Post submitted by Ryan Carey-Mahoney, Senior Writer for HRC’s Online Strategy team and one of two co-chairs of HRC’s Bi+ Employee Resource Group.
About a month ago, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a hashtag that seemed tailor-made for me: #BisexualMenExist. With just a click, I found stories and photos of bi+ men from all over who were reclaiming and affirming their identity to the world.
Even in 2020, bisexual, pansexual, queer and fluid-identified men still have to prove our existence.
For many, growing up bi+ means having a hard time finding the right words to describe yourself. For some bi+ men, that means pushing part of you aside to live a life in the closet — and for others, that means coming out as something we’re told is more “real” like gay, or to a shrieking chorus of “it’s just a phase” invalidation.
For much of my adolescence, I chose the former. I told myself it wasn’t *that* hard to be closeted: I could enjoy dates with girls my age because I was attracted to them and had mostly male friends (as I’d come to learn, many of whom were also in the closet.)
But, whether I wanted it to or not, my truth pushed its way to the surface and ravaged my mental health. During my senior year of college, I started experiencing intense bouts of depression, irritability and self-hatred — at my lowest, I felt like I didn’t want to live at all and I began to take it out on my body.
There came a point where I knew I had to choose: live my life as an out bisexual man or, potentially, have no life to live at all. Almost to the day that I first saw the #BisexualMenExist hashtag, I celebrated my six-year anniversary of coming out for the very first time, and, despite some hurdles that came with it, I’ve never looked back.
My story, unfortunately, isn’t a unique one. While I am out and proud now, many in the bi+ community are suffering — mentally, physically and emotionally — in silence.
Bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer people comprise the largest group in the LGBTQ community, yet we are consistently erased from conversations and come out at a lower rate than those who identify as lesbian or gay.
We experience greater health disparities and face higher rates of mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, cancers and more. Yet, 39% of bi+ men and 31% of bi+ women have not disclosed their sexual orientation to their doctors — almost three times the rate of gays and lesbians who haven’t disclosed.
Over 68% of overall bi+ youth report being teased or treated poorly because of their sexual orientation, while bi+ youth of color and gender-expansive bi+ youth face even more hardships related to other key aspects of their identities.
We, as a collective community, need to do better. And there’s no better time to engage than right now as we commemorate Bisexual Health Awareness Month in March. Together, we need to uplift bi+ voices in our lives, consider the unique health and economic issues facing those in the bi+ community and do our part to dismantle biphobia every chance we get.
For me, that starts with sharing my story here and with the hope that doing so compels others to share theirs. Not to prove that we exist, but to get us to a world where our existence isn’t even questioned.