Quick wins for bisexual inclusion

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that people do want to include bisexual people when they are talking about ‘LGB people’ or ‘LGB&T people’. I’m going to assume that when they fail to do so, it’s a slip-of-the-tongue, a habit that they want to change. So here are some suggestions for rewordings for common slips-of-the-tongue and the pen.

Although I’m focussing specifically on bi inclusion here, I’ve tried to be trans*-inclusive within this focus, but would especially welcome corrections or additions to this. I’m not trying to cover ‘quick wins for trans* inclusion’ here, but I am trying to ensure that what I am suggesting about bi inclusion is not trans*-exclusive. And of course other suggestions and comments on anything here are very welcome. What have I missed? Do you agree? What other quick wins might there be?

C.d. Kirven with the Trans Pride Flag while Get Equal flies the Bisexual & Rainbow Pride Flags

(cc) Melissa Kleckner https://www.flickr.com/photos/bimagazine/8621541099

 

Don’t describe someone as ‘gay’ just because they have a same-sex partner

… because many bisexual people have same-sex partners and don’t describe themselves as ‘gay’. Use the words people use to describe themselves.

This applies to public figures too – Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, Tom Daley and whoever the latest male politician or sportsman is to have hit the media for having a male lover. Obviously, if they do now describe themselves as gay, then so should you. But if they don’t, then don’t. You could describe them as bisexual or as being attracted to more than one gender or just talk about what has happened without using sexual identity labels. But, best of all, use whatever words they use to describe themselves.

Don’t say ‘gay and straight relationships’ or ‘same-sex and heterosexual relationships’

… because that excludes people in bisexual relationships. Depending on what you actually mean, try ‘all types of relationships’  or ‘LGB and heterosexual’ or, to some audiences, ‘queer and straight’. You might try ‘same-sex and different-sex relationships’, if that’s the distinction you’re really interested in, but that isn’t very trans*-inclusive, because it implies that two people are either the same or different sexes, and sex can be more complicated than that.

Bisexual people in different-sex relationships are not ‘in a heterosexual relationship’ because they are not heterosexual. A heterosexual relationship is something that heterosexual people have. Well, subject to the point above about using people’s own terminology – if bisexual people in a different-sex relationship do want to describe their relationship as heterosexual, then of course they can, but don’t impose that label on them.

Don’t use ‘gay’ as a shorthand for LGB or LGB&T

… because most bisexual people don’t think of themselves as gay – if you say ‘gay’ they feel excluded. ‘Gay’ as a shorthand to include trans* people really doesn’t work well. And some lesbians really don’t like it either. In more formal writing, such as policy reports and research findings, it’s easy enough to avoid using ‘gay’ in this way  - just use LGB or LGB&T or LGBTIQQA or any other such acronym that is appropriate to your context. In speech and some types of media it can be harder to find replacements for ‘gay’ as a shorthand. ‘Queer’ works in some contexts. ‘Non-heterosexual’ works in others.

Don’t forget biphobia (and transphobia)

… because while bisexual people may experience homophobia, they also experience biphobia too. Try ‘homophobia and biphobia’ or ‘homophobia, biphobia and transphobia’. Or, depending on the context, ‘hate crimes against LGBT people’.

There’s more discussion of biphobia and how it differs from homophobia here.

Don’t say you talked to ‘LGB&T people’ if you only talked to lesbians and gay men

… because that suggests that LGB&T people really means lesbians and gay men. Say ‘lesbians and gay men’ if that is who you talked to.

If you had hoped to talk to B and T people as well, but not managed to do so in the end, you could say that. But the fact that you know that there is more to LGB&T than L and G doesn’t make it legitimate to generalise from L and G to LGB&T.

Don’t always subdivide your group of LGB people by gender (e.g. ‘lesbians and bisexual women’ versus ‘gay and bisexual men’)

… because that erases bisexuality by making it sound as if gender is always the most the important difference between LG and B people. Try looking at the bisexual women and bisexual men together as one category. Or see whether some other subdivision, such as race/ethnicity, age or social class is more important.

 

Bisexual Health Awareness Month

Activists and researchers in the US have dubbed this month ‘Bisexual Health Awareness Month’ to highlight the health disparities faced by bisexual people.

Ellyn Ruthstrom draws on the extensive evidence that now exists in this area to report that:

  • Forty-five percent of bisexual women have considered or attempted suicide, followed by bisexual men (35%), lesbians (30%), gay men (25%), and much lower rates for heterosexual women and men.
  • Bisexual women are twice as likely to have an eating disorder than lesbians.
  • Bisexual women report the highest rates of alcohol use, heavy drinking, and alcohol-related problems when compared to heterosexual and lesbian women.
  • Bisexual men and women report the highest rates of smoking of all orientations.

They also created this useful summary image:

BiHealth

 

You can read the full post about the Bisexual Resource Centre initiative here.

The Advocate on Bisexuality and Fluidity

A useful article in The Advocate on bisexuality and fluidity:

Exploring the Umbrella: Bisexuality and Fluidity

A growing body of research indicates that for some people, sexual attractions change over time. But that’s not an endorsement of ‘reparative therapy,’ nor is it a bad thing for our movement.

For years, much of the case for LGBT rights has been based on the argument that sexual orientation is fixed and immutable — baby, we were born this way, and it’s wrong to discriminate against us for something we didn’t choose.

But an increasing body of social science research posits that a sizable number of people experience some degree of fluidity in their sexual and romantic attractions: being drawn to the same gender at one point in their life, the opposite gender at another. Researchers emphasize that this is not something that can be imposed from without, as “ex-gay” therapy would attempt to do, but something that occurs from within. Although our supporters already recognize that why we love who we love is irrelevant, embracing fluid orientations may call for a new approach in advocating for our rights.

The research to date indicates that fluidity is more common among women than among men, but scientists note that this could change as studies continue. Reliable data has only emerged in recent years, but there are now several studies that have found that 10 to 14 percent of American women describe themselves as mostly, but not completely heterosexual, and 6 to 9 percent of American men who self-identify the same way, says Lisa Diamond, a professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. Studies in other countries have found the same general range, she says.

“It’s far more common to be someone who is a little bit attracted to the same sex than someone who is exclusively attracted to the same sex,” says Diamond, author of the 2008 book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire. Read more…

“Bisexuality does exist, it is not a fiction, nor is it a phase”, Edward Lord’s key message to Civil Service equality conference

BiUK member Edward Lord presented a speech today at the Civil Service Rainbow Alliance conference 2013. He said…

I had the privilege of giving a keynote address to today’s Civil Service Rainbow Alliance (the national LGB&T staff network) conference at the Ministry of Defence. Also on the programme were Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service; Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions; Liz Bingham, managing Partner at EY; and Peter Tatchell.

Ed

 

I was invited to speak having been profiled last year by Stonewall as an LGB role model in its publication “Being yourself: sexual orientation and the workplace“, which gave me the starting point for my speech:

“Being an out politician can often mean acting as a role model not just within my local Council, but also in wider society: demonstrating that it is possible to be queer and play an active part in public life.

Indeed, I would argue that my sexual orientation and my understanding of the experiences of LGB&T people makes me better comprehend the diverse society in which we live and the discrimination which those from diverse backgrounds can face.

And it is on one element of discrimination, often within our own LGB&T communities, that I would like to focus my address today.

Of the seventeen Stonewall role models, I was the only one who identifies as bisexual; that is with the capacity to love people of more than one gender.

You may ask why that matters.

You may say “Don’t we all as LGB&T people suffer the same kind of discrimination in society?”

I would argue that we don’t and that there is a hierarchy where, in general, gay men, especially if they’re white and ‘straight acting’, have it a lot easier than lesbians, bisexual people and trans folk.

Bisexual people in particular often find themselves being made invisible both within and outside LGB&T communities.

Read more of this post

Pink News on bi visibility

Great piece on bi visibility in Pink News:

Comment: Why bisexual visibility could be one of the defining LGBT rights struggles of our time

by 
23 September 2013, 2:15pm

The_bisexual_pride_flag_3673713584-1

Today marks the 14th annual Bi Visibility Day, an event held to challenge biphobia by promoting the rights and legitimacy of bisexual people alongside the rest of the gay community. In this article, PinkNews writer Aaron Day reflects on his experiences growing up inside two closets, and explains why bisexual visibility could be considered one of the defining LGBT rights struggles of our time.

Bi Visibility Day (Sept 23) is now 14-years-old, which makes it approximately one year younger than the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and a whopping fifty years younger than the first ever recorded gay pride movement.

It was first launched in 1999 by US activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur. Their intention was to challenge the widespread assumption that people are either born gay or straight – an assumption that has so far led many to believe in the absolute nonexistence of bisexual people.

Curry, Page, and Wilbur are also responsible for the signature bi pride flag we all know today, with its distinctive tri-colour (pink, purple, blue) design. It is this symbol I have since come to identify with as a bisexual man – a symbol that enables me to feel welcomed as part of a open community after spending a great deal of my life feeling both isolated and disconnected from the rest of the gay world.

Today, however, I am also grateful for those I have met in both LGBT groups and societies who are more and more recognising what it means to stand in solidarity with the bisexual community. Support from both friends and family has been overwhelming, and I could not have asked for a more open and accepting environment in which to grow and mature as a person. Read more…

Bi Visibility Day

Happy bisexual visibility day!

Here’s a link to a BiUK post from 2011 about why September 23rd is important:

http://bisexualresearch.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/why-does-bisexuality-need-celebrating/

Meg from BiUK will be taking part in this event tonight for bi visibility, along with Jen Yockney from Bi Community News.

BiVis

Check out Meg’s presentation for the event here:

http://prezi.com/envyesbgvkzd/the-bisexuality-report/

New edition of Bi Women out today

The new edition of Bi Women magazine is available below and on their website.

Bi_Women_V31-4_Fall_13

Interview with Meg Barker at BECAUSE

Bi Cities has put up the interview they did with Meg Barker when they were over at the first US BiReCon, and BECAUSE conference, earlier this summer.

Meg talks about BiReCon, The Bisexuality Report, mental health, and more.

http://blip.tv/bicities/235-dr-meg-barker-because-2013-6626420

New bisexual magazine: BI 2.0

Esperanza Montero & Manuel Sebastia have brought out a brand new bimonthly bisexual magazine: BI 2.0.  They say:

This magazine was a dream and an idea of a group of independent BI activist of creating a place where anyone with something to say can do so, and that this something will reach to our people. A cultural and social space available worldwide. A breakout with the commercial, with the superfluous, with the media, with what “people expect” about bisexuality.

Download it here and watch this space for more.

001 ENG

Same-sex marriage and BiUK

More on same-sex marriage and bisexuality (and BiUK) over on http://rewritingtherules.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/same-sex-marriage-opening-up-and-closing-down/

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