This past August, Huffington Post invited its readers to post photos of themselves using the hashtag #WhatBiLooksLike. Soon, more tags followed, including #WhatTransLooksLike and #WhatGenderqueerLooksLike, and the various campaigns are still gaining popularity on social media today.
Queer people may be gaining more mainstream visibility these days, but certain subsections of the queer community tend to be more absent than others. This campaign began in an effort to rectify the absence of those subsections in the media.
In a news segment called “Why We Need #WhatBiLooksLike,” Huffington Post spoke to two bisexual advocates about the importance of the #WhatBiLooksLike campaign.
“It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to joyfully celebrate our identities with the ‘This Is What Bi Looks Like,’” said Robyn Ochs, of The Bi Women Quarterly and Recognize.
Robyn later went on to say that bisexual-identified people, along with trans-identified people, experience the highest level of minority stress of all people in the queer community. For bisexual folks, Robyn said this stress is amplified when other queer people tell them that their issues aren’t valid.
Both heterosexuals and homosexuals often disregard bisexual people because they don’t fall neatly into either of these two groups.
Eliel Cruz, a bisexual journalist at The Advocate, says that there’s a “huge lack of representation of bisexual men” specifically. Half of the queer community is bisexual though, he said, with two-thirds of queer women identifying as bisexual, and one-third of men identifying as bi.
It seems silly, then, for so many stigmas to surround such a popular identity. I am a cisgender woman who identifies with the label “queer,” which to me means that I can be attracted to people of all genders. I have personally experienced discrimination from both heterosexuals and homosexuals.
For example, once a lesbian said she didn’t want to date me because I “might not turn out to be this way.” In other words, she thought I would leave her for a man. This idea that bisexual women are merely experimenting or “have not made up their minds yet” is a common misconception that often prevents lesbians from dating bisexual women.
Another common misconception about people who are attracted to multiple genders, such as bisexuals, pansexuals, etc., is that they cannot be monogamous. In fact, any person of any sexual orientation or gender identity may prefer monogamous relationships, or may be polyamorous. The only way to really know if a potential partner wants to be exclusively is to ask them, and to trust that their answer is the truth.
The misconception that I find most offensive, though, is that bisexuals can choose the “easy way out” and decide to be with a person of the opposite sex and live as heterosexual. This is not true because I believe people cannot choose who they fall in love with. When I met my partner, I didn’t walk into our first date with the idea that I would fall in love with them. But I did fall in love, and I couldn’t imagine just being able to turn that feeling off and move on to someone else instead because it might seem like an easier option.
The best way to combat discrimination within and outside of the queer community is to encourage visibility. When queer people are visibly living happy, successful lives, they wind up opening people’s eyes to the normality of the diversity surrounding them. Since the mainstream media is not yet completely representative of the entire queer community, Huffington Post’s hashtags for Bi, Genderqueer, Butch, Femme, Trans, Bear and Twink identities are doing a great job of showing the diversity in our community. I highly recommend scrolling through the hashtags on Twitter and taking a look at all the beautiful photos of people proudly representing their identities.