[TW: Bisexual Erasure, Biphobia, Suicide]
In the aftermath of Kim Davis, there’s a new meme spreading around social media highlighting people who did their jobs regardless of their personal beliefs. Examples include Agent Scully, Ron Swanson, and Winston from “Ghostbusters.” Unfortunately, this meme isn’t without its problem. Specifically, there is a picture of Freddie Mercury that says, “Didn’t actually like fat-bottom girls. Still did his job.”
Actually, Mercury did like fat-bottom girls. In fact, he wrote the Queen song “Love of My Life” about Mary Austin, his lover of seven years.
Contrary to popular belief, Mercury was, according to his obituary, ” a self-confessed bi-sexual [sic]” who had both male and female lovers. Not a lot of people realize this, though, and it’s because to this day, people don’t think bisexuality is real.
When it comes to sexuality, people have a very dichotomous view: you like either boys or girls, and that’s it. Although, as bisexual activist Shiri Eisner wrote, monosexism is a heterosexual construction, there is, unfortunately, a lot of biphobia within the LGBTQ community. Dan Savage is infamous for saying that, whenever he meets a young self-identified bisexual, he replies, “I was, too, when I was your age.” Kurt from “Glee” once said, “Bisexual is a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change.” Arielle Scarella once did a video documenting lesbians saying how “gross” bisexuality is (although, to be fair, she followed up that video by documenting bisexual women reacting to biphobia). Despite it’s inclusive-sounding acronym, far too often the B and T are ignored in the LGBTQ community.
This is why we need Bisexuality Awareness Week. Not only is bisexual erasure annoying, but it can be fatal. According to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s report on bisexual invisibility, in 2008, no grants in the United States geared towards LGBTQ activism specifically addressed bisexuality. The report also shows that bisexuals have a higher risk of suicide and poorer mental health than the general population. The report suggests there is a correlation between the lack of bisexual visibility and poor mental health among bisexuals.
When I was teenager and discovering my bisexuality, I didn’t have many bisexual heroes. Sure, there was David Bowie, but even he was portrayed in the media as being essentially a straight man who experimented in the ’70s. There were hardly any resources that validated falling in love with anyone of any gender. The general idea was you can “fool around” when you’re young, but eventually you “pick a side” once you get married. This resulted in nearly ten agonizing years trying to follow a heteronormative script that just wasn’t me.
With the high risk of suicide among bisexuals, we need to stop bisexual erasure. We need to celebrate fluid sexuality as a legitimate orientation. We need to address bi-specific issues in LGBTQ activism. And for fuck’s sake, we need to stop erasing bisexual people’s identities.