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Bisexual Health Awareness Month: What it means to be Bi+

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 first post in our series focuses on what it means to be bi+, who sits under the bi+ umbrella, and the importance of understanding labels.

What is bisexuality?

Bisexuality is a term used to describe the romantic and/or sexual attraction a person may feel towards two or more genders. This definition can include a variety of terms such as Bisexual, Pansexual, Queer, Omnisexual, and Polysexual identities.

Throughout history, bisexuality is often referred to as attraction to “same and different” sex/genders rather than exclusively “men and women” — meaning attraction to people of your own gender and to people with gender(s) different than your own. This can include men, women, non-binary people and many more gender identities.

We love bisexual advocate Robyn Ochs’ widely quoted definition of bisexuality:

“The potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”

What does it mean to be bisexual+?

People of any gender and those who identify outside of the gender binary can identify as bisexual+, and experience attraction to two or more genders. Bisexuality can mean different things to different people, and that’s great!

Bisexual+ attraction comes in many different forms. Some people take comfort in making their own personal form of attraction clear, and may choose to identify with a label under the bisexual+ umbrella that reflects this.

Understanding labels

Whilst many people take comfort and solace in labels, many people do not feel the need to use them. Some people feel comfortable identifying with one or several labels, whilst others feel pressure or discomfort at the thought of assigning yourself a label. Claiming a label and not using one at all are both valid and completely normal!

You may hear people say that they previously identified as bisexual, but now consider themselves to be pansexual. Sexuality can be fluid and our comfortability with certain labels (or not using them at all) can change as we grow and learn more about ourselves and our sexualities over time.

Labels often help people to show the world who they are, to understand themselves a little better, to feel less alone and part of a community.

To encourage greater understanding of what it means to be bisexual+, we’ve put together some of the various terms and labels that you may come across, that many consider to fall under the bisexual+ umbrella.

Bisexual
Bisexuality is the potential for romantic or sexual attraction to people of one's own gender identity and of other gender identities.

Pansexual
Pansexuality is sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.

Queer
Queer is often used as an umbrella term to describe sexuality and gender identities other than heterosexual and cisgendered.

Fluid
Fluid is a term used to describe the fluidity of a person’s gender or sexuality. Gender-fluidity refers to a person's  gender identity or gender expression varying over time, whereas Abrosexuality can refer to a person’s sexuality being fluid and changing over time.

Omnisexual
Omnisexual refers to someone who is romantically, emotionally, or sexually attracted to persons of all genders and orientations.

Polysexual
Polysexuality has been defined as "encompassing or characterized by many different kinds of sexuality", and as sexual attraction to many, but not all, genders.

What are romantic orientations?

Alongside sexual orientations, people may also label their romantic orientations, too.
Romantic orientation describes an individual's pattern of romantic attraction based on a person's gender(s), regardless of one's sexual orientation.

Not all people have sexual orientations, and many define as asexual. Sexual attraction is about finding a specific person sexually appealing and wanting to engage in sex with them, however someone who is asexual experiences little to no sexual attraction. Experiences of asexuality and what it means to be asexual can vary from person to person, however many asexual people desire romantic relationships. Romantic orientations are a way for asexual people to communicate who they prefer to date or form relationships with. Being attracted to more than one sex/gender can be sexual or romantic, and all sit under the bi+ umbrella.

Romantic orientation under the bisexual umbrella

Sexuality and attraction is experienced in many different forms, and people may also choose to label their romantic attraction and emotional attraction alongside their sexual orientation. The term Biromantic is used to describe those who are romantically attracted to people of their own gender, and other gender identities. Identifying as biromantic is different to being bisexual, as it refers to romantic attraction rather than sexual attraction.

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. You can find more information on their website here: https://www.biphoria.org.uk

The Q42 Project - queer culture meets wellbeing peer support in a weekly group for LGBTQ+ people aged 13-18. http://www.q42.org.uk/

LGBT Foundation provides a wide range of support services to lesbian, gay, bi and trans + people. https://lgbt.foundation/

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.
https://switchboard.lgbt/

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.
https://www.theproudtrust.org/
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