I believe it's every bisexual person's birthright to feel comfortable with their sexuality and to express it as they wish. We deserve to thrive and realize our potential as unique individuals, free from low self-esteem or lack of confidence relating to our sexual orientation.
Sadly, bisexual people face multiple barriers to living happy lives.
In such an unwelcoming cultural climate, it's not surprising that bisexual people are much less likely to come out than gay men or lesbians. Many bisexuals decide to identify as straight or gay, in order to fit in and avoid discrimination.
Studies consistently show that bisexual people have significantly poorer health outcomes than gay and straight people, as well as higher rates of poverty and unemployment.
So, if you're bisexual and struggling, remember this: it's not your fault -- there are a range of factors beyond our control that make life very hard for us.
Despite these difficulties, I know from personal experience that it's possible to be happy as a bisexual person, and that anyone can actively learn to feel good about being bisexual.
I believe there are three broad ways in which we can cultivate positive change in ourselves:
1) Change Your Understanding of Bisexuality
Society feeds us so many negative messages about bisexuality that bisexual people inevitably develop some degree of internalised biphobia, which can undermine our self-esteem and confidence. To counter this, we need to develop our own more accurate and positive understanding of what it means to be bisexual.
We can boost our confidence by educating ourselves about bisexuality, clarifying what it is and why the stereotypes are wrong. Knowing the facts will strengthen your ability to challenge the myths and feel confident in your own sexuality.
Learn about the problems we face as a community. Learn about the different ways in which people define and understand bisexuality. This will help you understand and accept yourself.
2) Engage with the Experience of Other Bisexual People
Most bisexual people rarely meet other openly bisexual people in the course of their everyday lives, either in the workplace or through friendship networks. This can lead to a sense of isolation, and a feeling that you are the only bisexual person around.
To really understand that we aren't alone as bisexuals, we need to explore and engage with the experience of other bisexual people.
Read bisexual bloggers, watch bisexual vloggers, and explore and contribute to bisexual forums. Learn about the full range of bisexual experience. You'll find that many people have had experiences you can relate to.
Meet other bisexual people in person at a bi social group. By connecting with others online or in person you can build supportive relationships and a sense of community.
3) Learn Practical Skills to Help You Feel Good About Being Bisexual
We grow up as bisexual people without any guidance on how to come to terms with our bisexuality. We're forced to improvise and often end up unhappy and unsure of ourselves. Fortunately, we can learn a range of skills to help us overcome this.
We can learn how to come out, for example. Coming out can be a hugely positive process for bisexual people, but it's often especially difficult to tell someone you're bisexual, when you know they probably don't understand bisexuality or even believe it exists.
By learning techniques to confidently come out to a range of people, we can make the process as smooth and successful as possible. Being out, especially to the important people in your life, is a major confidence booster.
Being bisexual in an unfriendly society also presents psychological challenges.
Many bisexual people try to suppress unwanted sexual desire (usually same-sex desire) and this can cause a range of sexual and emotional problems.
In addition, many bisexuals get caught up in negative thinking about whether they really are bisexual, influenced by the common misconceptions that bisexuality doesn't exist or that you must have equal levels of desire for men and women to be a 'true' bisexual.
These psychological problems can be overcome by learning new ways of thinking and behaving.
When you overcome mental distress about your bisexuality, a wonderful sense of freedom and confidence emerges. Every bisexual person deserves to experience that.
Neil Endicott is author of the book 'How to be a Happy Bisexual: A Guide to Self-Acceptance and Wellbeing'. He is also a bisexuality coach helping individuals build confidence and wellbeing. He blogs at happybisexual.com