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Study suggests bisexuals get ‘bad deal’ in local government equality policies

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  1. As a young gay with very little knowledge of bisexual issues, it’d be cool if pink news or its readers could direct me to resources on said issues.

  2. Jessica Burton 7 Oct 2010, 4:27pm

    Can we have a link to the actual study please?

    I second the comment by Matt!

    Matt to start you off I recommend http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/

  3. We really surprised? Online resources like Pink News, AfterEllen and AfterElton routinely attract comments by gay men and lesbians saying that bi people are confused, closeted, sexual predators, just oversexed, and that we don’t really exist.

    There’s growing acceptance within gay and lesbian groups, for which I’m very grateful, and yet hostility persists. Bi men seem to get it in the neck even more than bi women, as far as I can tell. How do we expect people outside the alphabet soup to understand the issues when even some of the major LGB(and sometimes T) organisations *cough*stonewall*cough* don’t make the effort?

    Things are shifting, I hope. I’m an optimist.

  4. I liked this little bit on Bisexuality: http://www.afterelton.com/pigeonguts/09-30-10

    It is quite depressing that a lot of Biphobia comes from the gay community especially after all the crap they have gone through and still do to some extent.
    Yes of course some gay people come out as Bi first as this is more comfortable for them, that does not mean Bisexual people do not exist.
    Yes we can feel attracted to both sexes, however this in no way means we are more likely to cheat than a straight person or gay person. We can form monogamous relationships just like straights and gays too.

    Sometimes you gays depress me with your bigoted, phobic views

  5. Dionysian 7 Oct 2010, 5:36pm

    I second Gaz. I was married to a woman for 5 years and one of the factors that led to our divorce was that she didn’t understand / couldn’t handle my bisexuality. She was convinced I was going to shag every man I saw and found attractive.
    I’m happy to say I’m now with a gay guy who also didn’t understand what bisexuality involved. So he took the time to look it up and ask questions. I took him to our local bisexual social and picnic and he understands that I love HIM and while I still find women attractive I’m not about to go chasing after them.
    I just wish I could do the same for my work colleagues, who frequently make comments like “you were married, yes, and have had girlfriends, but that was just because you didn’t want to admit you were gay.” and even my gay colleagues and friends have asked when I’m going to stop keeping one foot in the closet and just admit it to myself. Grrrrrr.
    (my response is that I get the best of both worlds and when are THEY going to stop limiting themselves to just 50% of the population…)

  6. From the story: “There are some issues which are only specific to bisexuals that people don’t realise or think about”.

    Can someone give me some examples.

    The most common complaint I hear from bisexuals is ‘People just think I’m pretending to be bi, as they think I don’t want acknowledge the fact that I’m gay.’

    Are there other examples?

  7. As a gay man who has experienced prejudice, the idea of biphobia seems utterly bizarre to me. I can’t understand why any gay person in their right mind would dislike someone who’s pretty much on the same page in terms of fighting for equal rights. I’ve never even batted an eye lid at it, and, until now, always thought the biphobia claims were just some people having a whine. Apparently not!

  8. Ciaran McHale 8 Oct 2010, 10:17am

    Unfortunately, being oppressed is no guarantee that you won’t oppress others. If it were, then I would do the world a favour and oppress everybody.

    Gaz (comment 4) wrote: “Sometimes you gays depress me with your bigoted, phobic views.” The same could be said about any group, including bisexuals.

    Like many other bisexuals, I have experienced anti-bi comments from both straight and gay people. But I have no reason to think that gay people are more likely to be biphobic than straight people. Rather, I think it is just easier to notice when a gay person is biphobic than notice when a straight person is biphobic. Why? Because a straight person who is biphobic might also be homophobic and make a homophobic comment before (or instead of) making a biphobic comment. Thus, it is easy for a bisexual person to mislabel a straight individual as being just homophobic rather than as being both homophobic and biphobic. Because of this, we can easily underestimate the amount of biphobia in the straight community.

    Regards,
    Ciaran.

  9. Aside from people saying ‘Oh you’re just too scared to admit you’re gay’ or people thinking that bi people are untrustworthy, can anyone explain how biphobia differs from homophobia?

    Specific, real life examples of prejudice, violence or bigotry that is unique to bisexuals. This report seems to suggest that such instances occur.

    Personally I have met a few horribly homophobic, bi people – the type that wants to sleep with you, but will utterly ignore you, or deny your existence or pretend to be straight when out in public, to protect their heterosexual facade.

    Obviously not all bi people are like that.

    However when bi people say that some gay people are biphobic, they don’t seem to acknowledge how homophobic a lot of bi people are.

    No-one should face discrimination based on their sexuality. But bi people need to realise that if is their job to fight biphobia. If they expect the lesbian and gay people to do it for them, then they will be disappointed. Lesbian and gay people cannot magically understand the specific issues that bi people claim to deal with.

    Bi people can help themselves by fighting their cause. And unless those closeted bi people start coming out then they will have a big struggle.

    1. journeywork 26 Oct 2011, 10:26pm

      Bisexuals have been part of the struggle for ALL queer rights from the beginning. (For example, the woman who organized the first Pride Parades in New York after the Stonewall Uprising was bi.) However, people often make bisexuals invisible by assuming we’re gay/lesbian or straight, based on the gender of a partner.

      If you think we haven’t been speaking up and organizing for decades, you haven’t been paying close enough attention.

      Bisexuals were also on the forefront as trans allies way before it was hip. (Of course, there are many trans bi people as well!)

      Obviously, every group has its share of jerks. That doesn’t make the larger pattern of biphobia any less real. Here’s a whole list of ways that biphobia manifests: http://lanikaahumanu.com/looklike.shtml

  10. I just am intersted to know , if the level of biphobia in the straight community and to some extent in the gay community makes it very problematic to come out. As well there are quite a few bisexuals fighting for gay rights in my experience, I wonder would a show of coming out improve their situation. Maybe the level of biphobia makes this difficult , but surely it was just as difficult to come out before the general acceptance of gays in the west.

  11. I can’t see how coming out as bisexual would be more difficult than coming out as lesbian or gay.

    Perhaps it is more problematic if the bi person is in an opposite sex relationship, as there will cettainly be issues of trust involved ie ‘Didn’t you think you should have told me?’ ‘Aren’t you really gay?’ etc.

    But it’s also true to point out that oftentimes bi people don’t come out because they don’t feel any need to.

    If they are in a committed opposite sex relationship they feel ‘Why bother? I can keep my heterosexual privilege by keeping my mouth shut.’

  12. Im not sure either if all biphobic people are homophobic. I once heard a heterosexual women declare ” that all gay men deserve respect , but bisexual men were evil”. Was she afraid of being tarnished by a male who has “gay” sex with men.
    I would be pretty sure though that the vast amount of biphobic attacks are committed by young str8 men , possibbly egged on by there girlfriends disgusted by someone bringing in “dirty AIDS” sex in to her female heterosexual community. I am glad I do not have to face the challenges faced by the bi community, but would love to be enlightened here by any bi people.
    I know what its like , when I suggested my minority faced severe discrimination in my birth country, the gay ultranationalists came out with the venom and bile. Good luck in your struggle guys , and please enlighten me in my virtual ignorance of the subject.But maybe not as ignorant as some of the muppets on this site.

  13. @Gaz – “Sometimes you gays depress me with your bigoted, phobic views”

    Kettle, let me introduce you to pot :-)

  14. We are discriminated in the heterosexual and homosexual ‘community’. Sad.

  15. “We are discriminated in the heterosexual and homosexual ‘community’. Sad.”

    How?

    I hope you are not denying the homophobia of many bi people?

    We’re still waiting to hear specific examples of biphobia that differ in real terms from general homophobia.

    Gay people seem a lot more out and proud than bi people.

    That is not our fault.

    Bi people (especially the closet cases) need to openly reject the heterosexual privilege they often enjoy (they can and do ‘pass’ as straight quite often).

    Bi people cannot expect lesbian and gay people to fight their specific battles for them. They need to take responsibility and start advocating for their specific issues.

  16. Kay from New Zealand 9 Oct 2010, 7:55am

    I’ve identified as bisexual for over 30 years but lesbians still tell me it’s just a phase. At my workplace my lesbian co-worker gets respected and none of our straight co-workers would dream of being homophobic to her, but they feel OK dissing me with comments like,”being bisexual means you have to buy sex, right?” When a young male friend moved to my town and joined our local GLBT groups he was mocked by gay men in the groups who said that bisexuality didn’t exist. Finally he said OK he was really gay, at which point they were more friendly to him. Months later he told me he’s now got a girlfriend and gone back to identifying as bisexual. He hadn’t really changed and was and always had been bisexual, he just got fed up that no-one would accept him for who he is.

  17. So Bisexuals are upset because people think they are gay. Awwww, how terrible.

    When was the last time a kid got beaten up in a school playground for being ‘Bi’, or taunted for being ‘Bi’. When was the last time you heard someone shouting ‘biphobic’ abuse at someone – ‘you bloody Bi bast*rd’. When was the last time a bi person was executed for being ‘bi’. When was the last time a world leader said ‘bisexuality’ is an abomination?

    I don’t see any biphobia that is a problem. ‘Cause if your biggest problem is that ‘people think I’m gay’ (when you’re living in a gay relationship), then get over it.

    Gay/lesbians are campaigning to gain legal equality, to stop violence and bullying, to stop world leaders condemning us, to stop executions and imprisonment in the world for gay/lesbians.
    What exactly are bisexuals fighting for?

    And this woman is trying to divert resources away from a group of people who are truly victimised by society, for a group who do not suffer unless they live the ‘gay’ life.

  18. bisexuals get as much hate as others or possible even more like Kay from New Zealand highlighted, many people who are gay or lesbian seem to think it’s Ok to be bigoted against bisexuals

  19. Ciaran McHale 9 Oct 2010, 5:16pm

    Leo (comment 17) wrote: “Gay/lesbians are campaigning to gain legal
    equality, to stop violence and bullying, to stop world leaders
    condemning us, to stop executions and imprisonment in the world for
    gay/lesbians. What exactly are bisexuals fighting for?”

    Mostly the same thing. As far as I am aware, a randomly picked bisexual
    person is just as likely to be fighting to end homophobia as is a
    randomly picked gay man or lesbian.

    I find that the word “biphobia” often causes misunderstandings. I think
    this is (at least partly) because the coinage of the term “biphobia” is
    based on the term “homophobia”, so many people perceive biphobia as
    something that is *claimed to be* as horrific as homophobia. Of course,
    biphobia is *not* as horrific as homophobia. For example, there are lots
    of documented incidents of homophobia resulting in people being beaten
    up, murdered, evicted or losing a job. I am not aware of any documented
    cases of biphobia having such effects. (Sure, a bisexual person can be
    beaten up, murdered, evicted or lose a job, but those things happen due
    to homophobia rather than biphobia.)

    A gay person who thinks/assumes bisexuals are claiming biphobia is as
    horrific as homophobia is likely to respond by dismissing biphobia as
    either not existing or being an insignificant concern.

    The result can be mutual annoyance: (1) gay people are annoyed with bi
    people who incorrectly claim that biphobia is as horrific as homophobia;
    and (2) bi people are annoyed with gay people who incorrectly dismiss
    biphobia as either not existing or being an insignificant issue.

    David (comment 15) asked for “specific examples of biphobia that differ
    in real terms from general homophobia.” Here are two examples that
    spring to mind.

    1. The fear that a bisexual partner is likely to dump you for somebody
    else whose gender is different to your own. The result of this form of
    biphobia is rejection. Prejudice-based rejection by a potential lover is
    nowhere near as serious as being beaten up, murdered, or losing your
    job/accommodation. But it *is* prejudice and it stings emotionally. If
    it happens often enough, then a bi person may find it easier to go into
    the closet about being bi; just pretend to be gay when with a same-sex
    partner, and pretend to be straight with an other-sex partner. Some gay
    people accuse bi people of availing of heterosexual privilege when doing
    this, but I’m not sure what is the privilege of being in the closet.

    2. I assume you know the concept of “gay invisibility”, and that it is
    important to fight against it. Likewise, there is the concept of
    “bisexual invisibility”, and it is important to fight against it.

    Regards,
    Ciaran.

  20. I’ve just realised, it’s bisexuals that are the worst homophobes. From another story, someone gave me a link to the top 5 homophobes, when I looked at them, all 5 had led heterosexual lives, and been vocal about their homophobia, but had then been caught having sporadic gay sex – bisexuals who don’t like the gay side of themselves. So maybe you’re right Ciaran, maybe all the resources should be directed to bisexuals. ‘Cause unlike your idea that bisexuals are just as likely to be fighting for gay rights than any homosexual, it seems they are also our biggest enemy.

  21. Leo – many who are famous and married are repressed homosexuals who have tried and failed to keep away from guys! that doesn’t have anything to do with bisexuality

  22. poeticlicense 10 Oct 2010, 12:49pm

    They are wrong, it is transsexuals who get the raw deal

  23. I had a bisexual partner who began a serious relationship with a woman when we were together and said he wanted to have us both. I was not at all into this but he was the one who finally ended our relationship, largely because he wanted to be clearly seen to be in a straight relationship to improve his career chances (I am talking about 20+ years ago but I’m sure lots of work cultures are still the same, regardless of laws against discrimination).
    I know it is unfair to stereotype bisexual people as ‘all’ behaving in these ways but bis need to understand what is behind a lot of gay/lesbian reservations about them. At the very least one can feel, if one is in a relationship with a bi person, that the very nature of their sexuality means that one cannot satisfy all their desires or expectations and feel insecure as a result. I am sure many bi people are faithful to partners but those who really need sexual partners of both sexes should at least be totally honest about it from the outset and find partners willing to have ‘open’ relationships.
    The other problem is the feeling that bis (as in my ex-partner’s case) are easily inclined to pass as straight to pander to a homophobic society – and without the stress experienced by many closeted gays of having to have an unwanted straight relationship! Again it is unfair to tar all bis with this brush, but these things cannot be that uncommon given the world we live in. I sympathise with bis who get short shrift from gays and lesbians but they need to realise it can be based on fears which are not baseless. I am sure openness and honesty all round will be a big help. I must also add that I have no truck with the nonsense of believing that bisexuality doesn’t actually exist which people use in order order to dismiss or devalue bi experience.

  24. Ciaran McHale 10 Oct 2010, 3:26pm

    Leo (comment 20) wrote: “So maybe you’re right Ciaran, maybe all the resources should be directed to bisexuals.”

    Huh? I did not say any such thing. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    Regards,
    Ciaran.

  25. So much stupidity is displayed in this thread. So one bi guy was nasty to you, and you assume that ALL bi guys are nasty? But when your gay boyfriend is nasty to you, you don’t then go and assume that all gay men are nasty, do you?!

    Stop being hypocrites. Gay people don’t like being told “It’s just a phase”. It’s really annoying. So when bi people complain that it’s not just straight people they get stick from, you should show a little sympathy.

    What’s to stop a gay bf going off with another guy just as a bi guy might go off with either? If your bf cheats and leaves you, there’s a good chance he was a jerk and you’re nothing but better off.

  26. /\ And I say the above as a gay man

  27. Sally Goldner 11 Oct 2010, 11:02am

    Another bi sterotype is that unless you’re 50/50 re bisexuality someone else classifies you as either gay/lesbian or heterosexual against your will.

    I think it is possible to have empathy for others so I disagree with comment 15: “Bi people cannot expect lesbian and gay people to fight their specific battles for them. They need to take responsibility and start advocating for their specific issues.”

    People ask for so-called gay-straight aliiances, so bi-gay (and trans-gay) seem equally reasonable things as well.

    Virtually all of our issues – G L B T – stem from heteronormativity/heterosexism. When we work on the common ground, perhaps all homo, bi and trans phobia can be markedly reduced

  28. A 3rd specific problem is that when bi people come out and look for community, we often find hostility from gay men and lesbians (which seems to be lessening amongst younger people, though I’ve seen and heard some real shockers).

    At a time when you’re feeling lonely because people DO assume you’re straight, and when you need support in dealing with your feelings, any negative reaction seems disproportionately hurtful, and it’s easy to get the idea that gay men and lesbians are not safe people to be around.

    That’s really sad, because there are plenty of gay men and lesbians who are great friends and mentors to people of all orientations and gender identities, and who really are absolute gems.

    We’ve all been there, though, at the point in our lives when we didn’t notice that the most cruel and vitriolic comments came from the most unhappy, and that the kind and sensible ones came from those who were grounded, mature, and secure in themselves. We do have a tendency in those fragile moments to notice and absorb the nastiness because it reinforces all our self-doubt and self-loathing.

    Every human’s experienced that at some point. Every queer and trans person has experienced it.

    Some of my trans friends have told me that they had similar experiences, when the gay men and lesbians they knew as their community shunned or reviled them when they came to terms with their gender identities. Suddenly, what seemed their only genuinely safe space became very unsafe indeed.

    And that’s a big problem.

    It may well happen with gay men and lesbians who don’t fit their local LGBTQ community’s idea of what a Real gay man or lesbian looks or behaves like. I remember the days when two “femme” women were refused entrance to a lesbian club because no-one would believe that they could possibly be a) Proper Lesbians or b) a couple. They were young, they were madly in love, they were politically active and out and proud, and they were gutted. They experienced quite a lot of it, and when last I saw them (20? 25? years ago), they were feeling very isolated indeed. I hope things got better.

    The issue of blanking same sex partners or of cheating aren’t about orientation. They’re about the horrible effects of the closet, and they’re about lack of security and maturity. I’ve seen people of all orientations, gender identities, and configurations of relationships screw up, act like idiots, hurt others, do despicable things; I’ve also seen people all over the spectrum behave like sane, honest, decent, loving, healthy, functional people and have solid relationships (monogamous or otherwise).

    In the end, it’s about emotional maturity, folks.

    So the real question is, how do we ensure that we create a culture in which all people feel free to express their orientations, gender identities, and their own bad selves authentically, healthily, and in ways which enrich and contribute to the health and happiness of our society?

    I’m betting that calling people names and getting freaked out left, right and centre isn’t a good start.

  29. Sally Outen 12 Oct 2010, 11:32am

    *Applauds Kaz’s last comment*

  30. My my … some of the usual trolls out to start trouble are here…. Anyway, to answer some of the queries about what specific issues bisexuals face in the workplace, I’ll paste my answer from FB (but know there are several new studies going on as we speak that are continuing to investigate bisexuals in the workplace, so more info forthcoming): “Issues I have heard of/read about stem from misunderstanding what bisexuality actually means, sexual harrassment and isolation. For instance, bi woman complains to HR of being harrassed by coworker and gets a response along lines of ‘what do you expect if you announce to everyone that you are bisexual’ (i.e., working from the myth thtat bi = ‘a slut/sexual available/up for it with anyone’). Other things have to do with being isolated from both gay and straight coworkers (fed by the myth that a bi person is just not fully out yet as gay and therefore does not fully fit in with or accepted and therefore isolated at work, re: both assignments and social situations). Other things I have heard of affect both bi women and lesbians related to sexist assumptions and harrassment.”

  31. Oh dear. Same arguments that were happening 25 years ago, I see.

    The only thing I have to add is that passing is NOT privilege – it is an effect of homophobia, biphobia and heteronormativity. Passing is a *miserable* experience.

  32. Thank you flame for pointing that out. Passing is a miserable experience, as gays and lesbians surely know. So why do some gay people (key to say ‘some’ but not all; and an increasingly small ‘some’ at that as the years go on) keep acting as if bisexuals are all seeking to pass in straight society? Rubbish. And why when we do partner in same sex couples do some gays insist we are no longer bi and should rightly now call oursevles gay or we are still trying to partake of some hetero privilege? It’s ridiculous. That’s why biphobia and harrassment from the LGBT community hurts more than from the straight community, because queer people do know better. They know how painful the closet is, how destructive descrimination is… yet some still heap it upon other queer people. Like a wilful desire to cause harm. Strange and inexplicable.

  33. PumpkinPie 14 Oct 2010, 4:56pm

    My internet access has been very limited over the past week or so. As such, I was greatly annoyed to have not had enough time to respond to this thread, being both bisexual and a regular visitor to this site. At the same time, I was so pleased to see all the rational and supportive comments speaking out against the bigots here.

    Bigots like Leo and David. They have the gall to ask us what sort of prejudices we face and then bombard us with spiteful stereotyping. Apparently, we have a “heterosexual privilege”, we need to “come out of the closet”, we need to “fight our own fights” and stop “leeching” off of the brave gays.

    **** you. You are EXACTLY the same sort of people as racists and homophobes. You are EXACTLY the same as ethnic minorities who vote against gay rights, reasoning that it’s OK, because this time, with this minority, the slurs are true! Everyone was wrong about your minority, but the bisexuals really are as lazy and cowardly and duplicitous and unproud as you think they are! Have you ever experienced homophobia in your life? I find that hard to believe, because if you have, then you have learned NOTHING from it.

    If you want to learn, how about you stop talking to convenient, imaginary stereotypes and start engaging with some of the real bisexuals right here on this very site?

    Why should gays bother about bisexuals? Because we’re all in this together. Go ahead and impress upon me the importance of going it alone, but, as someone who sticks up for gays, lesbians, trans people, ethnic minorities, I will not let you make me feel guilty about expecting other people to have some compassion.

    Bisexuals should have been fighting for our rights instead of letting gays do it? That’s a bit bloody rich. Last I heard, we’ve been fighting for DECADES. For our rights and your rights, because they’re the same bloody rights. We are activists, counsellors, charity workers, and you have the cheek to say we should step up just because we don’t wear little tags that read “actually, I’m bi, not gay”. I run a bi group on an LGBT forum I frequent. I am routinely surprised at the amount of people signing up who I’d just assumed were gay. And I’m not a bigot. Think how many bis you bigots must have let slip by, just because you assumed they were gay…

    And remember, dearest victim-mentality bigots, homophobia isn’t just “your” thing, either. It is applied to anyone who feels same-sex attraction. Saying that only 50% of bisexuals (the ones in same-sex relationships) have to put up with it is as stupid as saying that only gays in relationships suffer homophobia.

    To end on a less negative point, I was recently pleasantly surprised by a member in my bi group. In my weaker moments, I occasionally, briefly, let the biphobia get to me. I’m only attracted to femininity and androgyny. Masculinity doesn’t really tickle my fancy. I wonder, for a briefest moment, if that diminishes me as a bisexual. I know it doesn’t. I know the 50/50 thing is rubbish, but it still makes me think. And then I see this other bi guy’s profile: “interested in masculine men and tomboys”. And all of a sudden, I feel totally at ease. For every person that says all bi people just end up with guys, there’s one that says they always end up with girls. Balance is restored. :)

  34. I think specific issues that affect bisexuality are, rather than the really awful homophobia which can at the extreme end be a denial of rights and aims to have them killed in certain countries, being laughed at, disrespect, and verbal and psychological bullying.
    The only situation i can imagine biphobia being as bad as homophobia is if bisexuals were attacked by gays for being traitors, dirty, stealing rights etc but i have never heard of that happening though I haven’t looked for it. I’m sure it might have happened somewhere some time but i doubt its a big thing.
    but homophobia in this country is usually less its usually being slagged off in media for gay agenda and B@Bs having rights, church having rights, mocked or being butch or effeminate or gross or full of aids.
    this is more on par with biphobia.
    lots of media articles are about famous people cheating on their partners with a different sex to their partner, portraying young girls as doing it for attention etc.
    Being laughed at and teased and rejected in relationships and family and friends.
    Alot of people who accept gays do not accept bis and see it as a joke or unreal or gross.
    Bisexual specific issues=full of disease and promiscuous, untrustworrthy sexual perverts and preditors and who will eventually cheat as they can’t be satisfied by one person
    Not really as everyone is either gay or straight so they are confused, really gay and hiding or doing it for attention
    also seen as a phase leading to homosexuality or a thing teenage girls go through before becoming straight.
    -cheaters
    -phase
    -not real at all
    -dirty or perverted
    -unimportant
    -desperate
    -attention seeking
    -always lean more one way than another so may as well call themselves straight or gay
    -should identify in accordance with gender of partner

    is this helpful?
    Oh some people have very little or zero knowledge of bisexuality and don’t even know what it is or how to react to it. yes thick i know. i find this most in older people.
    I do horribly resent cheating bis. i can understand a bad name developing for us.

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