The stigmatization of bisexuality
Written by Cami
For this article, I have decided to interview five EUC bisexual people in order to gain as much insight as possible on the stigmatization of bisexuality.
While interviewing my peers on bisexual invalidation, second-year Jeanne epitomized the sentiments of most of the interviewees by saying “bisexuality is still viewed as a very middle ground sexuality between heterosexuality and homosexuality”. People who identify as bisexual often feel they are excluded from both straight and queer communities, and experience their sexuality being invalidated a lot of the time.
Ranging from small comments to direct exclusion, bisexual invalidation comes in many forms. While it is mainly unintentional, it is of crucial importance for the bi-community to open up about their experiences so we can confront stigma surrounding bisexuality, both inside and outside of the queer community. Many attitudes about bisexuality make us feel as though our sexuality is not legitimate, which has a direct impact on our self-esteem.
Bisexual invalidation can be approached from a few key points: not being taken seriously, assuming our sexuality because of who we date, and the male-gaze.
Firstly, it is common that we don’t feel taken seriously because others say we tell them we’re bi because it’s a trend and because “we want to be cool”, or because this is just a comfortable step on the way to say we’re gay.
Additionally, assumptions about our sexuality are made because of who we date. We often get invalidated when we say we’re bi and we’re dating someone from the opposite gender. A common misconception about bi-people is that we’re 50% straight and 50% gay. This is wrong and makes us feel like we are in between two sexualities, when in reality, bi-people don’t consciously have a ratio for their sexual preference.
All of the women interviewed mentioned the male-gaze. The male-gaze is very hard to deconstruct, but it is essentially the idea that women’s behaviour always caters towards men’s desires. For instance, women in homosexual relationships may feel as if their relationship is an extension of the male-gaze, and their sexuality is limited to idealizations or fantasies projected onto them by men. This makes women feel sexualized whenever we date someone from the same gender. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that bisexual men are often perceived as gay and bisexual women as straight because of assumptions about the preferred attraction always being towards men.
Surprisingly, many of the interviewees feel more excluded by the queer community than by straight people. A shared concern is not presenting “gay enough”. They also feel that they are underrepresented relative to other groups in conversations and media concerning the queer community.
I asked the interviewees what changes others could make to combat this exclusion and invalidation and their answers were all very similar. They wish that others wouldn’t make assumptions on their sexuality based on how they present or who they date. This would make it more comfortable for bisexual people to express and be confident in their sexuality, as they would not feel like they are in between two sexualities.