“We inhabit a world in which we tend to put labels on each other and expect that we will then march through life wearing them” – Nick Webb, Author.
The concept of fluid sexuality does not deter many people from fuelling negative tags and stereotypes. It is either homosexuality or heterosexuality – with no in-betweens.
This leaves bisexual people in a tough spot. The gender of the person they are currently in a relationship with is what will determine the hetero or homo tag. Call it bisexual invisibility – the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify or re-explain evidence of bisexuality.
At its extreme, bisexual invisibility means the belief that bisexuality itself does not exist. So, bisexuals often find themselves struggling for acceptance within both the queer community and the straight community. The general consensus from both sides is that they are indecisive. They are accused of being either a closeted homosexual who wishes to appear heterosexual or a heterosexual only experimenting with their sexuality; or ‘fetishising’.
In same-sex debates, the fact that bisexuals have access to heterosexual privilege is problematic. The fact that the pool of potential same-sex partners is much smaller than the pool of potential opposite-sex partners apparently does not matter. As far as they are concerned, bisexuals do not deserve equal status or inclusion within their community.
For heterosexuals, aside from typical queer discrimination, bisexuals, in particular, are sometimes seen as promiscuous people who have a higher tendency to be unfaithful in relationships.
As one would expect, being sandwiched between these two different communities, not fully accepted by either, can make dating and life in general hard for them.
Research shows that bisexuals are less likely to ‘come out’ to their family and friends than homosexuals and that’s because they fear being discriminated or worse, being waved off as ‘going through a phase’. This means there are likely more bisexual people than we think, who have remained ‘closeted’ within either the heterosexual or homosexual communities to avoid this extra bit of stigma.
They have also been reported to have lower levels of life satisfaction and a higher risk of mental health problems than either their homosexual or heterosexual counterparts.
The fact that there are people who identify as bisexual is all the evidence that is needed to prove that bisexuality exists. But even if it’s not enough, there is considerable scientific evidence.
Yes, sexuality is fluid and nuanced. It’s not just a case of one or the other.
So, as we make progress in our fight for queer acceptance, let us not forget this often silent ‘B’ in LGBTQ+. Let us get rid of the stereotypes used to paint them and stop pressuring them to choose a side because denying them of the truth of their sexuality is to deny the truth that sexuality is fluid.