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Are bisexuals real? The answer may surprise you*

Updated: May 13

As one of The Unmistakable’s resident bisexuals (I prefer the term queer personally, but I’ll roll with it), I was intrigued by the notion of a ‘Bisexual Health Awareness month,’ apparently happening right now. I’ve heard of Bi Awareness week, but a whole month dedicated to our health? Sounds pretty queer to me. So I did a little investigating to find out more.

This year, the theme is The Power of Bi+ community. I’ve learned something new already - Bisexual+ is another term for those who are attracted to more than one gender: think bi, pansexual, fluid, queer, etc. 

According to the founders of the month, the Bisexual Resource Centre, ‘This theme highlights the important role of bi+ community in our health — from the mental health benefits of interpersonal connection and caring for one another, to the ability to educate and advocate for healthy changes in our society.’

Speaking to the other Bi+ folks at The Unmistakables and beyond, we quickly connected over El Dorado memes, navigating both straight and gay spaces (also known as monosexual, the fancy term for ‘attracted to one gender’ spaces), body image struggles, being invisibilized, and so on. 

There’s a lot to navigate when you’re breaking the binary and deciding that actually, more than ‘both’ is just good (because there are more than two genders, and if you’re Bi+, you might be attracted to any one of those genders). 

For one, there’s sexual health to consider. One colleague noted how difficult it was for their friend, a bisexual woman, to access PrEP. That’s a drug used to reduce the risk of getting HIV. While PrEP can be used by anyone from a community or group that is most at risk of HIV, or people who have sex with people from those networks, anecdotally it’s often gay and bi men who get access to it. But according to the Terence Higgins Trust, ‘Around a third of people living with HIV in the UK are women and a quarter of all new HIV diagnoses are in women. Yet women living with and affected by HIV have been mainly invisible in the narrative and response to HIV in the UK.’

Then there’s the invisibilisation of bi men. According to GLAAD’s ‘Where We are On TV’ report for 2022, 25% of the characters on both primetime scripted cable and streaming services are bisexual+...and only a quarter of those characters were bi+ men. Vaneet Meta outlines the particular experiences that bi+ men face in his book Bisexual Men Exist, covering everything from coming out to dating, relationships, and health.

If you’re a Bi+ woman or femme, you’ve probably ticked off a few ‘fun’ experiences on your bingo card. Special mentions go to the requests for threesomes on dating apps and from the couple across the bar who ‘really liked your vibe’; the cis men you date who think that you being bi is ‘really hot’; the lesbians who query whether you probably actually just like women but are pandering to the patriarchy by dating men; and the people who think you could simply choose to just date a man if you wanted to. 

Regardless of gender, the biggest tropes that follow Bi+ people of all genders is that we’re greedy, hypersexual, more likely to cheat, generally untrustworthy, and should just pick a side. Depending on how they present and who they date, sometimes Bi+ folks might not feel ‘queer enough’ in any kind of monosexual setting. And occupying the fringe at all times is exhausting. 

But there is also a lot of beauty in being Bi+. There’s the joy you get from the sheer range of sexual and dating experiences you may have, and the breadth of people you might meet and fall in love with. And the freedom and satisfaction of just generally exploding the binary. And the perspective you gain when you’re able to look past gender as a defining factor and hone in on other elements of people. And the memes your Bi+ colleagues immediately send you in response to you asking them about what it’s like to be Bi+.

If you’re in a business wondering what your role might be in shifting the narratives that surround Bi+ folks, there’s a couple of things you can do:

  • Sense check your LGBTQIA+ offerings, particularly around Pride. How is your organisation, and your LGBTQIA+ ERG if you have one, considering Bi+ people?

  • If a colleague comes out as Bi+ at work, affirm them. You don’t need to ask invasive questions about whether they ‘lean more toward’ any particular gender. 

  • Raise awareness of bisexuality through staff newsletters and intranet articles

  • Ensure your policies are non-gendered - especially your parental leave policies

If you’re personally interested in learning more about Bi+ people, biphobia, celebrating your Bi-ness, and things that you can do to support the Bi+ people in your life, The Trevor Project released this guide on How to Support Bisexual Youth, which contains useful information for people of any age.

(*the answer is yes.)


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