With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: How Bi-erasure Granted Me Invisibility

This may be the more sensational title I’ve ever used.

Being bisexual is a difficult thing to be. It’s not something you have control over, but the moment you are born in to this sexuality, it will never be referred to by name.

You are closeted.

You are an ex-Lesbian.

You are going through a phase.

Basically, Hannah Montana lied to me. Bisexuality is hardly the best of both worlds; it’s a target for the worst of all worlds to attack. I find that women are put off me when they find I’m bisexual. The belief is there that I will stray back to penis, and decide that my lesbian phase is over. I’m not a real lesbian, therefore I am not worth the time.

Then assume I find a man who isn’t homophobic and put off by the attraction to women. Suddenly I am assaulted with a barrage of fetishised questions, and the inevitable request for a threesome.

I experience homophobia just as any homosexual would. Yet there is no community for me to turn to when the homosexual community decides I do not qualify to join their ranks. I’m too straight for them, and therefore do not deserve their comradery.

I know not every queer person thinks this way, but this is the same language I face daily with the generalisations of bisexuality. Bisexuals are greedy, in denial, or whores. There is no middle ground for us. Bisexuality is just an experiment.

So what prompted this blog post?

Absolutely nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary happened to me today. It was yet another day of watching television, and noticing that there is no role model for me. If a bisexual person comes out, they are swiftly claimed as homosexual, and that is the last we will hear of it. Characters in shows, if they dare to use the b-word, are not characters to be emulated. They are the villains, the deviants and very rarely the hero.

A show I often hear lauded is Orange is the New Black. I’ll be honest, I don’t like it that much, but I’m all for representation in the media. Having a culturally diverse cast with queer members in a mainstream show always a good thing. And unlike Glee, it’s not repulsing me.

In Orange is the New Black, there is the character of Piper. She is attracted to both men and women. But the b-word is never used. It’s as though it is a slur that we are not comfortable having in our media. She is instead “ex-lesbian” or “on a spectrum”, in the same way that Glee’s Brittany is “fluid”. We’re invited to infer what we like, but without the creators outright telling us that this is what the character is, we’re susceptible to people telling us we’re wrong, and corrupting characters to meet our bi-agenda. This isn’t a role model for young and confused bisexuals. I didn’t realise until college that I could like both men and women. It was an epiphany moment of “Oh! I am normal!”. All this because no one told me that I could like all the genders, no matter where they fall on the spectrum.

In the media, I am invisible. And when I am visible, I am a slut in denial. One needs to look no further than Andrew Garfield daring to suggest that Spiderman be portrayed as bisexual and Stan Lee’s reaction.

“He’s becoming bisexual? Who have you been talking to? Seriously, I don’t know anything about that. And if it’s true, I’m going to make a couple of phone calls. I figure one sex is enough for anybody.”

People are not comfortable with bisexuals. And I can see why. I mean, we are superheroes. With our invisibility, we can take over the world. And maybe then, I can see a bisexual on the TV.

And so dear readers, we reach the end of another blog post. And I feel better already.

So let me ask you; do you have any bisexual role models, whether in reality on in the fictional world?

Do you have any experiences with bi-erasure?

Let me know your thoughts!

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About Stephanie Gallon

I'm 22 years old with first class honours in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. I'm currently studying MA English Studies. I'm an author, a blogger, and a zealot of all things written. I write on everything from comics, to feminism, to advice on university life.
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10 Responses to With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: How Bi-erasure Granted Me Invisibility

  1. disconcerted72 says:

    II don’t think I would be off-base, if I said, “The only bisexuals that have not experienced bi-erasure are the ones that have kept their bisexuality a secret.”

    Unfortunately, I think it is the worst kind of phobia: the bisexual. We tend to get criticized in much worse a fashion than our homosexual counter-parts. And as you noted, the mainstream can’t seem to name us. I don’t know that I have a bisexual role-model, but I recently made reference in my blog about Emile Griffith, a boxer that was most likely bisexual. I referenced him, mainly because I could relate to the confusion and stereotypes he experienced.

    But I also think that there are enough wonderful people, like yourself, that know who they are and make no excuses for it. And for that, I feel inspired.

    Like

    • I wouldn’t say it was the worst. It’s definitely bad, but I feel the discrimination that transgendered people receive is generally a lot worse. But the bi discrimination is one I receive a lot. You’re obviously entitled to your opinion, though 🙂

      Emile Griffith is a good example! Not one I expected to be mentioned. There’s an argument for it there.

      Thank you!

      Like

  2. kdaddy23 says:

    I got introduced to bisexuality at a young age – back in the 1960s – so there were no role models and no helpful information to guide me along the way; I had to learn to deal with this via trial and error and I think only my intelligence and thirst to understand this thing about myself helped me get over all of the hurdles that, today, I see so many bisexuals struggling with, the same hurdles you’ve mentioned here. In my blog, I try to give back, to help those who are struggling and trying to deal with all the crap being flung at bisexuals.

    That bi-erasure thing? It’s a joke and just another lame attempt to insist that bisexuals don’t exist and this is true because I know I exist, just like I know I’m not the only bisexual man on the planet. I figure that the folks behind this aren’t really trying to make me disappear – they’re trying to argue against something from a position of weakness; they don’t understand what’s going on with bisexuals nor can their tiny minds accept the obvious fact that we have been here all along – and we’re not going anywhere.

    By trying to erase us, they’re just showing everyone just how afraid they are as well as the depths of their ignorance and, no, the media’s not helping any – which is why I don’t pay attention to them when they go nuts over some celebrity who has come out. By trying to erase us and saying that we’re the ones in denial, it’s really them who are in abject denial – how can you say bisexuals don’t exist when there’s just too much evidence that says we do?

    What they don’t understand is that if we don’t want the whole world to know we’re bisexual, WE DON’T HAVE TO. If we’re happy being invisible, that’s fine even though the haters don’t like that we can do this. Sure, we can be subjected to the same vicious homophobia that gay folks have been dealing with (and longer than I’ve been alive) but that’s to be expected because they don’t know what the real deal is: We’re not straight but we’re not gay either… but all they can focus on and bitch about is the part of us that can be gay… if we want or have to… and some of us don’t want to and damned sure don’t have to.

    I’ve learned to not let this silliness bother me – I have more important things to worry about. I submit to other bisexuals to not let the silliness bother them either and instead of “feeling sorry” for being bisexual, we should feel pity or something for all those folks who really don’t understand. Is it the best of both worlds? Yeah, it really is but just like everyone else – and sexuality aside – you wind up dealing with the good and the bad of these worlds – that’s just how life is and anyone who doesn’t understand this should contact me and make an appointment so we can talk about it.

    Sorry about the rant but I am very passionate about being bisexual and refuse to let all these negatives steal my joy in this.

    Like

    • Never let them steal your joy. I find the worst thing you can do to people when they’re trying to bring you down is to keep you head held high and proud.

      It is so much easier for people to be in denial about bisexuality but it takes away the fear factor, as though we are predatory and wanting to hurt people.

      I imagine there were next to no bisexual role models in the 60s. I’m glad that you managed to get by without one 🙂

      Like

  3. ellendolfan says:

    I’m fortunate. My best friend is a bi male. He was someone to talk to, ask questions and have for support. He more or less walked me through the process of accepting my bisexuality. Not an easy thing to do since I had kept it buried for 46 years.

    Like

  4. Heather says:

    I’ve always found it difficult to understand why people have such a hard time accepting bisexuals? Why so much scrutiny and denial? Why do they think a person can’t like both men and women? I know I’m lacking depth in my example and going off base a little here but I feel like what people are saying,wether you’re considered straight or homosexual is that you must identify yourself with a specific type of person you’re attracted to and stick to it, but that’s like tryin to say, and this is an example I can only really think of to explain but I had a friend who was white and always found herself attracted to black men and dated black men and people saw her for that, than one day she fell in love with a white man completely different then the men she would usually be attracted to or seen with and I was surprised how much grief she actually got from that, like she was wasn’t be true about her attraction to black men as if she was only experimenting or going through a phase but at the end of the day still ended up with and fell in love and married a “white guy”, she said it was never about race because if the man who she married was exactly the same person but black or Asian or any other race she still would of married him because she fell in love with him as a person! I feel that’s almost what people are kind of trying to say about bisexuals, like I never understood why it was an issue or why it mattered that she could be attracted to different looking men, because let’s face it a majority of the time besides what I was explaining here is, it seems as long as your sexual orientation is identified as either or it’s not typically questioned or brought to any attention if you are or are not particularly attracted to a certain look or style or image or even race, so why can’t a person be attracted to both a male or female and I mean beyond just a physical perspective as well, why do people think it’s impossible to develop feelings even and can create healthy relationships as well!? Does experimentation exist yes, but I still think that it shouldn’t make the real truth at hand any less credible and that is bisexuality exist! I never realized until recently how problematic the topic is. It’s like people are accusing bisexuals of not being able to fully commit to a cause or movement! I know this is another “poor” example but it’s almost like saying if you say you’re republican or democrat you have to be conservative or liberal there’s no inbetween and if you vote for the opposite party at any point you’re not really a true representative. Life isn’t black or white so why do people think sexuality has to be. I guess it’s disappointing to think that there are homosexuals that have known what’s it’s like to hide in the closest or feel discriminated against but in turn can do the same thing, I get they think possibly it seem that bisexuality “mocks” what they’ve worked so hard to stand up for but they should really see the value in accepting others for who they are just as they have always wanted. I can only say this for myself but love is something we cant always control and wether I want to identify myself to a sexual identity or not I do know for a fact by experience that I have been attracted to and even loved romantically both sexes and no one can ever reject that or prove it to be untrue no matter how hard they try! But I’d love your feedback

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