Bisexuality and depression

There’s a great new post up on Bisexuality and Beyond by Sue George on bisexuality and depression.

For long as I’ve been writing this blog, one of the main ways new people find it is by searching for “bisexuality and depression”. I find that really sad, but nothing like as sad as the statistics about bisexuality and mental health.

  • A major Canadian study found bisexual men 6.3 times more likely, and bi women 5.9 times more likely, to report having been suicidal than heterosexual people
  •  A large Australian study found rates of mental health problems among bi people to be higher than those among lesbians, gay men, or heterosexuals.
  •  The UK Mind report on the mental health and wellbeing of LGB people found that bi men and women were less at ease about their sexuality than lesbians or gay men, and less likely to be out.

Bisexuality and mental health is currently a big issue in the bi community. This summer’s BiReCon (the British conference that looks at current research on bisexuality) had bisexuality and mental health as its theme. Read more…

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BiReCon 2012: Meg’s talk

Thursday 9th August 2012 saw the third biennial BiReCon event (#birecon2012 on twitter). Following the main findings of The Bisexuality Report, published earlier this year, the conference focused on bisexuality and mental health. Huge thanks to Rebecca Jones, Caroline Walters and Helen Bowes-Catton for organising such a wonderful event.

The full programme of the event is available here and we will be encouraging speakers to write up their presentations for BiUK and/or BCN over the coming weeks and months.

Keynote talks considered the individual and community implications of bisexual mental health, explored intersectionality and debates around ethnicity and sexuality, and outlined changes in the UK mental health system, drawing out possibilities for future bisexual mental health. In parallel sessions we heard fascinating explorations of the overlaps between stereotypes of bisexuality and the diagnostic category of borderline personality disorder, as well as an important consideration of eating disorders in bisexual men. One workshop covered bisexual people’s experiences of mental health services, which will be fed back to key National Health Service providers. Talks also dealt with understandings of sexuality more broadly, non-monogamous relationships, Shakespeare, and the importance of the bisexual community in relation to mental health.

For Meg Barker’s presentation on Depression and/or oppression? Bisexuality and Mental Health you can view the prezi presentation here, and listen to it (and Rebecca’s introduction to BiReCon) on these youtube clips.

 

 

 

Risk and resilience study

New Canadian bisexuality survey launched, dealing with biphobia and mental health. Great video here!

 

Bifurious!

Great article by Petra Davis in August DIVA magazine about biphobia:

It seems there’s a lot of anger floating around in bi space at the moment. Recent debates over Jessie J’s sexuality have left many bi women feeling bruised at the claim that her bisexuality was an invention to cover up her lesbianism, and Jessie’s angry denial was interpreted by some lesbians as homophobic. The argument raged over social media, reviving ancient debates on bisexuality as privilege, as deception, and as titillation – and when bi people complained that these assumptions were biphobic, they were accused of a victim mentality.

Sound familiar? Here’s more: Staceyann Chin’s recent piece for the Guardian, Why Chasing Straight Women Still Thrills Me, characterised the “not-so-straight”, the “almost-gay”, as frustratingly unable to commit, terrible in bed, selfish and unaware of the politics of our choices. Chin spoke of the “average lesbian gathering” where conversation invariably turns to the trauma done to dykes by women “unwilling to make the dive into lesbian sexuality permanent”, as though women who sleep with women are morally obliged to continue – as though bisexuality is still, somehow, disloyal.

I decide to hold a virtual gathering of my own, a sort of angry online dinner party. My friend Georgina sighs: “I just felt really fatigued when I read that. We’ve had this so many times; the surprise is gone; it’s just bullshit that this continues. It’s exhausting: really, again?”. Read more…

Sex, Politics, and Stereotypes: BiUK’s response to Julie Bindel, June 2012

In a recent article for the Huffington Post, Julie Bindel asks ‘What makes some of us uncomfortable with bisexual women’? She goes on to answer her own question by rehearsing a series of negative stereotypes about bisexual women, suggesting that they are apolitical, hedonistic, trendily transgressive sexual tourists, testing out their fantasies on unsuspecting lesbians and straight men. Interested only in the pursuit of pleasure, they are not to be trusted personally or politically, and indeed may not exist at all. If bisexual women had ‘an ounce of sexual politics’, she asserts, they would stop having sex with men and make a positive choice to identify as lesbians. Instead of this, they hedonistically pursue their sexual desires at the cost of their political integrity.

We would like to make two points in response to this article. First, a growing body of academic research and bisexual activist literature, both online and in print, and including work by Paula Rodríguez-Rust, cited by Bindel in her article, consistently demonstrates that for many people, identifying as bisexual is as much a matter of politics as it is of desire. As one bi activist told us:

Personally, I have definitely made a positive choice to identify as bisexual. I could easily identify as either lesbian or straight, but it’s politically important to me to identify as bi. My identity as a bi woman is grounded in my feminism, my conviction that gender and sexuality are socially constructed, and my commitment to LGBT equality. It’s deeply political- it’s just a different political position from Julie Bindel’s!

(Claire, bisexual activist)

Clearly, while many women who experience attraction towards people of more than one gender choose to identify as bisexual, many others choose to identify as lesbian or straight. All of these are valid choices, which may be made on the basis of deeply-felt political convictions. Bindel’s polemic, however, dismisses all viewpoints other than her own as apolitical, and swiftly resorts to name-calling. Bindel would most likely object, and rightly so, to a critique of radical feminism that relied for its credence on tired old clichés about cropped hair, boiler suits and man-hating, and dismissed lesbian separatism as an apolitical choice based on a failure to engage with the complexities of twenty-first century gender relations. It’s disappointing, then, that she dismisses political bisexuality in such terms.

Our second point is concerned with the impact on bisexual people of the publication of articles such as Bindel’s, which clearly promote biphobia. As we outlined in our recent publication The Bisexuality Report, research has repeatedly shown that bisexual people are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidality than lesbian, gay or heterosexual people, and that this may be linked to the negative stereotypes about bisexuality which circulate in popular culture. These statistics are of great concern to UK bisexual communities and their allies, as well as to mental health practitioners, and for these reasons, bisexuality and mental health is the theme of BiReCon, our biennial conference, in August this year.

By recycling harmful stereotypes about bisexuality in the defence of political lesbianism, Julie Bindel contributes to the biphobic cultural conditions that contribute to high rates of mental distress among bisexuals. By dismissing bisexuals as universally apolitical, she betrays her own ignorance of approaches to contemporary sexual politics other than her own.

Helen Bowes-Catton for BiUK

Read more:

New Statesman response

Stereotypes bad for bi people

From the Academic Bi mailing list

Researchers publishing in the The Journal of Bisexuality say a variety of unfounded assumptions often driven by the media contribute to a culture of Biphobia that affects all bisexual people. The studies show that the Bisexual community is diverse and subject to discrimination from gay/lesbian and straight people alike, which negatively impacts the health and social lives of people who identify as bisexual.

Denise Penn, a director with the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB), spoke with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) about her thoughts on these recent studies, and how to end stereotypes about bi people in the media.

Penn, who says that bisexuality “is sometimes forgotten” by the public, is very pleased with the increasing diversity of LGBT characters in the media, but notes “there’s still a lot of progress to be made.” Often when a character is portrayed as bisexual, “the stereotype lingers that it’s a person who is confused, or someone who has a man and a woman on the side, or who has a woman and a man on the side.”

Read Full Article Here:
http://www.glaad.org/blog/study-shows-stereotypes-about-bisexuality-are-harmful

Lack of bisexual community leading to adverse mental health?

From The British Psychological Society:

Lack of bisexual community leading to adverse mental health?

The lack of a bisexual community could be negatively impacting the health of men attracted to both males and females. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Journal of Bisexuality, which showed guys believe a lack of such a group – that would enable them to be more involved with likeminded adults – significantly affects their wellbeing.

Brian Dodge, Associate Professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, found the stigma bisexual people experience at the hands of both heterosexual and homosexual individuals plays a big part in making them feel isolated.

The investigation revealed this biphobia also contributed to the social stress felt by bisexual males in their everyday lives.

Mr Dodge stated: “Being bisexual, not having a community to be involved with, not having people they could disclose to, homosexual or heterosexual, was tied to their experiences of adverse mental health.

Meg comments: When we put together The Bisexuality Report early this year, we reviewed the evidence from a number of countries and found that bisexual people consistently experienced more mental health problems and distress than heterosexual, and lesbian and gay people. This concurs with Brian Dodge’s recent findings.

Read more of this post

Some people are bi

Today is international day against homophobia and transphobia but instead of the obvious post about the bi erasure going on in that title we’d like to celebrate a couple of bits of bi visibility that have happened this week.

First Stonewall introduced a facebook banner to add to their ‘some people are gay, get over it’ campaign. Good on you Stonewall!

Second, Amy Andre, the authors of Bisexual Health: An Introduction, is conducting a fascinating interview with researcher Lisa Diamond over at The Huffington Post.  Lisa is a committed bi ally and her work on sexual fluidity in women is really important for challenging fixed ideas about sexual ‘orientation’.

When Dr. Lisa Diamond gave a keynote speech at the recent BECAUSE conference, I just had to sit up and listen. As whipsmart as she is unapologetically outspoken, this University of Utah psychology professor has her finger on the pulse of human sexuality research — and the attention of homophobic and biphobic conservatives who try to twist her findings to further their own agenda. She’s the last person who’s going to take that lying down.

Dr. Diamond isn’t just the author of the groundbreaking book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire. She’s also a lesbian, a self-identified ally to the bi community, and a social scientist who declares that bisexuals “represent the vast majority of individuals with same-sex attractions” and are the norm in the LGB (lesbian, gay, bi) population!

In this two-part interview I got a chance to learn more about Dr. Diamond’s research, her precedent-setting commitment to the truth about bisexual lives and lesbian desires, and how she stands up to bigots at the federal level. Here is part one:

Read more.

New UK bisexuality research

Caroline Harvey explains her new study:

Learning To Get Bi? Analysing Postmodern, Poststructuralist, Queer Theoretical, and Sexual Geographical Perspectives on the Construction of ‘Bisexuality’ and ‘Bisexual’ Sexual Identity. 

How is Bisexual Identity and ‘Reality’ Constructed Within the Straight/Gay Binary of the Modern Western World?”

Basically I’m attempting to analyse and construct a ‘basic’ understanding of how bisexual men and women are able to formulate and be confident and comfortable in their bisexuality when the majority of the Western world and subsequent policy, legislation and even general ‘common-sense’ understandings of sexuality tend to be very much dominated by and regulated within the binary of straight/gay and lesbian identity. Hopefully this work will highlight the impact of biphobia, bi-invisibility and the very real ignorance and avoidance that bisexual people encounter on a regular basis. The usual stereotypes which can be evidenced by both hetero-/homosexual communities can often be over looked or seen as acceptable in many sectors of society, and therefore this work intends to challenge and question why this is acceptable.

The dangerous and damaging consequences of biphobia and bisexual ‘avoidance’ cannot be ignored and the fact that despite Western society insists and promotes the gay/straight dichotomy, bisexual men and woman continue to live their lives as such, being proud and comfortable in doing so and I would asset proves that rather than (as at present) being deemed as an afterthought, bisexuality, queer identity, gender fluidity, gender fucking, pan sexuality, omnisexuality and any other of the myriad of explanations and representations that individuals choose to describe themselves as thus therefore needing to be awarded their proper and deserved place in society.

One point I find especially pertinent is that until 1967 ‘homosexual acts’ between 2 men was deemed illegal, whilst in 2005 civil partnerships between same sex couples came into force. Bisexuality seems to be in a similar position; whilst not criminally illegal or legislated against (although ostensibly morally so) how long will it take for bisexual identity to gain its rightful acceptance in society.

I am also aiming to use the blogs of bi men and women in order to gain insight into and trace if/when changes and transitions in attitudes occur and so if anyone knows of something/someone which could be of use in my research I would be extremely grateful and they can contact me on: caroline.harvey@research.sunderland.ac.uk

Interview with bi activist, Yemisi Ilesanmi

Very interesting interview with bisexual activist Yemisi Ilesanmi on the Sporah show: