Biphobia on a losing streak
by Harrie Farrow
In April, GLAAD — who describes itself as “a dynamic media force,” which “tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change” on LGBT issues, stepped up to the plate finally and showed serious concern and respect for the largest group in LGBT — bisexuals.
“Reporting on the Bisexual Community: A resource for journalists and media professionals,” includes, among other bisexual-affirming information, a graph showing that bisexuals are indeed the largest group in LGBT.
This new resource has given the media — both LGBT and the straight press — official guidelines on bisexuality from a well-respected organization journalists are in the habit of referencing for LGBT issues.
For those who don’t pay close attention to bisexual politics, this all might sound like pretty good news, but for us bisexual activists who are well-aware of how often, and when, and why bisexuals are erased, misrepresented, neglected and harassed, GLAAD’s new resource about bisexuality is understood to be a rescue boat on a vast, often volatile, sea of desperation.
In other words, we are thrilled. For years we have been telling writers to use more inclusive language (same-sex marriage verses gay marriage for example), to not label people who come out as bisexual as gay, to not refer to bisexuals as more privileged than gays and lesbians when in fact we have worse health disparities. Now we have a link to send them to, a link where they can see that a source they trust is saying these things too.
The same weekend the guide was released, I was at BECAUSE (Bisexual Empowerment Conference, A Uniting Supportive Experience) in Minneapolis, giving a workshop on bisexual mental health problems. I was presenting a working list of bisexual mental health issues. It’s a long list, a long, sad and scary list. Much of our mental health issues stem from bisexual invisibility, which stems largely from bisexual erasure, which stems from biphobia.
This guide by GLAAD is a great sign that the tide is turning on biphobia. As I contended, in a piece about the long fight for bisexual inclusion in LGBT groups, major LGBT organizations need to step up to the plate if biphobia is going to be stopped.
Not only has GLAAD now done that, but recently the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) which has been criticized in the not too distant past for being too focused only on gay white men, also stepped up to the plate. Within the last 18 months or so, they have issued several valuable resources on bisexuality: Health Disparities Among Bisexual Peoples, Bisexual Visibility in the Work Place, Supporting and Caring for Our Bisexual Youth, and most recently, A Resource Guide for Coming Out as Bisexual.
It’s taken a lot of tireless work to get to this place — the above resources, including GLAAD’s, were produced in association with the leaders at three major bisexual organizations: the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), BiNet U.S.A, and the Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP).
And so, hallelujah, we are beginning to win the war on biphobia. However, we still have a long fight ahead of us. These wonderful new developments are just the beginning. We need to continue to fight to see more, and on-going, support for the bisexual community from within LGBT organizations, which hopefully will prompt more support, acceptance and celebration of bisexuality from the straight world too.
The Gayly - 5/17/2016 @ 1:03 p.m. CDT