March is Bisexual Awareness Month so today we have a guest blog written by bisexual Person-centred Counsellor Becki Clitsome (She/Her) .
This month is a time to break down the barriers and raise awareness of bisexual issues, particularly the community’s social, economic and health disparities.
As a bisexual woman, I’ve personally felt those disparities for a variety of reasons.
Bisexual people make up the ‘majority of the LGBTQ community, but received less than 1% of all funding that supports LGBTQ advocacy, and experience significantly higher rates of physical, sexual, social and emotional violence’, as well as ‘poorer physical, mental and social health.’ (BiHealthMonth, 2021)
To give a little context to myself, I want to share some of my own words that I wrote as part of LGBTQ Awareness Month: As a teenager I knew that I was bisexual – I was attracted to both men and women. But there was no education about different sexualities, and it certainly wasn’t something I could talk about at home.
So my bisexuality was kept completely secret for years. I had seen many friends come out and be referred to as promiscuous, greedy, indecisive and deceptive.
Misconceptions and stereotypes made coming out challenging.
How would I be treated?
How would my family feel?
Would I be rejected?
The fear was exponential and so I didn’t talk about my sexuality with my family until I was 29.
This certainly compounded my own feelings leading to a decrease in self-worth and a massive impact on my own mental health. It meant exploring my sexuality was difficult, and being in heteronormative relationships both protected me and held me back.
When I did come out to loved ones, my fears were briefly realised. My engagement was brought into question because I was now sharing my sexuality, and there were confusions over the type of relationship I would be in.
These questions were well-meaning, but hurtful. For example, being questioned because I never brought a girl home (when I knew I would have been treated badly for doing so) created a sense of bi-erasure that truly impacted on me.
This didn’t mean I wasn’t bisexual, it meant that I wasn’t brave enough to come out in my teens.
Health disparities for bisexual people show the stark difficulties:
Bisexual women have higher rates of all cancers, heart disease and obesity (HRC)
Bisexual people are significantly less likely than lesbians and gay men to disclose their sexual orientation to their medical provider (HRC)
Bisexual women have double the rate of eating disorders as lesbians (HRC)
66% of bisexual people feel they have to pass as straight, 42% feel they have to pass as gay/lesbian (Equality Network)
72% of bi women, 60% of lesbians, 56% of bi men and 53% of gay men have experienced anxiety (Stonewall, 2018)
Where do I sit in all of this?
I’ve experienced depression since I was a teenager, suicidality, drunk alcohol as an escape, and experienced crippling and disabling anxiety. I am not the exception to the rule, and it makes me sad that there are thousands of people experiencing those thoughts and feelings throughout the world.
As time has gone on – and I’ve been out to my loved ones for over a year – I’m much more firm in my sexuality and my well-being has increased.
I’m no longer hiding parts of myself.
It’s for this reason that I talk so openly on my social media and website. I volunteer for an LGBTQ organisation. The more we are open about bisexuality, biphobia and bi-erasure, the more we can remove the stigma and truly create equity.
This guest blog was written by
Becki Clitsome (She/Her)
If you'd like to write a guest blog please get in touch:
Bisexual+ Health Awareness Month https://bihealthmonth.org/
Bachmann, C., & Gooch, B., (2018) ‘LGBT in Britain: Health Report’, Stonewall, London
Human Rights Campaign Foundation, ‘Health Disparities Among Bisexual People’
Rankin, S., Morton, J., & Bell, M., Complicated? Bisexual people’s experiences of and ideas for improving services, Equality Network