It must be easy for outsiders to look in and mistakenly view the LGBTI community as a loving environment, a place where people who break from "the norm" have joined forces to support each other, fight for rights and generally cheer each other on. Whilst that's true and some remarkable progress has been made by the LGBTI movement, the environment can be less than harmonious for some members. Nothing personifies this point quite like the stigma from within that bisexual people face.
Ask most bi people, and they will tell you that the majority of biphobia they experience is from within the LGBTI community itself. We must consider, what, as bisexual people, have we achieved by being part of the LGBTI?
The LGBTI team mascot— gay men have seen phenomenal changes. Homosexuals have achieved so much. Having sex with their partner is no longer illegal; they can marry their soulmate; and in many places, attacking them for their sexuality is a criminal offense. On the media side, they have magazines, apps, and an ever-increasing presence in television and film.
However, as with all things LGBTI, bisexual folks are still trailing behind with the stabilizers on. Whilst the gays have gone from criminals to heroes in just 49 years in the UK, bi people haven't even really established their existence.
There are no bisexual magazines, dating apps, night clubs, and barley anywhere for us to come together and discuss our issues— let alone solve them. It's a worry. If bi people aren't communicating, what issues are going undiagnosed? And how will we ever understand who bi people are beyond the obvious "someone who likes both".
It is time we address the lack of attention we receive in the LGBTI community and demand some changes.
Discrimination from within
The truth is, the reason the focus is not on us is because many LGBTI organizations are headed by gay or lesbian members who can have a tendency to put their own issues first. I would like more bi people in positions of power in LGBTI organizations because let's face it: if you look at our credentials we are the best people for the job. We can bring the LGBTI movement back to what it should be about— free love and not just same-sex love. We understand what it is like to love both a man and a woman and could equally campaign for both those causes
Bi people are the missing link in LGBTI organizations who can harmoniously bring the cause together.
How do we fix this?
Do what I'm doing! Consider this your call to action!
Start a blog, start a vlog; I can't be the only bisexual person with a big mouth and a general disregard for other people's opinions. Even if you aren't in a big city, go on down to your local LGBTI group and get involved. It's time for bi people to start shaping the change we want to see, in addition to clapping for our colleagues' achievements.
Never forget that when it comes to the LGBTI community, bisexual people greatly outnumber the other subgroups. In 2016, YouGov found that 43% of 18-24-year-olds identified along the bisexual spectrum, whereas only 6% identified as exclusively gay. Put simply, more people are dealing with being bisexual than being gay and we deserve more attention than we get.
Ultimately what we need are more bi people in positions of power in LGBTI organizations. If you are bi and unhappy with the treatment you receive ask yourself, what have I done to change things? If every bi person did their part, we'd have the equality we seek by Christmas.
Changes I would like to see:
Complete acceptance of bisexuality
More research looking exclusively at bisexual people
Magazines and other resources where bi-specific issues are explored
A wider network of clubs, bars, and groups where bi people can interact and form a community.
What do you think bi people deserve?
Tweet me at @lewyoaks