By Heather, an advocate. This is the first of a two-part series. This post is for bi+ folks!
Hey bisexual readers, we see you! March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, so we want to talk about the health of your relationships and the reality of biphobia.
If you’re bisexual (or pan- or polysexual, hetero- or homoflexible, or Queer & non-monosexual) it’s possible that your sexuality has caused some concerns or confusion in your relationship. (Sadly, bisexual women are more likely than any other group to experience intimate partner violence.) We’re here to tell you that none of this is your fault! Healthy relationships are based on trust, honesty, respect and equality. Everyone, of every sexual orientation, deserves that. No matter which gender you or your partner are, your bisexuality is valid.
If you’ve experienced biphobia or monosexism from a past or current partner, Hotline advocates are available by phone and online chat to talk it out. Unfortunately, we know that most bisexual people experience some biphobia most of the time. If biphobia from outside your relationship is affecting your relationship, our advocates can talk about that, too. If you’d like ongoing support from a professional counselor, GoodTherapy is a great place to find someone near you.
Finding community, whether it’s in person or online, can literally be a lifesaver for bisexual people who may feel all alone. Building a support system of people who love you unconditionally is important. While the closet can be lonely, it can also feel safe, so the only person who ever has the right to disclose your sexual orientation is YOU. Bisexual people are the least likely sexual minority to be out to the most important people in their lives, and that’s totally okay. Coming out is complicated!
Some people dismiss bisexuality by claiming all bi women are secretly straight and all bi men are secretly gay. This is a prime example of bi-erasure. But, sexuality is fluid. Who we’re attracted to, what kinds of sex we want to engage in and when and how – all of those things can and do change throughout our lives. While someone dismissing your sexuality as “just a phase” is incredibly hurtful, it’s also painful if someone dismisses your sexuality because the label you’re using has changed since you’ve met them. There’s a lot of pressure for people to know for certain if they are gay/straight/bi/pansexual. It’s normal to explore and question your own sexuality as you see fit. We figure out and identify what our sexuality is through our experiences and different relationships. It’s okay to feel like you are a certain sexual orientation for a while, but then realize maybe that isn’t quite right for you after all. Labels are meant to be used by individuals to identify themselves and help them find community. They’re not for judging, dividing or hurting other people. You have the right to call yourself whatever feels most comfortable for you.
Biphobia can be isolating, even if your partner isn’t using it against you. But if your partner is behaving abusively – like threatening to out you, claiming you’re not a “real” bisexual, accusing you of cheating or using your sexuality against you in any way – know that you deserve better. Warning signs of an abusive relationship include jealousy, trying to isolate you from your support system, yelling or talking down to you, demanding your passwords or that you check in with them all the time and any physical or sexual contact that makes you uncomfortable. This Power & Control Wheel has other examples of red flags for abuse, too.
One thing that can help combat the pain of biphobia is to learn more about bisexuality and the bisexual community in general. Plenty of people identify as bisexual, and learning how other individuals have become comfortable in their own sexuality can help all of us learn to be authentic in our own. You can find resources by and for the bi+ community here, read all kinds of books and comics by and about bisexual people here, join a thread for bisexual women dating men here, rock out to a bi-affirming playlist here and maybe even find a support group near you for bisexuals!
If you have any concerns about your relationship, you can call The Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-787-3224 TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing) or chat online from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time (chat en español esta disponible de 12 p.m. a 6 p.m. Hora Central). We’re here to help.