Lois Wilkinson one of our LGBT+ Staff Network members says why it’s important to celebrate Bi- awareness week
What is Bi – Visibility Day and Bi- Awareness week?
Bi – visibility day falls on the 23rd September and is an annual celebration of Bisexuality and the achievements made by the community in overcoming discrimination such as Biphobia and Bi-Erasure (Bi- Invisibility). The day also marks the beginning of Bi- Awareness week, which runs from 23 – 30th September.
Discrimination against Bisexuals is present both outside of and within the LGBT+ community. Biphobia comes in many different forms from people who are both overtly homophobic but also those who are not. I’m sure many people who are bisexual or bi-curious can relate to comments such as:
- “You are either gay or straight… make your mind up”
- “You must prefer one or the other!”
- “It’s a bit greedy to have relationships with both men and women”
- “I think you’re going through an experimental ‘phase’ don’t worry it will pass”
- “You just haven’t found the right man yet”
- “Bisexuals cannot commit to a monogamous relationship”
- “I think some people claim to be Bi for attention, because it’s cool”
- “She is ‘allegedly bisexual’”
- “Well he has found a girlfriend so at least he is straight now”
It’s sad to say but I am sure some of you will have heard the above comments or variations of them (myself included!). Comments and stereotypes like these are harmful to the Bi community, perpetuate Biphobia and promote the belief that Bisexuality is ‘invalid’. This in turn creates ‘Bi-Erasure’ or ‘Bi-Invisibility’ which has a damaging impact on the Bi community who suffer from regular discrimination (including the workplace), are made to feel invisible and fearful to come out. As a result, many Bi people feel ‘invisible’ in society and the LGBT+ community.
It’s important to know you are NOT alone!
Cinematic icons such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Ezra Miller, Alan Cumming, Anthony Perkins, Bella Thorne, Cary Grant and Drew Barrymore.
Ground-breaking artists Jean- Michel Basquiat, Frida Kahlo, and from the literary world icons such as Oscar Wilde, Hans Christian Anderson and Tennessee Williams.
Influential musicians Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Billie Holliday, Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin, Frank Ocean, Demi Lovato, Lou Reed, Bjork and Janelle Monae
What do all these recognisable people have in common? You guessed it, they are all famous bisexuals.
What can we do to celebrate and promote Bi- visibility and awareness?
As with pride, this year’s celebrations are a little different. Due to the ongoing pandemic celebrations are limited and mostly virtual. Here are some ideas for how you can participate in Bi- Visibility day and Awareness week.
- Be visible (if you choose to) – Don’t feel pressured to come out if you don’t want to but if you feel the time is right why not talk to a trusted close family member, friend or colleague.
- Connect with the Trust/Council LGBT+ network group – the group is very friendly, welcoming and provides a great way to connect with the community at work and meet new friends.
- Check out local and national organisations that support the Bisexual community such as Northern Pride, LGBT+ North East (part of Humankind), Stonewall, Bi.org. You can donate to local and national organisations which will help support the vital work they do for the community.
- Check out the bi- visibility day hashtags on social media – be inspired by personal stories, photos, creativity, poems, songs and art. Connect with your community across the world
- Dispel the stereotypes and actively promote positivity – This may include conversations with family, friends, work colleagues or counsellors
- Read up on the progress and achievements already made by the bi community in tackling biphobia and bi-erasure. So much has change and is changing as we speak!
- Celebrate Bi- visibility and awareness through music or film.
- Connect with your community and allies virtually! -Sadly, due to the current coronavirus pandemic we are unable to meet up with those outside our household. However, that does not stop virtual celebrations or catch up through video calling apps such as Zoom.
- Join an organised virtual celebration. Check out local LGBT, Bi and charity groups for events (some are ticketed or request a donation to charity). LGBT foundation has a Bi-Programme with special events for Bi – Visibility day such as ‘Battle of the Bis ‘vote for your favourite Bi fictional character and talks on Bi history and issues facing the community
- Be inspired by the flag – sport the flag on a pin, add a frame to your social media profile picture to show your support/identification, search bi-pride beauty tutorials… the possibilities are endless!
- Join a Bisexual community online, find local groups on social media and engage with others in the community by sharing experiences, stories, advice and events.
Most importantly… celebrate being yourself. You are valid, you are not alone and you are part of a brilliant and vibrant community!
Take care, stay safe and enjoy celebrating!