- March 14, 2018
Bisexual Health Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about the startling disparities that the bisexual community faces in terms of both physical and mental health.
When compared against statistics for both heterosexual populations and their lesbian and gay peers, startling trends emerge in social, economic and health inequities. Bisexual-identified people face higher rates of mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, cancers and much more.
Those numbers are even higher for the bisexual people who are also transgender, people of color or people with disabilities, making these groups vulnerable to further disparities that occur at the intersections of biphobia, racism and transphobia.
The Bisexual Resource Center defines biphobia as “mislabeling bi+ people as lesbian, gay or straight, even when they come out as bi+.” Biphobia seeks to undermine the legitimacy of bisexual, queer, pansexual and fluid identities, and it comes in many forms: jokes, stereotypes, non-inclusive language and even abuse.
Below, members of HRC’s staff share tools they have found to empower each other to overcome biphobia and build community:
“Building a bi+ community starts with creating an environment where everyone is welcomed for being something simple: themselves. It's tough at times, but demanding your identity is seen is one of the most powerful weapons in ending biphobia. By speaking up proudly as a bi+ person, you teach others -- particularly those younger than you -- that it's OK for them to do the same. You, just by being and affirming you, can empower others to stand up and be themselves, too.”
— Ryan Carey-Mahoney, HRC Senior Online Strategy Writer
“I build community by helping create spaces for my bisexual/queer/pansexual/fluid family to show up authentically. Being visible and vocal about our identities and experiences is not only an important part of overcoming biphobia, but an important part of our queer joy and queer thriving. I'm quick to speak up if someone mislabels me or someone else because it's important to make sure others know we're here and just as much a part of the LGBTQ community. I live authentically and try to create the relationships and spaces in my life for others to do the same.
— Ana Flores, HRC Diversity & Engagement Manager
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers, They/Them/Theirs
“Challenging bi-erasure by making our presence known is one of the most important ways to overcome biphobia. People assume our sexual identities based upon who we're with in the moment and forget that bi people are bisexual no matter who we're dating. As a queer man, if I date a man, people assume I'm gay. If I date a woman, people assume I'm straight. We can't make community if we can't find each other, so I hope that others can feel empowered to come out to their friends and families to give more visibility to a large, but often invisible, community.”
— Charles Girard, HRC Digital Organizer
“In order to overcome biphobia, we must first recognize the diversity of the bi+ community. My lived experience as a bisexual, cisgender, white woman that fits within the binary of traditionally feminine gender expression can be -- and often is -- worlds different than the experiences of a bisexual person with a different race, age, economic status, religion, gender identity or expression. What we all have in common is our experiences of invisibility and bi-erasure. Both as a society and as the LGBTQ community, we must take a step back, create space and uplift voices around us that are too often unheard.”
— Chantel Mattiola, HRC Major Gifts Stewardship Manager, Co-chair of HRC’s Bisexual/Queer/Pansexual/Fluid Employee Resource Group
“One way that I try to build bi community and to overcome biphobia is by wearing bi-related shirts. I will often times tell people that they can’t assume someone’s sexuality even when they are holding hands with a partner of the same or other gender. You can’t see if someone is bisexual; they have to tell you. When friends are seeking doctors, I try to help them find ones that are LGBTQ-friendly so they can be open and get the right health care they need.”
— Laya Monarez, HRC Membership Outreach Coordinator, Co-chair of HRC’s Bisexual/Queer/Pansexual/Fluid Employee Resource Group
“Sharing my story is the most powerful way that I’ve found to build community with other bisexual and queer people. Growing up, I didn’t see myself reflected in any of the stories I loved to read. I didn’t know anyone else that colored outside the lines, so to speak. It was by meeting and knowing proud, openly bisexual people that I began to feel like I could be that same example for someone else on their journey.”
— Helen Parshall, HRC Digital Media Manager
“For me, visibility is one of the most important ways to build community with my bi+ family. We need to trust each other, even if it's hard and we feel alone. I started identifying as bisexual when I was fifteen, but it's only in recent months that I've started to be open about my identity. My outlook changed when my cousin came out to me as bisexual. Suddenly, I saw that I could set an example by being out and proud as a bisexual woman. Since then, I've started wearing a bi pin at work and I've started telling more people that I'm bi. I've found, to my surprise, that being more open has caused my own fears to abate.”
— Madeleine Roberts, HRC Communications Assistant
“Visibility and representation are the most important things we can do to address biphobia. Knowing an LGBTQ person makes you more likely to support equality -- and that principle applies to bisexual people as well. By living openly every day, we can change the narrative that we don't exist -- or only exist as negative stereotypes -- and create community with other bi+ people.”
— Allison Turner, HRC Deputy Press Secretary
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers, They/Them/Theirs
For more information, please visit hrc.org/bisexual.