This week is Bi Visibility Week – celebrating the ‘B’ in LGBT, recognising the challenges that bisexual people face, and learning how to be good allies to bi people by tackling biphobia and discrimination.
Bi Week started on Monday and builds to Bi Visibility Day on September 23rd (Saturday), and it’s marked by a number of events and activities for bisexual people and their allies.
Why is Bi Visibility Week so important?
Biphobia is everywhere, and stereotypes about bisexual people have an extremely harmful impact. This summary, written by bisexual writer Alex Esche for BiscuitMag, sums up some of the damaging assumptions and the effect they can have:
“So, to my lesbian friend who should have been the first person I came out to and ended up being the last. To my mother who told me that everyone was bisexual (“except for those gay guys”) and that I was nothing special. To my therapist who happily suggested I shouldn’t make such a fuss about the whole thing and let it get me down so much. To all of those out there thinking bisexuality isn’t a thing, that it’s a stepping stone towards coming out as gay, that it’s a phase for straight women bored with men, or something to attract straight guys with:
I was right there with you. I believed all of those things (except the last one, I mean, even I knew that one was complete bullshit). But I still knew I was bisexual. I hated it and I tried so very hard not to be.”
The Bisexuality Report – published in 2015, in collaboration with the Open University – explored the specific challenges of bisexual people in the UK, and how LGBTQ+ organisations could better support bisexual needs. The report explained that:
Negative stereotypes about bisexual people – that they’re ‘greedy’ or they can’t ‘pick a side’ or that they are simply ‘undecided’ about being gay or straight – are incredibly pervasive. What’s more they’re reinforced by portrayals of bisexual people in the media, and they are even sometimes rolled out at Pride events. This year Steve Taylor, Co-Chair of the UK Pride Organisers Network, pointed out that performers on stage at Pride itself used tired stereotypes to ‘joke’ about bisexual people – at an event which was supposed to include them.
“Pride isn’t for everyone, and I have LGBTI friends who hate it. But bisexual people should be free to be as excited about Pride as I am, as some of my LGTI friends are. They shouldn’t avoid Pride for fear of being the butt of jokes about their – completely valid – sexuality of being attracted to more than one gender.”
Bi Visibility Week is important because bisexual people still face discrimination – and that discrimination has a deeply harmful impact on their welfare. Having a week of events and education focused on bisexual issues helps to educate people about the specific challenges bisexual people face, and hopefully encourage them to tackle biphobia and find new ways to support their bisexual friends, family and coworkers.
Bi Week – events in London and the UK
There are plenty of events in London to head along to:
If you’re quick, tonight you can head along to London’s Bi Poetry Night, at the Phoenix Artist’s Club just off Charing Cross Road. Listen to fantastic poets reading their work, and if you’re feeling brave join the open mic section with poetry of your own.
Queer as Jokes: a new night of LGBTQI+ comedy at the Bill Murray pub in Islington. Tickets are £5 and can be booked in advance via the website.
If you fancy something with more singing and dancing, CaBiRet is putting on a show down at the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell. Tickets are free, but there’ll be a collection for bisexual causes later in the evening so give generously to support your local bi activists and charities.
Further afield, there are plenty of events in other UK cities and around the world – check out the Bi Visibility Day website and find Bi Visibility Day events near you.
Bi Visibility Week – Who to follow
The Bisexual Index (@bisexualindex) – a large bisexual organisation focused on highlighting biphobia and providing support to tackle biphobia wherever it occurs. They’re also the founders of the fantastic CaBiRet and they co-wrote the Bisexuality Report, both mentioned above.