Bi the Bi: Two Bi Writers on Big Bi Issues
This blog post is part of an ongoing conversation between two bisexual activists. A.J. Walkley and Sarah Smith* are both monogamous, bisexual, cisgender females who are in long-term relationships. A.J. is in a relationship with a cisgender male, and Sarah is in a relationship with a cisgender female. Both A.J. and Sarah are committed to remaining visible as bisexuals in spite of society's tendency to want to label A.J. as heterosexual and Sarah as a lesbian. Together they came up with the idea for "Bi the Bi: Two Bi Writers on Big Bi Issues" as a way to help eliminate stereotypes and bias against people in the bisexual community.
Question: "Why would someone want to identify as bisexual?"
Sarah: Why would a person who has the capacity to be attracted to more than one gender choose to identify as bisexual? Why would someone bravely come out as bisexual in the face of ubiquitous biphobia? Our last post was focused on all the reasons that someone wouldn't want to identify as bisexual. However, there are just as many reasons why someone would want to proudly claim their identity.
I do it because I'm strongly motivated by a desire to decrease the bisexual invisibility that allows biphobia to persist in our culture. I (and many other bisexuals) must be willing to be visible and educate people about bisexuality if we are to help the broader culture move from phobia to understanding.
I'm also more empowered than I would be otherwise, because by being out, I'm confronting the biphobia I experience in a constructive way. Gratitude is another driving factor. I embrace the identity label "bisexual" because I feel that by doing so, I'm honoring the bisexual activists who came before me. To stay strong as a movement, we must learn from and respect the history of our movement.
A.J.: You are right on the mark regarding the history of the bisexual movement, Sarah. I have heard on countless occasions from individuals who have forsaken the "bisexual" label, believing that the term itself is not inclusive and should be changed. But the fact is that the bisexual community has been fighting a battle to be seen and recognized for decades now, a battle that I, for one, am extremely proud to be a part of, and forsaking the term for any reason would be erasing everything we have fought for and already achieved. We have celebrities in the public eye ready and willing to come out as bisexual; we have proud bisexuals in politics; we have bi pride celebrations and conferences; we have movies, television shows and books featuring bisexual characters; and we certainly have many more conversations happening on every media platform today than ever before. It's a very exciting time to be bisexual.
Personally, I also want to emphasize just how incredible it is to have the capacity to love multiple genders, gender expressions and sexes. Don't get me wrong, all sexualities are to be celebrated, but this is a post about identifying as bisexual, and I want to applaud it. I have been able to pick myself out of some dark places while coming to terms with my bisexuality by recognizing and reveling in the beauty of being able to experience love with a variety of people over the course of my lifetime.
Sarah: I agree, A.J. All sexual orientations are equally beautiful in their own unique way. For me, much of the beauty I experience in being an out bisexual is in the community I'm a part of. Embracing my bisexual identity connects me with a larger movement of bisexual activists who are working for equality. There's a vibrant international community, but even just focusing on resources based in the United States, there's a lot to mention. Robyn Ochs is a personal hero of mine, for example. I'm grateful to her and all the other hardworking people at the Bisexual Resource Center. I also appreciate the work of everyone at Bi Net USA. The American Institute of Bisexuality performs invaluable research that expands understanding of bisexuality. Sarah Beach from the Bisexual Organizing Project is an amazing leader. I've been learning from her in a weekly phone meeting since I began blogging about bisexual issues. She's active in organizing the annual BECAUSE Conference (our national conference on bisexuality) for this June.
I'm also immensely proud to be a part of the community of bisexual bloggers on The Huffington Post. Our bisexual blogger teammates here include such luminaries as Amy Andre, Patrick RichardsFink, Maria Burnham, Faith Cheltenham and Ron Suresha. I'm grateful that The Huffington Post is being so inclusive of bi voices.
How can you beat all of that? Visibility decreases biphobia. There are emotional benefits to being out of the closet. Embracing the term "bisexual" shows respect and appreciation for past and current activists. Most importantly, by being active in the bisexual community, I get the joy of having community and inspiring friends like you, A.J.!
A.J.: I couldn't agree more. If you want to get involved, the community aspect of being an out bisexual can be such a strengthening part of the bisexual experience. Once I left college and the support from the LGBTQ Alliance on my campus, it took several years before I found the bisexual community's presence online, especially via social media. Now I cannot imagine my life without it and without the people I have had the honor to connect with and befriend, including all the activists you just named, Sarah, as well as you. Simply speaking to other bisexuals about common experiences that we share in terms of our sexuality, biphobia and the like can be so heartening and motivating. The more out and proud I am, the more bisexuals I end up encountering and connecting with; by being visible, we encourage the visibility of others.
It's your turn, dear reader. Why would someone want to identify as bisexual? If you are bisexual and identify that way, why do you embrace your identity? What are your favorite parts about being active in the bisexual community and working for bisexual equality? Will you be attending the BECAUSE Conference this June?
If you have any questions that you'd like us to discuss as part of this series, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit our website at twobiwriters.com, and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/TwoBiWriters .