Post submitted by Ellyn Ruthstrom, President, Bisexual Resource Center
Thirty-three bisexual activists from around the country gathered for the historic first White House Roundtable on Bisexual Issues last September. Some of the startling research we shared at that meeting included:
- Forty-five percent of bisexual women have considered or attempted suicide, followed by bisexual men (35%), lesbians (30%), gay men (25%), and much lower rates for heterosexual women and men.
- Bisexual women are twice as likely to have an eating disorder than lesbians.
- Bisexual women report higher rates of alcohol use, heavy drinking, and alcohol-related problems than heterosexual and lesbian women.
- Bisexual men and women report the highest rates of smoking of all orientations.
One of the overriding imperatives coming out of the meeting was to draw attention to the severe health disparities affecting the bisexual community. The evidence we presented had a clear message: our community is suffering and we can no longer afford to be the invisible majority of the LGBTQ community.
To keep these issues in the forefront, the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) has designated March as Bisexual Health Awareness Month. (The BRC celebrates and affirms the diversity of identity and expression regardless of labels, and uses “bisexual” as an umbrella term for people who recognize and honor their potential for sexual and emotional attraction to more than one gender: pansexual, fluid, omnisexual, queer, and all other free-identifiers.) Bisexual Health Awareness Month is the first social media event of its kind, designed to raise widespread awareness about bisexual health disparities using Facebook and Twitter. This year’s theme—“Bi the Way, Our Health Matters Too!"—highlights the unique ways that the bisexual community experiences physical and mental health disparities and will encourage more research and services be developed to address them.
Bisexuals have often been misunderstood, marginalized, and discriminated against in both heterosexual and LGBTQ spaces. Despite actively working within the LGBTQ equality movement for decades, bisexuals have frequently been ignored or considered a small subgroup of the community. Yet, the Williams Institute has found that approximately half of self-identified LGBTQ Americans identify as bisexual. This reluctance to address the needs of a large part of the community has resulted in many bisexuals feeling alienated and alone, which contributes to a high incidence of depression, substance abuse, suicide, and other high-stress indicators.
For the past few years, there has been a new and positive trend for some LGBTQ research to break down health data into separate gay, straight, and bisexual orientations. This has been significant for the bisexual community because it has uncovered hidden issues within our midst that are greatly affecting our lives.
We want to emphasize that the health needs of the transgender community are also important to be aware of, as the trans community experiences extremely high health disparities across the board. The bisexual and transgender communities have historically worked together for visibility and we want to continue that alliance. A high percentage of transgender people identify as bisexual, pansexual, or queer. Many bi people are partnered with transgender and genderqueer people, so these disparities often hit our families from several directions.
The Bisexual Health Awareness campaign is focusing on these health issues throughout the month of March:
- March 10-14: Safer Sex & Sexual Health
- March 17-21: Nutrition & Physical Activity
- March 24-28: Intimate Partner Violence & Sexual Violence
We invite supporters who are interested from across the country and around the world to become involved with the discussion on Facebook and Twitter at @BRC_Central (with hashtag #bihealthmonth) and help to spread awareness in your own communities. Our health matters, too!
The Bisexual Resource Center has been advocating for bisexual visibility and raising awareness about bisexuality throughout the LGBT and straight communities since 1985. The Bisexual Resource Center envisions a world where love is celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.