I’ve lost count of how many blank faces I’ve seen as I ask a room (or these days, a screen) of people if they’ve heard of bierasure.
Today is Bi Visibility Day. Every year on the 23rd September people wave their blue, purple and pink flags and scream out to be noticed.
Bisexual people make up around 50% of the LGBTQ community, but many bi people are often still invisible.
Bisexuals also experience higher rates of mental health issues than gay and lesbian people, yet very often receive way less funding in services.
What is Bierasure?
So what is bierasure? It’s basically the erasure of bisexual people. Many people talk about it being the silent B in LGBT.
You see, for some strange reason bi people face so much stigma and discrimination. They are not believed, thought of as greedy, fashionable or not able to make up their mind.
As a gay person nobody ever says these things to me but I am all too aware of how often these insults are thrown at my bi friends and also my clients who are bi.
Many counsellors come on my training workshops thinking it’s just trans people they need to learn about. They have some gay friends, so think that equals knowing about bi people too. In a presentation at the 2016 Pink Therapy Conference Meg-John Barker poignantly said:
'... people often think that either bi is a tiny minority of people so do they really need to know about it or they think because they already know enough about straight people and gay people they can add that together and that equals knowledge on bi people ...”'(Meg-John Barker, 2016)
Can married people still be bisexual?
I was having coffee with a friend who is a fellow counsellor a year or so ago and I remember her saying to me that she doesn’t assume her clients are straight, she knows they are straight as it becomes very clear when they start talking about their boyfriends/husbands, etc.
This got me thinking, and this is a point that I need you to listen to.
Sexuality is not defined by the gender of your current partner. Bisexual people can and do live happily married and are still bisexual. The website Still Bisexual has some great videos from bi people to help get this message out.
What does bisexual mean?
Another thing that winds me up is how many other trainers and websites I have seen incorrectly define the word bisexual. Bisexual does not mean attraction to 2 genders (men and women). This is a very old definition and sadly perpetuates the incorrect idea that there are only 2 genders.
Instead most bisexual people these days would agree that bisexuality means attraction to more that one gender. Their own gender and another 1 or 2 or more genders...
Are all bisexual people non-monogamous?
Bisexual people are not necessarily non-monogamous. Just because they are attracted to more than one gender it doesn’t mean they have more than one partner at once. Although like many straight, gay and queer people, bisexuals can also be non-monogamous.
Want to learn more?
Sadly, so many counsellors find this all too confusing and are worried that they don’t know enough to work with gender and sexual diversity in the counselling room.
Because I’m so passionate about wanting this to change, I help fellow counsellors build their confidence by offering short basic awareness workshops online.
If you’re a counsellor and would like to learn more, I run online workshops on LGBTQ topics for counsellors
Please share this blog on your social media and help get rid of bierasure and increase visibility of bi people.