Happy Bisexual Awareness Week, everyone!
While we passively acknowledge the bi+ community every time we say LGBTQ+, the B in this conversation is given little recognition. So this week, the bi+ community comes together with our allies to remind everyone that bisexuality is a valid identity and there is still plenty of work to be done to end bi erasure. We’ve all heard the ridiculous misconceptions; there continue to be predominantly negative and inaccurate representations of the bi+ community in the media, as well as discussed in queer spaces. Contrary to what some people believe, bisexuality has a very nuanced history, and the work that has been done over the years still continues today.
In honor of this work and the celebration of Bisexual Awareness Week, GLAAD hosted the first ever panel about bi+ representation in current media, which you can watch on their Facebook page. This panel featured intersecting perspectives from within the bi+ community, including advocates Alex Berg, Eliel Cruz, Bryan J. Ellicott, Ashley Ford, Denarii Monroe, and Mathew Rodriguez. All of the panelists have experience in a number of mediums that give the bi+ community a more prominent voice and tell the stories of community members across the spectrum. One thought that I couldn’t help but return to throughout the night was the fact that I had never been in a space that was so focused and dedicated to the bi+ community. Thanks to GLAAD’s Senior Strategist Alexandra Bolles, we were finally given that opportunity. It was an incredible party to witness.
The panelists discussed many issues facing the bi+ community, such as the lack of representation in the media despite statistically being the majority of the LGBTQ+ community, the negative connotations people tend to associate with bi+ people, like being indecisive, confused, or overly promiscuous. and the work that has to continue to be done in order to give the bi+ community a more positive portrayal in the media. These panelists spoke from places of personal experience, which added an incredible sense of authenticity to the panel. Their intersecting perspectives were a genuine treat for the audience to experience, as we were all there to celebrate bisexuality and discuss the ways we can all contribute to bettering visibility and offering more accurate representations of our community in the media.
Panel moderator and Mic writer Mathew Rodriguez asked the panelists to share their first memory of seeing a bi+ person in the media, and I realized how difficult that question was to answer. Panelists shared answers like Dr. Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Callie Torres from Grey’s Anatomy, but I started to consider my own experiences and realized how upsetting it was to come to the conclusion I could probably count the amount of bi+ characters I’ve seen in the media on one hand. From a statistical perspective, Eliel Cruz, Executive Director of Faith in America, shared the correlation between visibility and funding. Using the trans community as an example, Cruz brought attention to the fact that there is a direct correlation between the representation minority groups have in the media to the amount of money and work being put into bettering their communities. We still have a lot of work to do.
On the topic of bi+ erasure, the panelists offered a number of experiences that contribute to one of the most prominent problems facing the community. Alex Berg, a producer at HuffPost Video, spoke about an instance in which a celebrity’s publicist forbade the word bisexual to be used – even though the celebrity has since come out about their sexuality and was in the process of writing a memoir in which the topic was featured. Denarii Monroe also spoke about a similar issue, sharing times when her work was not accepted because it was not the “typical” bi experience…whatever that means. In the words of Ashley Ford, “People are obsessed with certainty, which doesn’t exist.” As was proven by the different experiences of all of our panelists, everyone has their own personal relationship with what it means to be bisexual. There are different definitions depending on who you ask, there is no one “type” of bisexual person, and most importantly, our identity is not something for you to make assumptions about. Which is why we need our voices to be heard. Which is why we need to have better representation. Which is why Bi Week is so important.
I love being part of this community. After getting through the hard times of listening to people claiming that bisexuality didn’t exist and forcing people choose one side and claiming fluidity was just a way to get attention, I was able to grow and understand that my identity was valid. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by positivity within both my personal and queer spaces, but I know this is not the case for everybody. And this is why we have to keep working toward progress within the bi+ community. I want younger generations to be able to see their identities truly representation in the TV shows they watch. I want people to talk about bisexuality with the same validity they talk about gay and lesbian identities. Because of events like Bi Week and the recognition of the work that is continuing to be done within the community, I’d like to think that’s a place we can get to someday.
Thanks to everyone at GLAAD for hosting this event, and a special thanks to Alexandra for being such a rockstar.
Bi Week might just be until Friday, but for so many of us, it’s always Bi Week. 🙂
Check out my Twitter for some livetweeting from the event!