Pages

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Take pride in Bi Visibility Day

Today is Bi Visibility Day – which, since 1999, has been a day to celebrate and recognise bisexuality (and pansexuality), the bisexual community and bisexual history.

Initially set up by three activists in the USA – Wendy Curry, Michael Page and Gigi Raven Wilbur – to challenge what they considered to be “bi invisibility”, Bi Visibility Day is now celebrated internationally and helps to raise awareness of the issues bi people face.

Bi Visibility Day is more than a celebration – it’s a powerful statement. And it’s one that’s as relevant today as it was 16 years ago. It’s about proudly highlighting the B in LGBTI. It’s about putting a face on our bisexual communities. And it’s about challenging the many myths associated with bisexuality – as well as the biphobia such misconceptions inevitably create, both inside and outside the LGBTI community.

I’m bi. I also assume I’m visible, given most people have no difficulty in seeing me. But so often it’s very frustrating when I am perceived as either straight (I’m currently in an opposite-sex, bisexual relationship) or as gay – as any of us who are less than 100 percent bisexual are inevitably labelled.

Bisexuality is often seen as something of a curiosity, an obscure and perhaps confused identity associated with those who can’t make their minds up. There are those who believe bisexuality is mythical or impermanent, who fail to appreciate that sexuality is fluid and that sexual orientation doesn’t always come packaged in tidy boxes. What Bi Visibility Day does is to embrace bisexuality as a real sexual orientation, educate society and erase some of the false stereotypes.

Biphobia is also a very real, and very serious, issue. What Bi Visibility Day has done is to encourage society to become more bi-inclusive – and this is true even within LGBTI organisations, many of which have taken up the challenge to actively reach out to bi people and highlight uniquely bi issues.

For too long it’s been easier to identify as straight or gay – mainly because of societal biphobia. And yet, interestingly, a recent YouGov survey found that half of the UK’s young people do not identify as fully heterosexual – while hardly a measure of active bisexuality, it does point to the reality that many clearly feel uncomfortable with binary notions of gender and orientation. However, the same survey also found that a fifth of young people believed everyone was either straight or gay.

This survey shows the challenges for Bi Visibility Day. There clearly remain myths, misconceptions, prejudices and stigma associated with bisexuality – while the increasing number of people who find themselves somewhere between heterosexuality and homosexuality need to be empowered to proudly embrace their identity.

Improving bi visibility is vital to making life easier for those of us who are attracted to more than one gender, and Bi Visibility Day makes a huge difference in changing attitudes. Unfortunately, many more pro-equality organisations need to proactively embrace it: the shocking lack of any publicised Bi Visibility Day events in Scotland (aside from some Edinburgh-based events hosted by the Centre for LGBT Health and Wellbeing) suggests we need to be taking the issue more seriously that we do.

That said, it’s great to see #bisexuality and #BiVisibilityDay trending on twitter – so at least we’re visible online.

Whatever you’re doing for Bi Visibility Day, be proud and be visible!

No comments: