In 2011 the San Francisco Human Rights Commission released a study entitled: “Bisexual Invisibility:Impacts and Recommendations.”
At first glance people may scratch their head in bewilderment. “Bisexuals are not invisible; I mean LGBT rights is a hot button political issue and the media often covers stories discussing LGBT issues.” However, on closer inspection one will notice that when people often mention “LGBT rights” they are often referring to issues such as “gay marriage” or discrimination faced by Gays and Lesbians, with the myriad of issues facing Transgender people occasionally mentioned, and bisexuals completely ignored. Yet the invisibility of bisexuals, is not always malicious. It does not even cross some people’s minds to wonder what unique issues bisexuals face. Many simply assume that the issues bisexuals face are the exact same that those in the lesbian and gay community face.
The San Francisco Human Right’s Commission Report: “Despite the overwhelming data that bisexuals exist, other people’s assumptions often render bisexuals invisible. Two women holding hands are read as “lesbian,” two men as “gay,” and a man and a woman as “straight.” In reality, any of these people might be bi―perhaps all of them.” (3). The report goes on to state that the majority of research on sexuality often lumps bisexuals with gays and lesbians which results in the particular needs of bisexuals being eclipsed and ignored.
The report goes on to detail how words matter and can further discrimination against those who identify as bisexual: “Often, the word “bisexual” shows up in an organization’s name or mission statement, but the group doesn’t offer programming that addresses the specific needs of bisexuals...Even when an organization is inclusive, the press and
public officials often fall back on the “safety” of saying just “gay and lesbian.” There is even a
growing trend of talking about the “gay, lesbian, and transgender” community or “lesbian, gay, and transgender” movement.” (5).
Bisexuals are treated as non-existent entities, although the report states they are actually the largest sexual minority. Our unique experiences and points of view are ignored and conflated with those who identify as gay and lesbian. I do not disagree that there are some shared experiences, nor am I arguing that bisexuals have it better or worse than those who identify as gays and lesbians in society, I am advocating for true equality, especially among those who claim to advocate for LGBT rights. I am not transgender, so I cannot speak for a person who identifies as transgender, but I do know that the majority of media attention also silences their voice as well. For example, when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was officially repealed in 2011 many “LGBT” groups celebrated, without paying attention to the fact that those who identify as transgender continue to be barred from serving in the armed forces.
As someone who identifies as bisexual, I believe it is vitally important that bisexuals be given an equal voice. We are often portrayed in the media as being extremely promiscuous and unfaithful. We can’t be trusted, since we will just leave our current partner for someone of the opposite sex. Bisexuality is also often portrayed as a “phrase” that some people go through before accepting their identify as heterosexual or homosexual. Our hardships are often presented as negligible because we can always “choose” to pass as heterosexual and be in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex.
Those who identify as bisexual and transgendered have unique experiences and perspectives that can enrich and strengthen the fight for equality. I have not even touch upon the various other sexual identities-such as pansexual, and asexual whose voices are being completely ignored. Let those of us who are passionate for equality try to ensure that all voices are given the opportunity to be heard and let those of us who are not part of the conversation speak up and demand that we be heard