Bisexuals: The Silent Majority
Out of all the members of the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ community, (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer /Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, etc ) there is one group that is discriminated against even within its own community. That group is referred to as the Bisexuals. This is because they can “pass” as straight as they can be with either male or female partners. Saying that would mean if a bisexual female was with a man it would be considered a “straight relationship” and many would assume she was straight. Though just because they can pass as straight does not mean they are immune from prejudice from their daily lives.
One reason is that many people including members of the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ community believe that they do not exist even though they are the one largest percentages in the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ community. In fact, Women are 5.5% and men are 2% of the population of the United States based on a study done by the Center for disease control. They are the majority of the minority but yet why do people believe they do not exist? Well, this is because there are many myths about Bisexual out there.
Let us start with the myth that Bisexuals don’t exist. This is not true because as the statistics mentioned previously states Bisexuals Women are 5.5% and men are 2% of the United States population. This is not the only study though, another example can be found in the 2011 study by Gary J. Gates with The Williams Institute where it states “Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay)”. As both these studies show Bisexuals do exists and in are even in the majority but more often enough they are not seen because too many say they are not really bi.
This brings us into the next myth: Bisexuality is just a transitioning phase or an experiment and they will not stay bisexual. This is far from true as a study was done in 2008 by Lisa M. Diamond with the University of Utah shows that” In particular, bisexual and unlabeled women were more likely to switch between bisexual and unlabeled identities than to settle on lesbian or heterosexual labels”.On the note of them not staying bisexual that same studied says, “ 92% identified as either bisexual or unlabeled 10 years later…”(Diamond 2008). While this study only accounts for women, this can also can be said for men as well. Well, now you may be thinking what about the other eight percent? Well, this study also says “only 1 claimed a lesbian label at T5, and 1 claimed a heterosexual label. Of the T1 unlabeled women, 61% identified as bisexual or unlabeled 10 years later; 5 women claimed a lesbian label at T5, and 5 claimed a heterosexual label”(Diamond 2008). While this proves bisexuals exist and that bisexuals are not a phase this is not our last myth.
When we are seen as real we are not seen in a good light. One example is the myth that all bisexuals are promiscuous and that they will leave you for the opposite or same sex(depending on the partner of the bisexual). This false stereotype has lead to lesbians, people of their own community, saying that they would not date them because they are likely to leave them for a man or cheat on them with a man. This myth causes a false narrative that bisexuals to be called cheating sluts. While it is definitely possible that some Bisexuals can be promiscuous it is the same for everyone else. I believe Ms.Joy Morgenstern from Off our backs said it best, ”There are, undoubtedly, bisexual people who will sleep with anyone, just as there are lesbians and gays that will sleep with anyone. But this type of terminal horniness is no more common among bisexuals than in any other group”, (Morgenstern 2004).
These myths are not only damaging to the Bisexuals themselves but also to our image and how we are seen by the world. When Bisexuals are not seen as these stereotypes Bisexuals are also accused of passing or straight privilege. That is to say “Assuming that bisexual people can pass as heterosexual and are therefore privileged or taking the ‘easy option’”Meg Barker et al, The Bisexuality report pg. 20. While yes this does happen, there are just as many Gay and Lesbian people who do as well.
Unfortunately, this is what is called a “catch 22” because if Bisexuals are in a straight relationship they are seen as straight and accused of using “Straight privilege” but if we in a “homosexual relationship” we are seen as gay and that we are really “homosexual”.This changes a little when Bisexuals are in a polyamorous relationship because if Bisexuals have more than one partner they feed in the promiscuous relationship. In other words, we are invisible in either relationship, gay or straight, we seem to blend in. Bisexuals are technically forced backing into hiding because with whoever we choose to be with we are “hiding who we truly are”. Funnily enough, this is hypocritical because if Gays and lesbians do it, it is called “being in the closet but when it happens to us against our will it is called straight privilege.
Many people stay in the closet because it is safer so many assume it is safer for us as well. Unfortunately, this is untrue as bi women because the statistics are unsettling. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey done in 2010 states that “Bisexual women had significantly higher lifetime prevalence of rape and sexual violence other than rape by any perpetrator when compared to both lesbian and heterosexual women.” and “Bisexual women had significantly higher lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner when compared to both lesbian and heterosexual women”. Bisexual women are 46.1% more likely to be rape by any person compared to 13.1% in Lesbians and 17.4% in Straight women. Sexual assault other than rape Bisexual women is 74.9% more likely when compared to 46.4% in Lesbians and 43.3 in Straight women. Bisexual men are 47.4% more likely to be sexually harassed than 40.2% in Gay men and 20.8% in Straight men.
In conclusion, Bisexuals are the invisible majority of the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A+ community despite being 7.5% of the United States population. When they are seen there are many myths used to dismiss them. These myths are just a transitioning phase or an experiment, are promiscuous and that they will leave you for the opposite or same sex(depending on the partner of the bisexual). Or when they are seen, they are seen as passing or using straight privilege. Bisexuals are forced “in the closet “and tormented when they speak out. Unfortunately, until there is more representation and people see us as real we will stay the invisible majority.
- Barker, Meg, et al. The Bisexuality Report: Bisexual Inclusion in LGBT Equality and Diversity, Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance and Faculty of Health and Social Care, bisexualresearch.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/the-bisexualityreport.pdf.
- “Bisexuality Myths – Gender and Sexuality Student Services – UIS.” Travis Bland – Department of Public Administration – University of Illinois Springfield – UIS,
- “Bisexuality: Myths and Realities .” Bisexuality: Myths and Realities, Cleveland State University, www.csuohio.edu/sites/default/files/bisexuality.pdf.
- Copen, Casey E., et al. “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Orientation Among Adults Aged 18–44 in the United States: Data From the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth.” National Health Statistics Reports, Center of Disease, 7 Jan. 2016, 12:01 A.M., i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2016/images/01/06/nhsr88.pdf.
- Gates, Gary J. “How Many People Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender?” How Many People Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender?, The William Institute, Apr. 2011, williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf.
- “LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary | LGBTQIA Resource Center.” Pronouns, lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary.
- Morgenstern, Joy. “Myths of Bisexuality.” Off Our Backs, vol. 34, no. 5/6, May 2004, pp. 46–48. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=fth&AN=13346488&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=col1.
- “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation .” The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Division of Violence Prevention, 2010, www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_SOfindings.pdf.
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