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March 18, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Bent

On Wednesday night I sat in Parliament to watch the Second Reading of Louisa Wall’s Marriage Equality Bill. A friend had posted on Facebook earlier that day the rules to a drinking game:

“Who wants to play a responsible drinking game for the Marriage Equality reading tonight? Drink every time someone says ‘bisexual’. I guarantee you’ll still be fairly sober at the end.”

I counted.

The grand total was three.

Many MPs who spoke talked about the gay and lesbian people who would be affected by the bill. A couple of them spoke about the straight people who would (somehow) be affected by the bill: a couple talked about how trans* people would be affected. Almost none talked about bisexual people (Jan Logie gets bonus points, though, for being the only MP to talk about queerdom in an inclusive sense – her speech was my favourite).

This is indicative of the problem of biphobia and bisexual invisibility. Another friend, who identifies as bisexual, recently left a relationship with an opposite-gender partner. She said she was now considering getting more involved in some queer things because she wouldn’t feel weird about being in a queer space while in a relationship with a man. People would assume she was straight, and she felt like she was less welcome in the space. It’s not her job to just ‘be more comfortable’. It’s our job to make her feel more welcome.

Biphobia exists both outside and within the queer community. Hurtful, harmful accusations like bisexual people are “just being greedy”, or “unable to commit”, or “they’re actually gay and just pretending”, “it’s just a phase”, or “they’re just confused” are commonplace and believed by many. None of
them are universally true. All of them are harmful.

How do we fix this? Language would be a good place to start. When you’re talking about issues that affect people who are attracted to more than one gender, use descriptors like queer, or non-heterosexual, or LGBT to be properly inclusive and not further marginalise a group that is already a minority.

Don’t treat bisexuality like a dirty thing, but recognise it for the genuine identity that it is. If someone mentions a previous partner of the same gender, don’t immediately assume they identify as gay or lesbian. If someone who has previously only had heterosexual relationships enters into a same-sex one,
don’t assume they’re gay or lesbian! You’re probably wrong! Sexuality is fluid without being a choice (this is my mantra).

I’m really attracted to bisexual dudes. Let’s not maintain an environment that makes it harder to come out as bisexual! Let’s put in the tiny amount of effort it takes to remember that bisexuality exists. It’ll be much appreciated.

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  1. Dylan says:

    Nice column, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen bi-phobia in action on more than one occasion. It’s always equal part perplexing and disheartening to witness intolerance within the queer community.

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