Welcome to Say No to Biphobia

Hello everyone!

This blog is dedicated to investigating biphobia in all of its insidious forms. I will be interviewing young bisexuals aged 20-24 who live in Sydney on their coming out experiences, their relationships with other people, and how the media plays a role in their lives.

After the interviews there will be a follow up post that will further analyse the importance of some of the comments to a wider audience. Some stereotypes or anxieties about bisexuality go way further back than the bisexuals might even realise. This is because of the monosexist society that we live in, where being straight is ideal, being gay is slowly more acceptable, but being bisexual defies all these boundaries.

I welcome and encourage all comments and contributions to this page and aim to make it as inclusive and supportive as possible.

Please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages for more content on these issues!

Thanks guys,

SW

 

The B Word: Natalie

1. Can you tell me about a time when you started to come to terms with your sexuality being something other than heterosexual?

I think I knew subconsciously before I was okay with it myself, like I would tell my friends that I was bi when I was drunk and then deny it in the morning. One moment that stands out for me was this time I had like two drinks and I was like okay I’m coming out and I ran around and told all my friends and they were like yeah I know you’ve told me at least three other times. The next morning I was sober enough to be like oh it’s actually a thing now laughs.

2. Do you think your sexual orientation has affected your relationships with other people? If so, how?

Most of my relationships have been affected by it, it’s a huge thing. My longest relationship was four years and with a guy and he never saw it as valid. When we together I got into the headspace of wanting everyone to know about it and wanting it to become a part of my identity. And he couldn’t understand why and was scared that people would judge him. Also, I am generally more hesitant to be friends with people that I find a bit more homophobic. Even literally two days ago this girl I work with was really casually chatting about homophobic stuff and it made me so uncomfortable, and we have a totally different relationship now. I feel like because I have talked about dating guys in front of her, she assumed I was straight and felt safe to say homophobic things, which is a bisexual specific experience I would think.

 

3. Do you think there are any other factors that contribute to how you understand your own sexuality? Race, gender, family, culture, etc.

Everyone lives in their own culture, so of course. The fact that I went to university and like, first semester I did gender studies. That made me begin to accept that I was bisexual and that it was important to recognise why I had felt bad about it before. If I hadn’t had that very liberal and inclusive environment it would have been a different experience.

5. How do you feel the stereotypes surrounding bisexuals have affected your life? E.g. bisexual men are gay, bisexual girls are straight, bisexuals are greedy, bisexuals can’t choose, bisexuals have straight privilege, bisexuality isn’t ‘real.’

It made it harder to come out because I felt a bit detached from the gay community and I was tempted to try and hide in straightness which isn’t fun. Now being with gay women I feel a little scared to tell them that I am bisexual, like it’s easier to hide in gayness with them.

6. Do you think these stereotypes have originated from poor media and pop culture representation? Can you be specific?

Yeah, but also the media represents what our culture is actually like. The media likes things to be simple, where you have gay people or you have straight people. Because it’s easier to explain rather than the whole spectrum of sexualities that exist in actuality.

7. Can you comment on how the media and pop culture have defined bisexuality compared to how you might define it yourself?

The media hasn’t really talked about it; the only representation is very Katy Perry ‘I Kissed a Girl’ vibe. I get the impression that being attracted to women is less valid than being attracted to men when you are bisexual, so like being in a relationship with a man and kissing a girl isn’t ‘cheating.’ Small media like Tumblr communities are great though. For me bisexuality is the attraction to your own gender and other genders, not like a binary gender thing.

8. What do you want to do about biphobia or what do you want to say to people who are biphobic?

I would say people are highly complex, and it shouldn’t have to be an easy answer about how someone feels in order for you to feel okay. Also one bisexual person is completely different to another bisexual person. Lastly, I would say fluidity in sexuality doesn’t remove validity, like you can have a bisexual phase and then change later but that doesn’t remove the validity of your identity during that time.

-SW

Follow Up on Nate

Hey guys!

Welcome back, sorry for the delay in posting this has been a CRAZY week for me personally. Get excited for a lot of content coming up next couple days.

There are a lot of things that are interesting about Nate’s interview. He mentions that he doesn’t tell all his straight male friends about his sexuality as he fears it will change the dynamic of their friendship. I found this incredibly sad to listen to as opening up and sharing parts of your identity is a great way to forge long-lasting friendships. It does seem like Nate has come to terms with this in his own way, and it is great to hear he has begun to tell his new friends about his sexuality fairly early on.

It was great to hear about how his Thai background affected his perceptions of his sexuality as well. For me, coming from a very White and western upbringing, it was a reminder that all cultures have their own perceptions of LGBT and that it is important to recognise that. Effeminate men in Thai communities and cities are a lot more common compared to Western cities, which has affected how acceptable homosexuality is. This is an interesting example of how toxic masculinity affects bisexual and gay men coming out and being accepted for their sexuality.

Until next time!

-SW

 

The B Word: Nate

  1. Can you tell me about a time when you started to come to terms with your sexuality being something other than heterosexual?

    Well, probably started when I saw hot people on TV and realised that when they took their shirts off I was attracted to both men and women *laughs*, and then I was like  knew I was bisexual I didn’t come out until first year of university and only to my close friends.

  2. Do you think your sexual orientation has affected your relationships with other people? If so, how?

    So I have close friends that are straight guys and I don’t tell them because I feel like with guys it’s harder. Like when we go out we go out to drink or party or play games but we would never talk about our relationships. I have a close guy friend that I’ve been friends with since year 7 but I haven’t told him. But then I have friends who are openly supportive of gay rights and issues and I tell them. I tell the people I think are safe to tell. If I have to put on a façade then I will so that my sexuality doesn’t affect my day-to-day life. It’s sad because I’m not as close with my friends who don’t know anymore because I have other friends who are more supportive.

  3. Do you think the media and pop culture has affected how you view bisexuality? Can you elaborate in relation to yourself?

    It hasn’t been represented at all, I feel there are only gay guys who are represented. I have never seen a bisexual guy on TV. The lack of representation is the worst part.

  4. Do you think there are any other factors that contribute to how you understand your own sexuality? Race, gender, family, culture, etc.

    I come from Thailand, where it is more acceptable to be gay. Like my mum’s best friends are not only gay but flamboyantly gay. So, it is something that is accepted but it is not something you would ever want for your child. This makes it really hard to come out to your parents, even though my mum has told me that it’s fine if I’m gay. I will tell my mum I’m bisexual if I end up dating a guy, which I haven’t so far, just because I don’t want to cause any drama. If I don’t end up with a guy, they never need to know. I think it would be way easier if I was a girl, like I feel like girls are way more accepting than guys. All my girl friends know I am bisexual, but not all of my male friends know I am bisexual.

  5. How do you feel the stereotypes surrounding bisexuals have affected your life? E.g. bisexual men are gay, bisexual girls are straight, bisexuals are greedy, bisexuals can’t choose, bisexuals have straight privilege, bisexuality isn’t ‘real.’

    I don’t think I have straight privilege because I think I’m quite feminine so I don’t think I come across straight anyway. With the other stereotypes, it affects my life because I second guess myself a lot when I am attracted to someone, like I start to question whether I have a preference for a gender and if I can still label myself bisexual. But no straight privilege here, I would love that *laughs*.

  6. Do you feel more excluded from LGBT community or straight community?

    Well I have straight friends and gay friends and I feel like I can only talk to my gay friends about my sexuality so probably the straight community. I’ve never been interested in any Pride events or anything, I am not very active in the LGBT community so that doesn’t really affect me.

  7. What do you want to do about biphobia or what do you want to say to people who are biphobic?

    Just why? I’m a normal guy and I’ve had relationships and if you look at me and my history then you know I’m like anyone else, I just like girls and guys.

    -SW

Follow up on Jen

Hi everyone!

Hope you have all had a chance to read through Jen’s interview, I know I had a great time interviewing her. She was so smart and articulate in the way she spoke and described her experiences.

When you compare Jen and Annaliese, you can see that they both describe hyper-sexualisation of female/female relationships being a massive issue for them when considering their sexuality. This is something that is relatable for lesbian women and bisexual women alike, but the added stereotype that bisexuals are promiscuous compounds this stigma into something quite damaging.

Another interesting point Jen discusses is how her rural background affected her coming out. She explained that she still isn’t ‘out’ when she visits home. Morandini et al. (2015, p. 260) outlined that when people live in rural areas, there is more concern for potential consequences after disclosing your sexuality as something other than heterosexual, as well as increased internalised homophobia and fewer friendships between LGB people compared to people living in metropolitan areas. This means that there is a lack of community that helps support people in rural communities, which leads to further bi-invisibility and biphobia.

Lastly, feeling unwelcome in the LGBT community and excluded from Pride events is unfortunately very common among bisexual people. This is particularly relevant to bisexual people in different sex relationships and are assumed to be heterosexual. It’s important to remember that the relationship you are in does not define your sexual orientation.

Until next time!

-SW

 

Morandini, J,  Blaszczynski, A, Dar-Nimrod, I & Ross, M 2015, ‘Minority stress and community connectedness among gay, lesbian and bisexual Australians: a comparison of rural and metropolitan localities,’ Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, vol. 39 no. 3, pp. 260-266.

The B Word: Jen

  1. Can you tell me about a time when you started to come to terms with your sexuality being something other than heterosexual?

14-15 months ago I started to realise I liked a friend of mine more than a friend and from that I realised looking back on my life that there were moments where I was interested in women as well, but I needed that first kiss with a woman for all of it to fall together. I didn’t realise that the way I thought about women was different to the way everyone thought about women, I just thought it was just ‘normal.’

  1. Do you think your sexual orientation has affected your relationships with other people? If so, how?

 

First of all, my partner is a lesbian and in the beginning of our relationship it was a bit tense where she was scared I would miss men, but it’s not like that now. With my parents, my relationship changed a bit, especially with my mum where she was kind of like ‘well if you’re bisexual, why can’t you just date a guy because it’s the easier path’ which made it harder to come out as bisexual then it would have been to come out lesbian. I have a great group of queer friends that supported me though.

  1. Do you think the media and pop culture has affected how you view bisexuality? Can you elaborate in relation to yourself?

I think I always knew that bisexuality existed from an early age but I can’t name any characters in media who were bisexual. There is the classic two girls making out in front of a heterosexual man trope, but the whole way bisexuality is presented is very stereotyped and cliché.

  1. Do you think there are any other factors that contribute to how you understand your own sexuality? Race, gender, family, culture, etc.

I grew up in a small country town and there were barely any people who came out as gay in my high school, and none in my year group. I then moved to Sydney where I met a lot more queer people, but I’m not ‘out’ to a lot of people at home and I only have a couple friends who know and it’s not something we talk about. This has affected the way I talk about it as well, like if someone asks me if I’m seeing anyone I say no even though that hasn’t been true for the last year and a bit.

  1. How do you feel the stereotypes surrounding bisexuals have affected your life? E.g. bisexual men are gay, bisexual girls are straight, bisexuals are greedy, bisexuals can’t choose, bisexuals have straight privilege, bisexuality isn’t ‘real.’

The stereotypes are something you can laugh at because they are so ridiculous but they also can be really damaging which is hard for people who aren’t comfortable with their sexuality or in unhealthy relationships. Like at festivals me and my girlfriend will constantly be propositioned for threesomes, or sometimes people will ask me to prove that this is my girlfriend or to prove that I’m bisexual through how many girls vs boys I’ve slept with, which is ridiculous and totally invading my privacy. I also only feel accepted in the queer community because I’m dating a woman who is very out and proud with her homosexuality, I would feel like an ally and not apart of it without her.

  1. Do you think these stereotypes have originated from poor media and pop culture representation? Can you be specific?

Pop culture and media hasn’t helped, but I think the stereotypes come from other sources as well. There needs to be more representation, especially for men. When I first started to acknowledge my sexuality the media influenced me to think that this was just a phase in my life, like it was just me moving to a big city and being influenced by liberal friends, but it obviously is not.

  1. Can you comment on how the media and pop culture have defined bisexuality compared to how you might define it yourself?

For me, it just means that I am interested in men and women both sexually and romantically, whereas the media portrays it as more of attention-seeking, or wanting to have sex with everyone, or having a specific ratio to follow which I have never considered.

  1. What do you want to do about biphobia or what do you want to say to people who are biphobic?

Bisexuality is just as valid as lesbian or gay, it doesn’t get enough attention as other sexualities, the stereotypes are harmful things that both the straight community and queer community can do better, and biphobia is just dumb.

 

-SW

The B Word: Annaliese

  1. Can you tell me about a time when you started to come to terms with your sexuality being something other than heterosexual?

Maybe in the early years of high school during PE I remember just being very curious of everyone’s bodies and then I would just uncomfortably avert my eyes and shuffle off to the other corner of the room to change. But that was also mingled with curiosity of other women’s bodies, not sexually, but comparing them to my own. It was ambiguous to what that curiosity meant.

  1. Do you think your sexual orientation has affected your relationships with other people? If so, how?

I found it hard to come out as queer or bisexual initially because not being straight or gay has a bit of confusion, like am I really this sexuality or is this just brief and passing. It was a fear that if I told someone I would then change my mind and have to go back on what I had said. I remember one of the first people I told I was bisexual asked me if I meant I was ‘actually’ bisexual or just ‘fashionably’ bisexual which made me feel really stupid with even coming out in the first place. I still haven’t told both my parents. There is a sense of trust you need to have to come out as well as a sense of necessity, like is it worthwhile to just anyone?

  1. Do you think the media and pop culture has affected how you view bisexuality? Can you elaborate in relation to yourself?

Hyper sexualisation of queer women in the media made me feel uncomfortable because the idea of being sexualised for something not explicitly sexual and can just be romantic kind of reduces your self-worth. You don’t want your love to be sexually objectified in the context of the male gaze.

  1. How do you feel the stereotypes surrounding bisexuals have affected your life? E.g. bisexual men are gay, bisexual girls are straight, bisexuals are greedy, bisexuals can’t choose, bisexuals have straight privilege, bisexuality isn’t ‘real.’

Assuming bisexual women are straight bothers me because I hear a lot of gay women wont date bisexual women because they are scared they will just go back to dating men, but I’ve been on the other end where I’ve slept with a woman and I find out it was just an experimental thing and that has really hurt. So I kind of get why gay women would avoid that. Also, the stereotype where all bisexuals cheat, because I have cheated and I started to question whether that was because of my sexuality.

  1. Can you comment on how the media and pop culture have defined bisexuality compared to how you might define it yourself?

Media portrays bisexuality as a youthful and passing phase or like a time period of experimentation.  I swing between two positions like wanting to be gay or straight so it’s less confusing but also feeling so grateful to be able to love someone from any gender. I wouldn’t change it though, at my core I see my bisexuality as positive but I have instances of negativity.

  1. What do you want to do about biphobia or what do you want to say to people who are biphobic?

I would prevent biphobia by encouraging less focus on labels and accepting sexuality as fluid because people are capable of loving people, not genders or sexes or whatever. It would be nice to know that if I came out as bisexual that people wouldn’t think that I was confused or that I want to sleep with everyone.

-SW