Pride Month: Let’s Talk About Bisexual Erasure

Written by Brittany Brown

 

 

 

 

 

LGBTQ: This has become the universal moniker by which we identify our queer community. Most of us already know what each of the letters in this abbreviation means and can mindlessly rattle them off with little to no difficulty. But, do we properly recognize the value of the individuals in each of these subsets?

Bisexual Erasure is a topic that has gained momentum and cropped up over forums and online communities everywhere. What exactly is bisexual erasure, and who’s guilty of it? It may not necessarily be deliberate, but bisexual erasure can ultimately be summed up as a dismissal of an individual’s sexual orientation, specifically as it concerns those who identify as bisexual. As to who’s guilty of dismissing these experiences, we can all share the blame, both inside and outside of the LGBTQ community – myself included, at one time.

In my own formative years, being any shade of queer was becoming less of a taboo and more widely accepted. Well, at least less taboo for what the history of my small, southern town had shown. Stories swirled in and around the school like gale force winds, coming out stories of every variety. But one thing you could count on in a conversation with a newly outed bisexual teen is that his or her parents immediately defaulted to the excuse that he or she was “just going through a phase.” The idea of the temporarily free-spirited bisexual is one that has perpetuated itself over time, never letting up.

If it was more than just a phase, which is true much of the time, if said person continues to identify as bisexual well outside of their teenage years, heterosexual society’s default suddenly changes. “She’s just a whore; she wants to sleep with anyone. She doesn’t care what’s between their legs.” “He wants to date a man and woman at the same time!” Almost overnight, these folks are regarded as wholly incapable of monogamy, as if because they identify as bisexual, they can’t hold down a long-term relationship due to this faulty perception of indecision.

Even more troubling is the dismissal of bisexual individuals inside of the LGBTQ community. Many past fellow lesbian friends of my own have warned against dating any female who identifies as bisexual. They would describe anecdotal tales of heartbreak and infidelity at the hands of bisexual women (the perfect example of exclusion bias – have we not all seen heartache from even the most gold-star lesbians and gays out there?. “Don’t ever date one,” they would say. Add to this that, as the queer community, we believe wholeheartedly in the power of community pride, banding together like soldiers on a battlefield and congregating afterwards at any number of venues to celebrate. Immediately, as soon as there is an utterance of the word bisexual, there’s a silent agreement amongst many that this person isn’t truly part of the community – they’re still half-straight. They don’t belong; they don’t know true discrimination because they may not always have a partner that is the same-sex.

This has to stop. Bisexual erasure is real; we do it without even really thinking about the consequences. We are not a community based in this idea of exclusion. We cultivated a community based on shared experiences, on love, on pride in our individual differences. Being bisexual is no different. We welcome allies to the party before we accept the identity of a bisexual person. Let’s change that.

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