many bisexuals decide to falsely label themselves as straight, lesbian or gay because that’s easier to accept. My partner labeled himself as gay for a very long time and paid a high price for it. But that seemed easier to him than to face another disappointment after coming out initially as bisexual years ago. Very often bisexuals are not welcome at queer events, excluded in discussions of marriage equality or health issues, and much more. It is gut wrenching for me because bisexuals have fought alongside gays and lesbians: celebrating victories together, mourning tragedies inside our diverse community together, standing together in crisis. But the greater LGBTQ+ seems to rarely discuss specific bi issues like low coming out rates, rates of sexual assault and domestic violence among bi women, and substance abuse rates among bisexuals.
I remember reading an article about the low number of bi supporting groups participating in London Pride. I then I read statements from bi activists who were told their wish to participate was “demanding.” Personally, I find Pride events complicated. My partner is of the opposite gender and also bisexual but since we don’t wear neon colored signs on our forehead, we are typically identified as a straight couple. We aren’t, and this relationship hasn’t made us even 0.0001% straighter than before. However, when we go to Pride events, we are either viewed as a straight couple of allies or as lesbian bringing her straight or gay bestie with her (or vice versa). But if we decide to openly identify as bisexuals, whether through the bi flag or clothes, we’re met with resentment at best and openly displayed hate at worst. We’ve been called names and been spat at. It breaks my heart because I think there is more that unites than divides us. My vision of Pride events as an opportunity to unite and celebrate our diversity and our victories was shattered in those moments, and I was a grown woman at that time. I can’t imagine how that must feel for younger individuals who struggle with their own sexuality and are looking for people to support and encourage them.
Simply put, it isn’t enough to have a letter inside the LGBTQ+ acronym. It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have a real space where we can openly talk about what matters to us. We deserve our voices to be heard and we deserve the spot that the acronym is meant to give us. Bisexuals have stood for all of our brothers and sisters when we saw how injustice targeted them, have spoken up when queer characters have been falsely and harmfully portrayed, and many other things. I hope for a change which will lead to bisexuals being recognized as full members of the LGBTQ+ movement. We often talk about how we’re united under that rainbow flag, but this should mean more to us than just words we use to look good to the public. We all are different and some of our daily battles and challenges aren’t the same, but we should stand strong for each other, be the shoulder to lean on regardless of who we love. We demand respect, acceptance and equal treatment from straight people, so it shouldn’t be a challenge for us to do the same for each other.
I think what every single of us can do is to stay open minded and never become tired to talk about our issues. We have to stay visible and we should encourage others to do the same. And if we don’t receive the support from outside our own group, we need to organize. Many bisexual groups exist that are a great inspiration for how we can network to strengthen each other. We’ve already seen some change for the better, but we still have a long way to go. Luckily, none of us has to go alone.
NekoFireFoxy, 37 years old, currently lives with her husband in Zurich, Switzerland where she works as a back-office administrator. She identifies as bisexual and never hid it because how you love isn’t a threat to anyone else.