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Bisexual+ Health Awareness Month: 5 Stigmatising Bi+ Myths and How to be an Ally

Bisexual Health Awareness Month is a campaign observed throughout March to raise awareness about bi+ people and the bi+ community’s social, economic, and health disparities. The campaign aims to advocate for resources, and inspire actions to improve bi+ people’s well-being.

Manchester Pride is committed to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester and beyond. For Bisexual Health Awareness month, we have engaged with bi+ members of our team and the community to deliver a month long campaign that aims to challenge discrimination that bi+ people face, promote the advancement of bi+ equality, raise awareness and support for bi+ mental health, support grassroots projects and initiatives that encourage the wellbeing of bi+ people in Greater Manchester.

The second post in our series focuses on some common bisexual+ myths that the community faces, and how we can all work to be better allies to the bisexual community in the face of stigmatising and discriminatory ideas.

Did you know?

Did you know that bisexual people are known to face ‘double discrimination’? As well as facing discrimination and abuse from heterosexual people, it is also true that bisexual+ people face discrimination from within the LGBTQ+ community, too.

As a result, bisexual+ people are far less likely than gay men or lesbian women to be out to their family, friends, their work colleagues, their place of education, or within faith communities.

Statistics show...

Only one in five bisexual people (20%) are out to all their family compared to three in five gay men and lesbians. (63%) - Stonewall

Two in five bisexual people (42%) hide or disguise their sexual orientation at work for fear of discrimination. - Stonewall

Biphobia and common Bi+ myths

Bisexual+ people make up a whopping 50% of the LGBTQ+ community, and therefore it is no surprise that biphobia and bierasure are such prevalent issues. Biphobia is a prejudicial attitude toward people that identify as bisexual+ based on negative and incorrect stereotypes, and bisexual+ people often encounter unique myths that are not typically experienced by other sections of the LGBTQ+ community.

We all have a part to play in the fight to end biphobic prejudice, and we hope that this blog aids you in becoming a better ally to bisexual+ people. Be sure to call out misinformation and stereotypes like the below myths whenever you encounter them - your bi+ friends will thank you for it.



Myth: ‘Bisexual people are only attracted to two genders.’

One common misconception bi+ people face is the belief that the ‘bi’ in bisexuality refers exclusively to ‘two’ genders, as in ‘men’ and ‘women’. Some people argue that, because the prefix of ‘bi’ in ‘bisexual’ comes from the greek prefix for ‘two’, this reinforces the gender binary.

In reality, many words that describe sexuality were originally rooted in the gender binary. This was due to limited understanding of gender at the time by larger society. For example: “heterosexuality” has the prefix hetero- which comes from Greek, meaning “the other of two; different.” However, the historical and cultural definition of the term bisexual has always referred to more than one gender, and the current definition is not specifically binary. ~ The Trevor Project

It’s widely known that gender and attraction are not limited to binaries, and therefore bisexuality as a general term signifies attraction to two or more genders, rather than two genders alone. Whist attraction to only men and women may be true for some bisexuals, this is definitely not the case for the entire community.

Allies! Challenge this myth by explaining that, like other sexualities, bisexuality is a spectrum and is not defined by binaries.



Myth: ‘Bisexuality is transphobic and does not include attraction to trans and gender non-conforming people.’

Bisexuality does not equate to dating exclusively within the gender binary, and to assume this erases the experiences of a vast proportion of the bisexual+ community.

This belief erases nonbinary, gender non-conforming, agender and genderfluid people, and all of the people who fall under the trans umbrella. Many bisexual+ people are transgender themselves, and many date transgender people.

Nonbinary is an umbrella term encompassing many individual gender identities, including but not limited to: bigender, pangender, genderfluid, agender and gender neutral, to name a few. The meaning of “bisexual” and “biromantic” can of course include nonbinary people, which is why bisexuality and biromanticism are about experiencing attraction to two or more genders.

Allies! Challenge this myth by using inclusive language and explaining that bisexuality has always, and will always include trans people.



Myth: ‘Bisexuality means an equal split in attraction to men and women.’

The assumption that all bisexual+ people are ‘half gay’ and ‘half straight’ is an extremely damaging concept. As bisexuals, we often get asked what ‘percentage of gay’ and what ‘percentage of straight’ we are. The truth is that bisexual+ people are… 100% bisexual+.

Sexuality exists on a spectrum, and it’s important to remember that experiences of bisexuality vary widely and often include different types of attraction to different genders, in different ways.

Some bisexual people are overwhelmingly attracted to men and occasionally attracted to women. Some bisexual people are overwhelmingly attracted to women and occasionally attracted to men. Some prefer to date genderqueer or gender non-conforming partners. The spectrum of bisexual people includes all kinds of individual preferences. The only thing that bisexual people have in common is that they are attracted to people of more than one gender. ~ GLAAD


Allies!
Use the above pie chart as a reference and challenge this myth by explaining that bisexual+ attraction comes in many different forms.



Myth: ‘Bisexual people are unfaithful, promiscuous, and more likely to cheat on their partners.’ ‘Bisexual people can’t be satisfied in a relationship with one gender.’

This is one of the most common myths about bisexuality, likely stemming from the beliefs that bisexual+ people ‘can’t make up their minds’, that bisexuality is a ‘path to becoming gay or lesbian’, or that bisexual+ people are ‘attracted to anyone and everyone’. These ideas are, of course, incorrect.

Sadly, bisexual+ people have been and continue to be oversexualised in pop culture and wider society as a result - leading to myths like this one. Bisexuals are not immoral, deceiving or promiscuous by nature, and are no more likely to engage in multiple relationships at one time than those who are gay, lesbian or heterosexual. Being bisexual+ is all about who a person is sexually or romantically attracted to, and has nothing to do with moral behaviours whilst dating.

Allies! Challenge this myth by unlearning any internal prejudices surrounding bi+ relationships, calling out misinformation when you see it, and actively encouraging and supporting your bi+ friends’ relationships, regardless of gender.



Myth: ‘A person must have been in a relationship with both a man and a woman to be bisexual.’

Bisexual+ people should not have to prove their dating history to have their sexuality believed or taken seriously. Some people go significant portions of their life before they realise they are bisexual+, some know before they are ever in a relationship, and many bisexual+ people know they experience attraction to more than one gender from a very young age.

It is not necessary to have had a sexual or romantic experience with a man or a woman before identifying as bisexual+, and to perpetuate this myth is extremely harmful to bi+ people. This myth can lead bisexual+ people to feel uncomfortable about coming out, and like their experience of bisexuality is ‘fake’ or only real if they meet certain requirements. A person’s bisexual+ identity is valid regardless of their dating history, or the gender of their current partner.

Allies! If a friend or a loved one shares their bisexual+ identity with you, be sure to uplift them and affirm their identity - you never know how much they may need to hear it.



Resources

If you are looking to engage with like-minded people, happen to be questioning your sexuality, unsure of where to find support, confused or just looking for a little more information, you can find help and support from the following local groups.

BiPhoria is the UK's longest-running bi organisation - check out their website for information.

The Q42 Project - queer culture meets wellbeing peer support in a weekly group for LGBTQ+ people aged 13-18. 

LGBT Foundation provides a wide range of support services to lesbian, gay, bi and trans + people.

LGBT Switchboard provides information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men and bisexual and trans people – and anyone considering issues around their sexuality and/or gender identity.

The Proud Trust is a life saving and life enhancing organisation that helps LGBT+ young people empower themselves, to make a positive change for themselves, and their communities.


Bisexual+ resources for Allies

The Trevor Project have put together an extremely useful and informative document on how you can better support bisexual+ people - especially bi+ youth.

Here’s another great resource on how to be a Bi+ ally.
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