Despite being the B in LGBT, bisexual people can feel overlooked and misunderstood. They’re also often subjected to complete nonsense, biphobia and ignorance.
Thankfully, there are plenty of bisexual heroes out there championing bisexual rights – whether they’re activists, writers or celebrities speaking out.
From Evan Rachel Wood to Alan Cumming, here’s a handful of our favourite bi heroes.
1. Lou Reed
Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed was subjected to electroshock therapy at an early age, in an attempt to “discourage” his bisexuality.
In his book ‘Please Kill Me: An Oral History Of Punk,’ Reed wrote: “They put the thing down your throat so you don’t swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head.
“That’s what was recommended in Rockland State Hospital to discourage homosexual feelings.
“The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can’t read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again.”
Despite this horrifying treatment, he became a music legend.
2. Rabbi Debra Kolodny
Rabbi Debra Kolodny is a bisexual rights activist and congregational rabbi who recently served as Executive Director of Nehirim – a national Jewish LGBTQ retreat and advocacy organisation.
She published Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith in 2000, and is an all-round badass bisexual boss.
3. Alan Cumming
Cabaret and Good Wife star Alan Cumming was married to actress Hilary Lyon from 1985 to 1993 – before tying the knot with current husband Grant Shaffer in 2007.
Alan’s activism has earned him many humanitarian awards from amfAR, Human Rights Campaign, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, GLAAD and the Trevor Project.
4. Robyn Ochs
Robyn Ochs is an American bisexual activist, professional speaker and workshop leader.
She edited the Bisexual Resource Guide (published annually from 1990 to 2002), as well as the anthology Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.
Ochs also helped found the Boston Bisexual Network in 1983 and the Bisexual Resource Center in 1985, and has served on the Board of Directors of MassEquality – Massachussetts’ equality organisation – since 2004.
5. Julia Serano
Dr Julia Serano is an American writer, performer, biologist, and trans-bi activist.
She is the author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, and has also written Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive, and Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism.
6. Evan Rachel Wood
Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood came out as bisexual in 2011, and has spoken openly about her sexuality since then – and supported and championed LGBT rights.
Explaining she contemplated suicide because she had no way to express herself, Wood said: “There was nowhere to go.
“I think I already realised being bisexual or saying I’m bisexual was not cute and was looked down upon.”
In a video released in conjunction with LGBTQ Pride Month in 2016, Wood quoted various statistics, highlighting that bisexual adults are more likely to engage in self-harm and attempt or consider suicide than heterosexuals, lesbians or gay men.
She said: “I can only speak for my experience … there are many, many factors that come into play when dealing with statistics like this, but I can say it certainly heightens them and certainly makes them heavier and more frightening and more lonely and harder to bear, and I hope that by sharing one bisexual story we’ll start to become real people with real stories and real struggles.”
By sharing these statistics and her own experience as a bisexual, Wood hoped to raise awareness and respect for the bisexual community.
7. Frank Ocean
Musician Frank Ocean, who has been named the most powerful LGBT figure in the American music industry, came out as bisexual in 2012.
He revealed his first love was with another man when he was 19 in a heartfelt post on Tumblr.
Writing to fans, he explained: “Four summers ago, I met somebody.
“I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost.
“By the time I realised I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless.
“There was no escaping. No negotiating with the feeling. No choice.
“It was my first love. It changed my life.”
8. Sara Ramirez
Former Grey’s Anatomy actor Sara Ramirez came out as bisexual last year, while giving a speech at the True Colours Fund’s 40 to None Summit in Los Angeles.
The 40 to None summit is named after the 40% of LGBT youth who experience homelessness.
Sara spoke about the intersections many youth face in her speech, and how that can affect identity.
“So many of our youth experiencing homelessness are youth whose lives touch on many intersections – whether they be gender identity, gender expression, race, class, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship status.”
“And because of the intersections that exist in my own life: Woman, multi-racial woman, woman of colour, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish-American, Immigrant, and raised by families heavily routes in Catholicism on both my Mexican and Irish sides, I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth’s voices to be heard, and that support our youth in owning their complex narratives so that we can show up for them in the ways they need us to,” she added.
9. Fritz Klein
Fred ‘Fritz’ Klein was an American psychiatrist and sex researcher who studied bisexuals and bi relationships.
He developed the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid – a scale that measures sexual orientation.
A bisexual himself, Klein was surprised at the lack of literature on his sexuality in the New York Public Library in 1974.
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He founded the Bisexual Forum in the same year, which was the first support group for the bisexual community.
10. CeCe McDonald
CeCe McDonald, an African-American bisexual transgender woman and LGBT rights activist, spent 19 months of her 41-month prison sentence in a men’s prison, despite identifying as female, for the death of Dean Schmitz in June 2011.
McDonald was walking past a bar on the night of Schmitz’s death when she was subjected to racist, transphobic and violent language – resulting in an altercation with Schmitz and others at the bar.
The group threw a glass at McDonald’s face, and she attempted to defend herself with a pair of scissors, which resulted in Schmitz’s death.
Following an outcry from the LGBT community, the folk hero was released from prison.
McDonald is also the subject of FREE CeCe!, a documentary by Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox and Jac Gares.
The film is told through an interview with McDonald conducted by Cox, and deals with CeCe’s imprisonment.
11. Kyle Schickner
An American film producer, writer, director, actor and bisexual rights activist, Kyle Schickner is the founder of FenceSitter Films – a production company devoted to entertainment for women and sexual and ethnic minorities.
While in college, Kyle formed BIAS (Bisexuals Achieving Solidarity), which was the first college bisexual rights group in the US.