Bisexuals are a group that occupy a unique position within the world of sexuality. Often being placed somewhere between straight and gay, bisexuals are seen by many as a mix of the two. In reality this is of course untrue.
Bisexuality is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as being sexually attracted to both men and women. But this narrow definition, and other official definitions like it, do not give the whole picture of what a bisexual is, who they are and how their sexuality shapes their lives.
The most common misconception often faced comes exactly from this narrow definition. Many imagine that being bisexual means an equal attraction to all people, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. This is untrue and leads to many of the further misconceptions people hold about bisexuality.
Common misconceptions paint bisexuals as confused, as greedy, as ‘fake gays’ or as trend-chasing straight people. There are a number of hugely damaging stereotypes faced by bisexual people that come from these common misconceptions. But unlike many non-straight individuals bisexuals can sometimes face these same stereotypes from within the LGBT community.
Just like with all forms of sexual orientation a bisexual person’s tastes are influenced by a whole range of nuanced details. Many bisexual people will not conform to the idea of finding each gender equally attractive, they might like one kind of a person more than another, they may even like one gender more than another. Just like with straight and LGBT people one small definition can never completely define an entire group of people. Everyone is different, and although they may share the same defined sexual orientation it does not mean they are the same.
It seems sometimes that the straight world and the rest of the queer community do not have a full understanding of what bisexuality is. People often try to look at something from within the context of their own lives, which is often not enough to fully understand something. Often mainstream straight society will fail to understand the LGBT community because they try to compare them to their own relationships and experiences, making queer people seem foreign and unusual. For bisexual people this can come from both queer and straight people.
And when a group of people are not properly understood they can never be properly accepted. We have seen across the world the way that mainstream society marginalizes and belittles the voice of LGBT people. The queer community fails to be represented within mainstream society because their voice and opinion is not given equal treatment to that of straight society. Bisexuals are in an unfortunate position where at times they face this treatment from both mainstream and LGBT society; they are unrepresented in mainstream society as members of the queer community and also underrepresented within queer circles because of a lack of understanding from the broader LGBT community.
It is important that people in the LGBT world make every effort to include bisexual voices in the LGBT world, just as it is important for LGBT voices to be heard in mainstream society. When gay, lesbian and trans voices begin to dominate the LGBT discussion then bisexual issues become marginalized even further. The rights and needs of bisexual individuals becomes secondary to the rights and needs of gay, lesbian and trans people and the LGBT movement begins in some small part to work against the bisexual community. Bisexuals are ‘put aside’, they are ignored, they become invisible.
It is important that everyone is represented equally and fairly. It is important that the LGBT movement does not become a movement for some and not for others.
Author: Tom Ana