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Guest Blogger Bio: Anna P. is a bisexual activist living in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
Of course, some of you reading this are bisexual. So am I. But for those who aren’t, you may be wondering how to be our allies. Here are some suggestions (by the way, if any other bisexuals have suggestions they’d like to add, please feel free to say so in the comments.)
- Keep in mind that bisexuality exists when considering someone’s possible sexual orientation. If a person is in a same-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re gay. If a person is in an opposite-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re straight. If a person once dated a man but is now dating a woman, or vice versa, don’t assume one of those relationships was a sham and the other represents their true orientation. If a woman is in a sexual relationship with a man, don’t assume anything she does with a woman is just a show put on for his benefit (by the way, don’t forget polyamory exists too.)
- Don’t tell someone they’re not really bisexual. You don’t know their feelings. Even if someone has only dated men (or women), it doesn’t mean they’re not also attracted to the other sex.
- Don’t claim bisexual people aren’t really part of the LGBT community. Even if someone is dating an opposite-sex partner, they can still face biphobia. Being in a straight relationship doesn’t erase a bisexual person’s orientation or mean they can’t be oppressed or don’t need LGBT rights. (For example, I was fired when my employer found out I was bisexual from a post on Facebook. Sadly, this is legal in my state. Did the fact that I was dating a man at the time save my bacon? It did not.) This is also another opportunity for inclusive language – when you’re fighting for people not to be fired, excluded from the Boy Scouts, etc. due to their sexual orientation, say that. Don’t say you’re fighting for gay people specifically, or only talk about gay people being oppressed/excluded.
- Don’t buy into myths about bisexuals. No, we’re not incapable of being monogamous, at least not any more than straight or gay people are. No, we’re not out to sex up everybody we meet (again, at least not any more than straight or gay people are.) No, we’re not all confused, indecisive, or going through a phase. If someone thinks of themselves as straight but later realizes they’re actually gay or bisexual, does that mean being straight is just confusion, indecision, or a phase most people who identify as straight will grow out of?
- Use inclusive language. Unless you know for a fact that both members of a couple are gay, refer to them as a same-sex couple, not a gay or lesbian couple. Likewise, use “same-sex marriage” rather than “gay marriage”, “LGBT rights” rather than “gay rights,” “the LGBT community” rather than “the gay community”, “pride” or “LGBT pride” rather than “gay pride”, “homophobia and biphobia” rather than just “homophobia”, and so forth. When naming an organization or group, use “LGBT” rather than “gay” if applicable (for example, a “LGBT-Straight Alliance” rather than a “Gay-Straight Alliance”.)
- Don’t forget bisexual pride. Remember, it’s LGBT Pride Month (June) and LGBT History Month (October), not just gay pride and history. If your organization or school is acknowledging LGBT pride and/or history, don’t forget to include the contributions of bisexuals. And did you know September 23rd is Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Unfortunately, few people do. You don’t have to go all out – even a Facebook post acknowledging the day could do a lot to raise awareness.
- If you are part of or support an LGBT rights organization, push them to include bisexuals. Encourage them to use inclusive language (including in the name of their organization), recruit bisexual people as members and staff, dedicate a reasonable amount of time and energy to bi-specific issues, celebrate bisexual pride, and speak out against biphobia. Consider finding another organization if they don’t.
Remember, bisexuals are part of the queer community, not to mention mainstream society. Try your best to fight biphobia within yourself and society at large, just as you no doubt fight transphobia, homophobia, sexism, racism, and so forth. Good luck and thanks for reading.
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