Monday, January 18, 2016

Celebrating the B in LGBT!

A lot has been written (like this piece and this piece) about biphobia, lately. And, for good reason! It might surprise folks to know that people who identify as bisexual or bi experience the worst mental health outcomes among people who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual. But, why? Why haven't we heard more about it? And, why don't we know more bisexual folks in our personal and professional lives? 

The answer lies in the fact that people who are bi face a high level of prejudice. The so-called double stigma facing people who are bi includes experiencing social rejection not only from the larger heterosexual society but from within the LGBT community, as well. Common reactions folks experience upon coming out as bi include having their sexuality questioned ("so, you're gay/straight, now?" depending on the gender identity of their current partner) and being labeled as "confused" or even "selfish" for not "making up their minds." Is it any wonder, then, that most of the bisexual community (if we can call such a fragmented invisible group that!) chooses not to come out?

The cost of remaining in the closet is high. We all need to be seen for who we are and our mental health suffers when we cannot. It's traumatic to feel as if who we are is wrong or bad. And, we all suffer when so many of us don't feel safe enough to share who we are with each other. So, what do we do about all this? Let's end biphobia by celebrating all sexualities- especially bisexuality! Because we all want the same thing- to be happy, which involves loving and being loved in return.

When someone comes out to you, trust their words. Respond with a, "thank you so much for sharing with me!" And, even if you don't see many examples of happy, healthy, and out bisexuality out there, trust that you know yourself. I tend to agree with the old saying, "even the most difficult truth is better than living a lie." But, safety comes first. You and only you know how "out" you wish to be. Whatever you decide and to the extent that you are able, I invite you to join in celebrating yourself and others because of who they are. The world is a richer place when we can be ourselves in it.

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