Bisexual Awareness Week is upon us again! From 19 to 26 September, join #BiWeek 2016 sponsors, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in celebrating bisexuality.
Being aware and accepting of sexualities different from our own is something that the queer and wider community are still grappling with. Even from within our own rainbow community, certain groups still experience discrimination because of their sexualities.
Bisexual people still fall victim to bigotry, misunderstanding and phobia on a frequent basis. Often considered ‘sitting on the fence’ or ‘experimenting’, bisexual people are often not taken seriously. On top of this, common rhetoric surrounding bisexuality includes promiscuity, greediness and a heightened risk of contracting an STI. What the hell, right?
Bisexual Awareness Week aims to dispel common but largely untrue stereotypes around bisexuality and seeks to accelerate acceptance of the bi+ (pansexual, bisexual, and fluid inclusive) community by educating the public about the realities of bisexuality and helping to change conceptions.
“People attracted to more than one gender are freaking everywhere, but we don’t come out to as many people as other queer folks do,” says Sandra Dickson, member of the Wellington Bisexual Women’s Group. She says that as a result of rampant biphobia or the aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people.
“Often when we come out, people tell us it’s just a phase and we’ll make up our minds one day. People tell us we’re really something else.”
Even with an increase in visibility through many celebrities coming out as bisexual in previous years, it is the acceptance of bisexuality as a valid sexuality that stands in the way of inclusion. Bisexual people sometimes feel as if they are invalid and unable to find their space in the world.
“Even though we’re awesome, bisexual, pansexual, fluid and other non-monosexual people have the worst rankings for mental health, partner and sexual violence, alcohol and drug use statistics of all sexualities.
“It’s harder for us to find community to belong in, and that makes us more isolated and vulnerable. Not having our identity respected, including past lovers and their importance to us, creates shame and self-doubt.”
Accepting the legitimacy of bisexuality is the first step towards helping our bisexual friends and family feel comfortable and valid. Recognise unintentional biphobia in questions like “are you straight now that you are dating a man?” or “but surely you are more gay than straight, right?” Bisexual Awareness works to show people that misconceptions about bisexual people are a result of poor representation in popular media and puritanical ideals.
“It should actually be Biphobia Awareness Week I think, because that’s the thing that needs to change,” says Dickson.
Wellington Bisexual Women and allies can head along to a special Bisexual Appreciation Day pot luck lunch. More information can be found on their their Facebook group.
Celebrate Bisexual Awareness Week, 19 to 26 September by attending a bi-affirming event near you! express will update you with any events happening around New Zealand to celebrate the week. But for now, you can supporting the bisexual community by tweeting #BiWeek.