The first person I confessed my bisexuality to was my first boyfriend. We were lying down on his bed watching television and I felt a sudden and inexplicable urge to tell him something I had only recently realised myself, find and that was that I was attracted to both men and women. Seven long years have passed since then, doctor and during that time I have faced internal battles where I found myself identifying as a lesbian, demisexual and even heterosexual with a slight attraction to women – anything but what I actually am, which is a bisexual woman. Recently I was talking to a girlfriend of mine about a television show the two of us were watching called This Is Us and one of the characters had been revealed to be bisexual, and it was at this point my friend noted that in her twenty three years of existence this was the first time she could recall seeing a bisexual man on television and it begs the question – where are all the bisexual boys?
Reports have shown that bisexual men and women face disproportionate levels of discrimination in comparison to their lesbian and gay peers and bisexual men in particular are very rarely culturally acknowledged. In GLAAD’s most recent media report, they found out of the 897 regular characters on primetime scripted television, only four were identified to be bisexual men. And whilst representation for the LGBT+ community is steadily on the rise, narratives surrounding queer characters are mostly reserved for white, gay and affluent men. And it is not only in media or in the cishet dominated world we are living in, even in LGBT+ safe spaces bisexuals are met with scepticism and disdain to the point where you would think the B in LGBT+ stands for bionic. Time and time again bisexuals often have their bisexuality denied and met with cynicism by the very community that is meant to uplift them. Bisexuality is very openly expressed (and wrongly deemed) to be a ploy to ‘get attention’; seem more ‘interesting’; a period of ‘confusion’; or to be halfway on their way to coming out as homosexual. So, how are bisexuals expected to navigate a world where they are often depicted as evil, attention seeking, confused or not at all?
And whilst biphobia can often be attributed to media misrepresentation, it can also be situated next to wider perceptions of bisexuality. If two men are seen together they are both assumed to be gay and if a man and a woman are seen together, they are assumed to be heterosexual – unless specified you wouldn’t know if their sexuality happened to be fluid. And it’s easier to think in binary oppositions – homosexual or heterosexual – because it is what we’ve been taught. Despite how pressing the matter is, topics such as the erasure of bisexual men in media are often disregarded or excluded entirely from feminist discussions due to the common misconception that issues regarding men aren’t feminist issues at all. And in this time of challenging white dominated narratives, it is important to challenge biphobia ones too.
Written by Cleo Findley
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