Pride Month is finally back around, and I don’t plan on shutting up about it!
Hello and happy Pride Month to all of our readers! Pride Month is such a fun time of year, and it truly is a magnificent way to start off our summer; with vaccines rolling out and the sun heating up Ontario, Pride month is a great symbol for the hope and togetherness that the summer and the rest of this year should bring. Even though Pride parades and parties are mostly a no-go this summer, I’ve already seen so many wonderful expressions of gender and sexuality that warm my heart, and I look forward to seeing many, many more.
As a bisexual woman in a heterosexual relationship, pride month often makes me consider my own identity and how I project onto the world. I am acutely aware that I, as a white, cis-gender woman in a heterosexual relationship, hold a great amount of privilege and security in my sexuality and its presentation. I am also aware that privilege doesn’t make your personal problems—especially problems that pertain to misogyny and homophobia—any less significant. These two factors make the bi-erasure conversation a bit tricky to have.
Essentially, in recent history, the LGBTQIA2S+ community has had an issue with delegitimizing the experiences of bisexual people; labeling bisexuals as “confused” or “attention seeking” and distancing them from the community that they’re inherently a part of. We see a lot of this kind of erasure in media, mostly television and movies, and it’s ultimately damaging for the people who are having their personal identity questioned and analyzed.
Below are some of the myths about bisexuals that are often upheld by misogynist and homophobic ideals. These ideas need to be put to bed for good and not spoken about in a genuine context ever again, as they erase the bisexual experience and create a hostile environment for Pride.
The sexualization of Bisexual Women and the Hatred of Bisexual Men
Primarily, the bisexual woman has been made to be an object of sexualization by the male gaze, while gay and bisexual men remain punching bags. Myself and my other friends who are bisexual women have often encountered men who hold contempt and disgust toward gay and bisexual men, but find gay and bisexual women to be the ultimate fantasy, because they’ve been conditioned to see a woman’s sexuality as designed for male pleasure, as opposed to an autonomous system that is independent from the male gaze.
Lesbian and feminine-bisexual porn is extremely popular among men, as is voyeurism. This is not a coincidence, as it’s an age-old trope that “girl-on-girl-action” is something that men should aspire to watch and be a part of; by multiplying the number of women they’re somehow furthering their own masculinity. We don’t see this kind of excitement towards gay and masculine-bisexual porn videos from men because many men feel as though homosexuality diminishes their own masculinity, even if they’re not taking part, even if a woman is a part of the sex as well.
The hyper-sexualization of bisexual women and the simultaneous hatred of bisexual men diminishes bisexual people to how they can benefit the male gaze and others’ personal sexuality, blatantly objectifying bisexual people and contributing to bi-erasure.
Bisexual Men are Gay Men in Disguise
Often, when men come out as bisexual it’s taken with a grain of salt. There’s a myth that surrounds bisexual men that suggests they are gay men who are confused or gay men who aren’t ready to come out fully as gay. Although the labels we use to describe our sexuality can change as we learn more about who we are and allow ourselves to experience—sometimes someone may identify as bisexual at first, and come to realize they’re gay later on—this is a completely natural part of personal expression and does not mean the person was ever lying or confused.
A good example of bisexual erasure in men is the life of Freddie Mercury, who had said himself that he is a bisexual man but lives in history as a famous gay man. Often, bisexuality in men is seen as a safety shield from true homosexuality or a stepping stone to get to the gay identity, and while I’m sure there are incidents where this does happen because everyone’s coming-out story is different, and it can be a difficult thing to do, that does not give anyone the right to speculate about someone else’s sexuality, nor does it mean that bisexuality isn’t real or shouldn’t be respected.
Every individual holds their own sexuality and gender expression closely and knows themselves well enough to put a label onto it. It’s our job to support that person however they identify, to listen to their feelings, and legitimize them with our words and actions. By suggesting that they’re confused, lying, or that you know them better than they know themselves is arrogance at its finest, and definitely a part of bi-erasure.
Bisexual Women are Straight Women Seeking Attention
While bisexual men are often pigeonholed as “secretly gay”, bisexual women are pigeonholed as “secretly straight”. I believe that this ties into women’s sexuality as an object of the male gaze. As a culture, we often don’t see women’s sexuality as autonomous and independent, we view it as an attachment of male fantasy and desire; this makes identifying as bisexual as a woman even trickier because bisexual women are at times met with skepticism.
A bisexual woman may have her intentions questioned…is she doing these for male attention/validation? Is she trying to squeeze herself into a community that she doesn’t belong in for attention? Does she actually like women or does she just want to be unique? Isn’t it convenient that she’s in a relationship with a man? While we see the opposite questions directed towards bi men, bi women are almost challenged to prove their own sexuality or risk being labeled a faker or an attention seeker.
Just as questioning a bisexual man, questioning a bisexual woman is absolutely unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to suggest that you know better about her sexuality than she does, and it contributes to bi-erasure and hatred, not to mention misogyny.
Basically, bisexual people exist and there are plenty of them, it’s possible to be attracted to any and all genders and you questioning a bisexual woman or man about their own sexuality—which is really only their business—is really just you showing your ass. Devaluing bisexual people by questioning their identity, suggesting they’re confused, or showing skepticism causes you to devalue yourself and your stance as an ally or member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Bi-erasure is not fair, and doesn’t have space in Pride this year.