A bisexual activist has stripped off and scrawled homophobic insults across his body to make a statement about bi-erasure and discrimination.
Lewis Oakley wrote phrases such as “gay in denial”, “pick one” and “it’s just a phase” on his body – all phrases that he hears on a daily basis.
Oakley was influenced to create the powerful images both from his own experience with bi-erasure and the Bisexuality Report which was recently released.
The report found that bisexual people found higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide than other sexualities. All factors that were found to be linked to the negative discrimination against bisexual people.
Oakley said the difference between just hearing the words and “seeing them projected onto someone’s body” was powerful.
He said: “Sometimes we need a visual reminder of what we are doing, these are comments said to bisexuals every day. Sometimes you have to hold a mirror to society and show them the consequences.
“We love to pat ourselves on the back as a progressive society, but that idea falls flat when it comes to bisexual men. People’s first question shouldn’t be, which one do you prefer? Or, you know you’ll end up gay right?
The activist added that people’s perception of his sexuality has put pressures on his own relationship with his girlfriend.
“Especially when research shows men are far more likely to be bisexual than gay. The amount of times my girlfriend is told I’ll leave her for a man is beyond frustrating,” he said.
Oakley said that bisexual people receive a “double whammy of prejudice” because both “gay and straight people believe them to be promiscuous or confused”.
“These assumptions are not true and i’m hoping people might see these images and ask themselves why they have these negative views of Bisexual people.”
Photographer Tom Dingley who worked on the shoot added that the images showed “serious” but very real insults that bisexual people were subjected to.
“These comments range from the absent minded questions to the more serious insults bisexuals are subjected to.
“The concept is really strong we’ve simply taken what is said verbally and projected it visually to highlight what bisexual men hear all the time.”