Author: thanksforstoppingbi

The Next Four Years

1471023163410.cached.jpg

 

Thanks to the recent election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, minority groups all over the United States are now fearful of what might happen to them over the next four years. Unfortunately, the LGBT community is definitely one of those groups. Will Donald Trump’s homophobia and harsh language about the community normalize the mistreatment of LGBT people? Does Trump have enough influence to overturn marriage equality? (Probably not, but it’s scary that we even have to think that way.) We’ve made great strides in recent years, and there is a rational fear that having a president like Trump could cause the country to take a few steps back in the way of human rights.

The Human Rights campaign put out an article just after the election giving answers to some other worries that people in the community expressed about the Trump Administration, which you can read here. People are being forced to ask questions such as whether or not their health care will be affected, whether there will still be protection against discrimination for those in the community, especially transgender people, whether trump will reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and other things that shouldn’t even be a concern at this point (hrc.org).

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is not the only person that we have to fear in the next four years. The media has been closely following the present-elect as he appoints cabinet members and the people he’s choosing are just as bad (if not worse) than Trump himself. To start, there’s Mike Pence, who believes in conversion therapy for LGBT people. If Trump is impeached, that will be our new president. Or how about White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, who “oversaw the most anti-LGBT platform in history” (towleroad.com)? The Human Rights Campaign has another article here which lists a few more scary names that could potentially be part of the Trump Administration, including Ken Blackwell, “a Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council (FRC),” “which has been designated a hate group” (hrc.org).

No one really knows exactly what to expect in the next four years, but we do know that it isn’t going to be easy and we are all going to need to be very supportive of each other. Some organizations designed to help and support the LGBT community are The Human Rights Campaign, the Trevor Project, and GLAAD (described in more detail in this blog post). If you don’t already know a lot about the issues that people in the community are facing, take a moment to look at each of their websites and learn. If you can, donate. We’re already going to need to be there for each other through the Trump Administration and in its aftermath, and these organizations can help.

References

http://www.hrc.org/blog/reports-of-anti-lgbtq-extremists-tapped-for-major-roles-on-president-elect

http://www.hrc.org/blog/what-a-trump-administration-could-mean-for-lgbtq-rights

https://whatistherealgayagenda.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/programs-and-organizations-for-the-lgbtq-community/

Trump Names Reince Priebus, RNC Chair Who Oversaw Most Anti-LGBT Platform in History, as WH Chief of Staff

Advertisements

Bisexual Role Models

o-BISEXUAL-facebook-2.jpg

We know a little bit about how bisexuality is represented in movies and TV (not well), but what about in reality? Who do we know that might be a role model for bisexual youth to look up to when coming out?

Well, to be honest, not many people came to mind when I asked myself this question; Angelina Jolie was the only person I immediately thought of. Of course there are many more, but I had to sit and think and eventually even do some Googling before I was able to come up with a good list. Maybe that says something about me and my apparent lack of knowledge about bisexual celebrities, or maybe it says something about bisexuality itself and the stigma that surrounds it.

Here are a few people you may not have known are/were bisexual: Walt Whitman, James Dean, Janis Joplin, Fergie, Drew Barrymore, David Bowie, and Marilyn Monroe (bisexual.org).

It might be worth noting that that a Google image search of “bisexual role models” brings up mostly pictures of Ellen Page. And while Ellen Page has done wonderful things for the LGBT community and is certainly a role model for many young women, she is a lesbian, not bisexual. To me, this situation – the first result of a search about bisxual people bringing up a gay woman – is a distinct form of bi-erasure. These results erase the people that do identify as bisexual, replacing them with a person of a sexuality that is more commonly accepted, or as some people would describe it, “actually real.”

Today there are a few celebrities, mostly women, who are doing a good job of standing up for bisexuality and trying to normalize it as much as possible. Anglina Jolie is one of them, along with Kristen Stewart, Aubrey Plaza, Kesha, and Anna Paquin, who has a good quote about bisexuality: “For me, it’s not really an issue because I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. It’s not made up. It’s not a lack of decision.”

Why is it important to have bisexual role models? Well, we kind of live in a society that worships celebrities. And while I don’t think that’s ideal, it does mean that their actions have the potential to influence day-to-day life. Young people struggling with their sexualities need to have someone to look up to in order to feel validated, especially if they can’t get that from their own friends or family. Hopefully, more bisexual role models will help destigmatize and normalize bisexuality, and bisexual people will be at the top of their own Google image search.

~ Bustle has a good article about bisexual people in Hollywood – if you want to read it click here! ~

References

Famous Bi People

 

Bisexual Youth

howtocomeout.jpg

 

Being bisexual can be particularly difficult for young people. Many teenagers are already in vulnerable positions and having people deny that their sexuality is even legitimate can cause even more harm. Bisexual youth also often feel unsupported by adults in their lives, many of whom believe many or all of the myths and lies surrounding bisexuality.

In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a report about bisexual youth (which you can read about here). Essentially, they found that many people are hugely uneducated about bisexuality, which can lead to limited support for young people who identify as bisexual. According to their report, of the bisexual youth that they surveyed, “only five percent reported being ‘very happy,'” and “nearly a third of bisexual young people said they had been ‘frequently or often’ harassed or called names at school” (hrc.org). Although these types of statistics are (unfortunately) somewhat common for LGBT youth, the numbers tend to be even more dramatic for bisexuals because they often lack support within the community as well as outside of it.

Homelessness is a huge issue for all LGBT youth. Unfortunately, though, more LGB homeless youth identifies as bisexual than any other sexuality. Young bisexual people are also more susceptible to “risk behaviors” (such as overuse of drugs and alcohol), and suicide than other young people (attheintersections.org). A study by the University of Illinois found that 44% of bisexual youth surveyed “reported thinking about suicide during the prior 30 days,” and “more than 21%” reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt “during the prior year” (news.illinois.edu).

Being bisexual is a struggle for most bi people, but young people have a particularly difficult time. They have limited access to resources or programs that could be helpful to them and are often unsupported by the people they need to lean on most, like friends and family. And clearly, the statistics about at-risk bisexual youth are staggering. Spread the word – bisexual youth need to be appreciated and cared for! 

References

http://www.hrc.org/blog/supporting-and-caring-for-our-bisexual-youth

Bisexual Youth

https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/205215

 

Some Statistics

For this post, I thought I’d give my input on some statistics about bisexuality that you may not know about!

bisexual-pride-heart-tank-womens-premium-tank-top.jpg

“Up to 40% of the LGBTQ community identifies itself as bisexual” (healthresearchfunding.org)

This statistic is interesting because the bisexual population seems much smaller than it actually is, possibly because bisexuality is often hard to define. Not everyone who identifies as bisexual necessarily fits the exact same definition.

“In a 2009 survey, bisexuals were tolerated only slightly more than intravenous drug users in a survey of self-identifying heterosexuals.” (healthresearchfunding.org)

I feel that if this survey were given today, the results would probably be different; fortunately, bisexuality seems to be more acceptable now than ever. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that these survey results are pretty upsetting!

“Women are more likely to be bisexual than men.” (advocate.com)

This statistic comes from an interesting study (which you can read about here) that followed the sexual activity of about 10,000 young people. They came up with a lot of interesting conclusions, one of which is that there are generally more bisexual women than men. For some reason, I’m not really shocked by this statistic. Maybe the reason for this is that men feel less comfortable coming out as bisexual than women because somehow, there is more of a stigma around it for them.

Only 28% of bisexuals say all or most of the important people in their life know they are bisexual. By comparison, 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians say the important people in their life know about their sexual orientation.” (pewresearch.org)

This statistic was very surprising to me at first. Personally, my sexual orientation is an important part of my identity, but for some bisexual people, it may not be. If they identify as “more” heterosexual than homosexual, they may not feel the need to share that part of themselves with friends or family. Or, they may just be so afraid of the stigma around their sexuality that they are unwilling to come out.

These are just a few of many, many fascinating statistics about bisexuality. Below is a video with some more information that you might like to watch!

 

 

 

 

 

The Spectrum of Sexual Orientation

In a previous post, History of Bisexuality, I mentioned and quickly described the Kinsey Scale. Right now, I’d like to go into a little more about its history and what it really means.

The Kinsey Scale, originally called “the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale,” was primarily developed by Dr. Alfred Kinsey (kinseyinstute.org). It was based on the idea that every person did not fit exactly into either a “gay” or “straight” category, which he discovered after interviewing over 18,000 people about their sexual/romantic experiences. Kinsey was really the first to introduce the label “bisexual.”

The Kinsey Scale has 7 “categories” for a person to fall into: (0) exclusively heterosexual, (1) incidental homosexual behavior, (2) more than incidental homosexual behavior, (3) equal amount of heterosexual and homosexual behavior, (4) more than incidental heterosexual behavior, (5) incidental heterosexual behavior, (6) exclusively homosexual behavior. To rate themselves on the scale, a person will evaluate their past romantic experiences and choose which category fits them best. It is important to remember that a person’s rating on the Kinsey Scale is totally subject to change over their lifetime; sexuality is fluid. Below is a picture of the Kinsey Scale from personalitycafe.com.

kinsey_scale2_001.jpg

One important point to make about the Kinsey Scale, however, is that it is not perfect. Many people will argue that the scale implies that you can only be bisexual if you are equally attracted to men and women. Otherwise, any encounters you’ve had with the same sex are “incidental.” In reality, a person can still be bisexual if they are more attracted to one gender than the other. Fortunately, people have come up with new methods of self-identification that better represent the complexity of bisexuality or other sexualities such as asexuality. One example is The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, which you can click here to learn more about.

Although the Kinsey Scale is really something that a person would use to determine their sexuality on their own, there are online tests that will ask questions to give you an idea of where you might fall. BuzzFeed’s version of the quiz is pretty good – click here to link to it.   Overall, there really is no way to be wrong about your sexuality; however you identify is what you are, and don’t be afraid if that changes over time!

 

References:

https://www.kinseyinstitute.org/research/publications/kinsey-scale.php

https://www.bustle.com/articles/102208-whats-the-kinsey-scale-6-things-to-know-about-this-groundbreaking-sexuality-continuum

The Kinsey Scale: Straight, Gay, and Everything in Between!

 

 

Any Questions?

In this post, I’d like to give some of my own answers to questions that bisexual people are commonly asked!

Are you really a lesbian/gay and don’t want to come out?

For the most part, no! When people ask this question it just perpetuates the myth that bisexuality isn’t real, and that people who identify as bisexual are just “exploring their sexuality” or “going through a phase.” Bisexual people really are attracted to both men and women, and it isn’t anybody else’s job to tell them that they aren’t. Of course, there are some people who may identify as bisexual for a time before coming out as gay, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should be put into that category.

Do you prefer men or women?

The answer to this will vary depending on who you ask. Many people don’t have a stronger attraction to one gender over the other, while some do. Others actually dislike being asked this question because they’re just attracted to whoever they’re attracted to; it doesn’t need to be so black and white.

Don’t you feel greedy or selfish?

No, and we shouldn’t be made to feel that way either. And that’s kind of the end of the answer to that question.

What’s the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality?

This question is really important because bisexuality and pansexuality are often lumped together as one thing, which can contribute to the erasure of both of them. The main difference, to me, is that bisexual people are attracted to two genders: male and female. Pansexual people don’t limit themselves to male and female, and instead, date whoever they are attracted to regardless of gender. The two sexualities do have many similarities, but it is important to mark the differences and accept a person however they identify.

Are you eventually going to choose between gay or straight?

Nope. Even if I end up married or in a long-term relationship, that doesn’t mean I’ve “committed” to being heterosexual if that person is the opposite sex, or that I’ve “decided to be gay” if that person is my same sex. A person will continue to identify as bisexual as long as they are still attracted to both genders.

Aren’t you more likely to cheat in a relationship?

The myth that bisexual people are more promiscuous or more likely to cheat on you seems a little outrageous; we really are just like everybody else, and not any more likely to cheat than anyone of any other sexuality. Bisexual ≠ cheater!

Are people in the LGBT community mean or dismissive of you?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is frequently “yes.” You would think that people in the community would be more likely to be accepting of bisexual people, but that isn’t always the case. Many LGBT people are guilty of making the same accusations and generalizations about bi people that some straight people do because they think we’re “undecided,” so we’re not a real part of the community.

If you’re bisexual and you’re asked one of these questions or another one like it, it’s important to remember that for the most part, people aren’t being intentionally rude or insulting. They’re probably just really uneducated about your sexuality, like most of the population. That’s why answering these kinds of questions is so important – we need to get rid of the stigma surrounding us!

BuzzFeed has a lot of great videos about bisexuality – here are a few for you to explore more!

LGBT Pride Symbols

If you’re a person walking the earth in 2016, I’m sure you’ve laid eyes on at least one symbol of LGBT pride, most likely the rainbow flag. There are, however, a huge amount of different flags and symbols representing different identifications in the LGBT community, so my goal here is to provide some information and hopefully spread some awareness about the different images you might come across.

Flags

gay-rainbow-flag-image-gallery.jpgThe rainbow flag is probably the most well-known and easily recognizable of the LGBT symbols. It’s so important because it represents the LGBT community as a whole, acting as a symbol of pride, hope, and diversity. According to stop-homophobia.com, it was created in 1978 by artist Gilbert Baker, who dyed, cut, and sewed the first flag himself.

qq-rbai.gif

 

Pictured here is the Victory Against AIDS Flag. Similar to the rainbow flag, it adds a seventh black stripe to represent those members of the community lost to AIDS.

 

2000px-Bi_flag.svg.png

This is the bisexuality flag. Side note: In case you’re not sure what exactly it means to be bisexual, please read my other post about understanding bisexuality. The top 40% of the flag (the pink part) represents same-sex attraction, while the bottom 40% (the blue) symbolizes heterosexual attraction, and the middle part, of course, represents attraction to both.

Trans_Pride_Flag.png

The trans flag is a symbol of pride for transgender people. According to point5cc.com, the colors were chosen specifically because light blue is often used to represent baby boys, light pink is traditionally used for baby girls, and the white stripe in the middle represents those who fall outside of the gender binary or who are intersex.

 

Of course, there are many more flags representing various genders and sexualities, such as intersex, pansexual, genderfluid, etc. Clare Bayley’s website gives has a great summary of all the different pride flags, which you can find here.

Symbols

One LGBT symbol you may be familiar with is the inverted triangle. The three main versions of this are the pink triangle, representing homosexual men; t270px-pink_triangle-svghe black triangle, representing homosexual women; and the bisexual triangles, which is a pink and a blue triangle overlapping, similar to the bisexual flag. These symbols originated in Nazi Germany, where gay men were labeled with pink triangles and lesbian women were often labeled with black triangles. Today, the inverted triangle has been reclaimed as a symbol of pride rather than one of shame.

Trans2.png

Other common representations of the LGBT community are the gender symbols. These take the traditional male and female symbols and either link them together to represent sexualities or put them together to represent gender, like the transgender symbol shown to the left.

 

There are many, many other symbols that you may have seen. For c87ff4386320d33e554f817c3e5ef8a6.jpgexample, the lambda is often used as a symbol of homosexuality. The yellow equal sign on a blue background is the symbol of the Human Rights Campaign, which is one of the most important organizations that supports the community. Bisexual people are often represented by two pink, blue and purple moons facing opposite directions. Hopefully, this post has provided some insight into what kind of symbols are used by the LGBT community!

References:

http://www.algbtical.org/2A%20SYMBOLS.htm

http://www.qrd.org/qrd/www/orgs/avproject/symbols.htm

A field guide to Pride flags

http://www.stop-homophobia.com/rainbow-flag-history

Google Images

 

Bisexuality in Movies and TV

In general, we see few bisexual characters represented on television, in movies, in music, and in other forms of media. And although your first thought may be that any bisexual representation is good representation, that isn’t necessarily true. In many cases, the way that bisexual people are portrayed actually perpetuates some of the really harmful stereotypes about bisexuality that I discussed in an earlier post. For example, that bisexual women Often unknowingly, the media also can perpetuate bi-erasure, defined by GLAAD as “a pervasive problem in which the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality (either in general or in regard to an individual) is questioned or denied outright.” Often, bi-erasure especially affects bisexual men, as they are represented even less than bisexual women. In this post, I’d like to look a little bit closer at a few of the more well-known TV shows, movies, and songs that portray bisexual characters.

TV Shows

If you’re a fan of Netflix originals, one of the first shows that may have come to mind here is Orange is the New Black. This show’s main character, Piper Chapman, has romantic relationships with both men and women and is considered bisexual. However, she refuses to “admit” to being bisexual, and is continuously represented as promiscuous and a cheater which are some of the most prominent and harmful stereotypes that bisexual people try to avoid.

Male bi characters are generally less common than bi women, but there are a few shows currently representing them, such as Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and my personal favorite, Doctor Who. Doctor Who and Torchwood‘s Captain Jack Harkness is a bisexual, or possibly pansexual, character who characteristically flirts with everybody and everything. For a long time I considered him a good representation of the bisexual community, until I realized that his promiscuity is actually his defining characteristic, perpetuating that same stereotype that we are constantly trying to get away from. In addition, a quick Google image search of “Captain Jack Harkness” brought up dozens of photos that labeled him as gay, not bisexual or even pansexual. The bi-erasure was strong within this Google search.

Movies

Although there aren’t a ton, many of the movies that feature bisexual characters are guilty of perpetuating bi-erasure and the same stereotypes as TV shows. Some of the more popular of these movies are Brokeback Mountain, Dodgeball, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Brokeback Mountain in particular is guilty of prolonging the stereotype that there is no real sexual fluidity; that person is strictly labeled “gay” once they’ve had any sort of homosexual relationship, or is labeled “straight” if they happen to be with a person of the opposite sex. In fact, sexuality is far from that black and white.

Whether or not they realize they are doing it, directors of movies and TV shows are constantly encouraging damaging stereotypes and bi-erasure. And unfortunately, most people who watch these things will believe what they are told about bisexuality through these mediums because in general, they’re just not well-educated enough about it. So I’m asking you, the next time you see bisexuality inaccurately represented on TV, try to educate the people around you: we are real, we are here, and we’re just like you.

ns1ep9j

Captain Jack Harkness

 

References:

 

History of Bisexuality

Contrary to what many may believe, bisexuality is not a recent or modern concept. Although they may not have been officially given a name until the 1800s, bisexual people have existed since the time of ancient civilizations. Here is a quick summary of the history of bisexuality:

Ancient Civilizations 

In ancient Greece, Rome, and Japan, having multiple relationships at once with people of different genders was actually very common. In fact, in many cases it was expected. In ancient Greece, there was no real distinction between heterosexual and homosexual men; they were expected to be in relationships with both other men and women. Similarly, in Rome, both men and women were seen as objects of desire for men. In Japan, older men were expected to have relationships with younger men, especially in the military. In Japan during this time, there were even considered to be three genders: women, men, and attractive young men. Because of the status of women during these time periods, they were not really mentioned as being bisexual; most likely they were required to just have a husband.

Native Americans and the Two Spirits

Native Americans have long since believed in what is known today as the “two-spirited person.” Two-spirited people carry the spirits of both men and women, taking on both gender roles, and are considered gifted and sacred. Two spirit people are most often associated with gender identity, as they are considered to be a separate gender by many Native American tribes. However, these people can be in relationships with both men and women, so the point can be made that they are bisexual.

The 19th Century Western World

As the western world developed into the society we know today, homosexuality in any form became an offense punishable by death. In 1892, Charles Gilbert Chaddock, an American neurologist, translated a book called Psychopathia Sexualis. From this, he coined the term “bisexual,” although that’s not to say he accepted it as a concept. Homosexuality and bisexuality would continue to be condemned up until very recent history.

The Kinsey Scale

In 1948, behavioral scientist Alfred Kinsey released tons of research on male and female sexuality. One of the most important things released was the Kinsey Scale. The Kinsey Scale allowed people to rate their sexual orientation from 0 – 6, with 0 being completely heterosexual and 6 being completely homosexual. This was groundbreaking because it was uncovered by Kinsey’s research that bisexuality was actually the norm; fewer people than expected rated as a 0 or a 6 on the scale. Kinsey also made it clear that sexual orientation is not static; it is fluid, so a person’s score on the Kinsey scale may change throughout their lifetime. Now bisexuality truly had a definition, although it still would not actually be accepted by society for a long time.

Recent History

Up until the 1970’s, homosexuality and bisexuality were actually considered mental disorders. Doctors would try to stop people from being attracted to the same sex through medication, hypnosis, electric shock therapy, or other equally outrageous methods. Eventually, however, it became almost popular to be bisexual. Gay men began using bisexuality as a way to come out, which probably contributed to the myth that bisexuality is actually just a “pit stop” on the way to coming out as gay. In the 1990’s and 2000’s, celebrities began coming out as bisexual and it became more and more acceptable to be a part of the LGBT+ community.

Although we are in a much better place with bisexuality today than we were 60 years ago, bisexuals still face tons of discrimination inside the LGBT+ community and in heteronormative communities. We are on the road to destigmatizing our sexuality and becoming an acceptable part of all communities.

tumblr_inline_nvuwm8zGqh1s0q1be_1280.png

Where do you land on the Kinsey Scale?

References:

http://kinseyconfidential.org/kinsey-scale-purpose-significance/

http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/twospirit.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/bisexuality-studies-history-_n_5876976.html

http://www.bustle.com/articles/40282-a-brief-history-of-bisexuality-from-ancient-greece-and-the-kinsey-scale-to-lindsay-lohan

Understanding Bisexuality

What does it mean to be bisexual? In general today, bisexuality is defined as attraction to people of one’s own gender and one or more other genders. However, this definition may change depending on who you ask; some may say that bisexuality is the attraction to only males and females, but no other gender, so it is important to understand that bisexuality is not entirely black and white.

Fortunately, people of many different sexualities and genders are able to find support within the LGBTQ+ community. However, bisexual people are often unable to find this support, facing the same amount of rejection inside and outside of the community. This is due to the many myths surrounding bisexuality, which can be extremely hurtful and damaging. Here are a few common myths that need to be debunked in order to promote its acceptance:

“Bisexuality is just a phase.”

Often times people say that bisexuality is “just a phase,” that someone will “grow out of it,” or is “just experimenting” or “confused.” Although it is true that some people identify as bisexual at one point and another sexuality later on, the majority of bisexual people will continuously identify as such, and it is not up to anyone else besides them to make that call.

“A person cannot be bisexual unless they have been with people of more than one gender.”

A person’s sexuality is not defined by past romantic experiences. In fact, many people are aware of their sexuality before they have any experiences at all. You wouldn’t tell a straight person that they can’t be straight until they’ve been with someone of the opposite gender, so why say that to a bisexual person?

“Bisexual people have to be equally attracted to both genders.”

This myth runs along the same lines as the claim that bisexuals are “half gay, half straight.” In fact, any bisexual person may experience different levels, or types, of attraction to any gender. What’s more, the type and amount of attraction to a certain gender that a bisexual person experiences may change throughout their lifetime.

These myths about bisexuality are just a few of the most common ones; there are many, many more that need to be discredited. However, hopefully they were able to eliminate some confusion about what bisexuality really is and why it is so important that we start clearing up the stigma around it.

Here are a few more fast facts about the bisexual population:

23fd2fa96eafe148104a814c9aef5f2c.jpg

 

References:

http://www.oneequalworld.com

https://www.glaad.org/blog/celebrate-bisexuality-glaad-dispels-common-myths-and-stereotypes

http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/identity/bisexuality