"I am tired of hiding," Ellen Page said when she came out as a gay woman last week. Since then, those five words, and the entirety of her speech to THRIVE, have spread like wildfire, captivating both gay and straight people worldwide. Every news site has covered the story. Twitter has basically exploded. Page has become an instant hero -- and with good reason.
But Page's announcement still raises one question for me: Where are all the bisexuals?
Most likely you had no idea that Anna Paquin, Drew Barrymore, Mike White, Megan Fox, Billie Joe Armstrong, and even Snooki all identify as bisexual (though Snooki does admit to preferring male parts). That's probably because they didn't have any epic coming-out speeches.
Even as LGBT rights are at the forefront of the national conversation, bisexuality is still often regarded as the orientation for "easy" people who want to sleep with as many humans as possible, indiscriminately.
Here's what I know: My sexuality has never been a black-and-white matter for me. I cannot remember ever explicitly identifying as straight, gay, or even bisexual when I was growing up. I've always felt that people are people, or rather that souls are souls -- regardless of gender.
I never had that voice in my head saying, "You're a girl, so you should like boys," but I also didn't have one saying, "You are attracted to boys and girls, and you should probably tell people that."
My partners knew; my friends and relatives, for the most part, did not. And I didn't feel bad about it. I didn't feel like it deserved a big speech or a sit-down dinner with my parents. It was just how I felt.
As I've gotten older, I've begun to wonder if this lack of disclosure is dangerous and oppressive.
Just recently, my older brother said something to me about bisexuality. I'm paraphrasing, but the gist was, "I just don't get it. Surely it's just a transitional period for deciding which gender you are attracted to."
Initially I was angry. I thought he was being incredibly ignorant and insensitive. But then I realized that his is the opinion of a lot of people out there. It's very common to attribute bisexuality to fickle minds too dim to know what they want, too horny or desperate to be picky, too fond of experimentation and kinkiness to know any better, or all of the above. Is that ignorant? Obviously. But there is also precedent for that stigma.
Terms like "bisexual erasure" and "bisexual invisibility" exist for a reason. Though public figures like Frida Kahlo and Marlon Brando were more or less recognized as bisexual, they never exactly became spokespeople for bisexuality.
Then, in the 1970s, David Bowie became an icon for bisexuals worldwide. His celebrity status and the fact that he embraced his orientation so completely resonated with men and women alike. But when the '80s rolled around, Bowie told Rolling Stone that he was a "closet heterosexual" -- a product of experimental times and an experimental mindset.
Of course, Bowie wasn't the only one experimenting. How often do teenage girls make out with each other because they think it'll make them look sexy to the boys? Bisexuality, more than any other sexual orientation, seems to leave a lot of room for people who are in fact looking to experiment.
But the way we tend to disregard all bisexuality as mere experimentation simply wouldn't fly for any other orientation (anymore). Overlooking it as "illegitimate" because of the people who do use it as a "transitional period" would be no different from turning around and disregarding being gay because, let's say, Lance Bass used to date Danielle Fishel.
Perhaps the reason bi celebrities may be reluctant to come out is that they fear it would hurt their careers in a way that being gay no longer does. Perhaps they fear their fans will wonder whether they are confused, promiscuous, or indecisive. That's what people wonder about non-celebrities, after all.
But bisexuals will never be accepted if we don't see more of them, and that's why we need bi celebrities to step up. Actress and musician Maria Bello's New York Times essay "Coming Out as a Modern Family" was a shining moment in which she details the process of telling her son that she is romantically involved with a woman. When Olympic diver and television personality Tom Daley told us in his December YouTube video that he is "happier than ever" dating a guy, all our hearts were throbbing.
But neither Bello nor Daley actually identified as bisexual. And while I understand why Evan Rachel Wood and Allan Cumming might not want to give speeches addressing their bisexuality, I'd certainly tune in if they did. We need more widely visible, openly bi people out there to show the world that bisexuality is a legitimate orientation, that it isn't wrong, and that it certainty doesn't mean you're an indecisive mess of a human.
We need our Ellen Page moment too.
This post originally appeared on Bustle.
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