I generally don’t like to make a big deal around token gestures. It’s one thing to talk about things and another to actually do something. But this does seem like an important step.
For the first time in history, a representative from the White House will be holding a roundtable discussion on bisexual issues, specifically how bisexuals are affected by public health problems, partner violence, and several other subjects that are usually discussed in the context of monosexuality. It will be hosted by White House LGBT liaison Gautam Raghavan on September 23.
I’ll admit, I have my reservations. I don’t, for example, understand why this should be held behind closed doors. While the vast majority of similar discussions are, the vast majority of them are not announced to the public, either. It seems a little “Don’t allow your thoughts to linger on the dog park” for my tastes. And I would like to know who else besides HRC is actually participating, since they are a bit limited in their scope and tend to focus their attention on issues that primarily affect the upper middle class white segment of the queer population (also, usually gay males, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they would be discussing bi issues here).
That being said, people honestly don’t realize how much different it is to come to the queer community as bi. This article makes mention of the 2011 report from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. “According to their research, bisexuals were statistically more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, hypertension, complications from smoking, alcoholism and other mood or anxiety disorders, and poor health in general.” This is not particularly surprising, considering that many of these symptoms are the result of a lack of a community and support structure, much the same way that atheists point out that studies showing that regular church goers are generally happier and more well adjusted don’t control for secular gatherings and communities.
If I were there, I would point out that while the gay (and oddly, lesbian, though they very rarely actually spread the disease) community is often blamed for HIV/AIDS, being bisexual means that you get the added benefit of being blamed for the jump from the gay community to straight people. I would describe how at my first Pride parade, I was harassed because I wasn’t queer enough to be making an It Gets Better video, and how common this sort of thing is. I would discuss the extra precautions bisexuals need to take for safe sex, why communication is so much more important when you are with partners of different sexes, and how perceptions of bisexuality can affect rape and abuse reporting.
But, of course, I’m not invited. So I hope that the players involved actually address these issues. And if you hope so, too, contact the only confirmed attending group at the moment, HRC, and let them know the issues that you care about being covered. I have already written to let them know that I am concerned about the stuff mentioned above, not to mention how bisexuals of color and non-theist bisexuals can find community and support, especially considering the often dual stigma they face. There are many other issues that I missed in my note, but that’s why I encourage you to contact them as well and give them a framework for discussion.