This past week was National Bisexuality Awareness week, an event in which many bisexuals and their allies speak out about visibility and discrimination.
Bisexuality is a common term in modern society, meaning attraction to both sexes. Though this term has gained more awareness over the past few years, those who identify as bisexual face discrimination from both the heterosexual and LGBTQ communitie
For example, in one study from the University of Massachusetts. 745 students identifying as bisexual were surveyed. The results showed that bisexuals face almost as much discrimination from lesbian and gay individuals as they do from heterosexual individuals.
One common myth that contributes to this discrimination is that bisexuality is a phase, or simply a stepping stone to coming out as homosexual.
Despite the popularity of this statement, it could not be farther from the truth. Studies have revealed clear differences between bisexuals and homosexuals. A study on 104 bisexuals used photos of men and women to find out if those studied were actually mainly attracted to one sex. Consequently, the study found that bisexuals spent similar time looking at photos of both sexes, and had a similar amount of attraction to photos of each sex. In comparison, homosexuals spent significantly more time looking at the photos of their sex, and mostly identified attraction to those images.
However, one does not have to be attracted to both sexes equally to be bisexual. Any amount of attraction to either sex is valid, and does not diminish the fact that someone identifies as bisexual. Bisexuality, like any identity, is a diverse label that bends to fit many personal definitions.
It is important to educate people on the legitimacy of bisexuality, and the discrimination that bisexual individuals face.
With current homosexual and transgender rights movements, the LGBTQ community and their allies face many challenges. Unity will be the main factor in any future victories, as it has been in many human rights movements. Although identity is important, no individual is defined solely on the basis of their sexuality, and no label constitutes discrimination, hate, and violence.
The world is so obsessed with defining sexuality for everyone and attaching labels to it. Any time any person openly leaves the sexual norm, their sexuality becomes, more often than not, the absolute defining characteristic of that person. It becomes the first thing people think about, and often the first thing they mention. Every other part of that person all but disappears.
― Dan Pearce from Single Dad Laughing
To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, let me say: You are not alone. Your struggle for the end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle. Today, I stand with you. And I call upon all countries and people to stand with you, too. A historic shift is underway. We must tackle the violence, decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships, and end discrimination. We must educate the public. I call on this council and people of conscience to make this happen. The time has come.
― Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon to the Human Rights Council