How Far We’ve Come: Bi Visibility Day 2017
Marked on the 23rd of September each year, since 1999 according to the website, Bisexual Visibility Day is a international day used to celebrate bi people. As the name implies, this isn’t simply about celebrating being bi, but actively making ourselves more visible. It’s a day like Pride when bisexual people can stand proudly, demanding to be noticed and validated. Something we don’t often get day-to-day.
When I first took part in Bi Visibility Day in 2015, I wanted to be vocal using a medium that I felt was my strength, my writing. I wrote a blog post on my personal site, it was only a few words and I used a picture of myself as the main image. It felt powerful to put that online, available for the world to see. Now, I hadn’t been closeted at the time, so it wasn’t like coming out, but it did have a certain significance. It felt like standing to be counted. It was me joining the ranks of other visible bisexuals.
Various articles I’ve written over the years about being bisexual are, for me, steps on the journey to creating more visibility for bisexual people. I don’t often meet people who make it known that they are bisexual, but then I have trouble speaking up about it myself. I’m still working on finding my own voice offline.
Some of my last words in that post on Bi Visibility Day were:
I consider the daily actions of myself and others like me on Bisexual Visibility Day, of allowing ourselves to be seen and proactively raising the subject today of all days, to be the best sign of changing times.
Since then, bisexual visibility has grown, with more public person calling themselves bisexual and more conversations (however fruitful or not) including at least some bi voices. We’ve come a long way.
What I could never have imagined back then was that I would be writing for an online publication targeted at bi people, specifically to improve visibility and give all bi people out there a sense of inclusion in a magazine about anything and everything.
I still feel in 2017, as many do, that there is still so much work to be done to increase the visibility and acceptance of bisexuality. Looking at where we are now, it warms my heart to think that I have a regular podcast with a bisexual host to listen to (Nico Tortorella’s The Love Bomb), bisexual actors to watch in a superhero TV show (Keiynan Lonsdale on The Flash) and a cop comedy (Stephanie Beatriz in Brooklyn 99), and bi writers to read and learn from.
We are being visible by standing up to be counted, and that is helping more and more people to come out and be proud of their bisexuality too.
How is bisexuality defined?
With increased awareness though, comes increased scrutiny. The only way to stop the disparaging remarks, bi erasure and hate, is by educating people of what being bi is. A more complex task than it may seem as bi can have different definitions depending on who you are.
Anna Borges created some amazing graphs that have been circulating around Twitter, they speak to the bisexual experience of many of us. The summation of the message of these three was bisexuality is a valid identity.
If we are to be visible, we need for the meaning of our identity to be understood and clear. The Bisexual Index defines bisexuality as “someone who is attracted to more than one gender”. It’s a good definition, in my opinion, because it allows for the broadest possible look at gender and gender identity.
As a bisexual person, I can be attracted to men and women, but also non-binary persons. For many bisexual people, attraction to more than one gender leaves to door open to people who define however they choose. Pansexuality is an alternative word to bisexual that some use. Stop-Homophobia defines it as follows: Pansexuals have the capability of attraction to others regardless of their gender identity or biological sex.
Being able to identify as bi is important for many, to give them a cornerstone from which to know themselves. It is of great importance that this visibility is there so that young people and those in remote locations can see a representation of themselves in the world, existing and happy.
Bisexuality is a large umbrella term, with many terms considered to fall under it. But does using Bi Visibility Day to celebrate all Bi people make it inclusive enough? One of the groups that get swept under the carpet with Bi being used for Bisexual, are Biromantics. As those who have at least some visibility, I feel we need to work to lift them up, giving them recognition too.
Biromantics are valid and need visibility too
Bi Visibility Day isn’t intentionally exclusionary, but bi, as a shortening can be. As pointed out to me on Twitter by Steph Farnsworth, of The Queerness, terms like bi+ can act like bi erasure for biromantic people because the bi shortening is assuming to be for bisexual.
Biromantic, if you don’t know, is the non-sexual attraction equivalent of bisexual. It’s the romantic attraction to more than one gender, for companionship, affection or intimacy and is not sexual in nature.
We are all intersectional, be we women, non-binary, trans, hispanic, dutch, tall, deaf, or any number of other things. Often we’ll be more than two or three. With gender identities and sexualities that can be combined over these intersectionalities, we are never just one thing.
I don’t think that Bi Visibility Day should be for only one part of the Bi community. I want it to improve the knowledge and awareness of Bisexual people, but I also want to use it to raise the profile and understanding of Biromantic people.
Biromantics need visibility too, as do any number of intersectional identities like asexuals and aromantics. If you want to read more about this, read the aforementioned Steph Farnsworth’s The LGBTQ community only cares about one kind of love, and consider how your bisexual identity might feel if it wasn’t validated, at least, on one day each year.
Those who can be visible, I urge you to be visible
Glaad’s #BiWeek video is a wonderful summation of some of the voices that are speaking out for bi people. Including, importantly, those pansexual, fluid and questioning people. Finding your identity, or one of the identities that you might align yourself with in a lifetime, is a powerful tool. Whether you are out or on the journey to it, you are valid and real and no-one can take that from you.
Being able to speak up about it is a great gift and anyone who can, should stand up and be counted. This matters so much, especially on Bi Visibility Day, because someone out there might be on their own journey and need either someone to connect to, to find representation in, or a few words that will plant a seed and allow that person to feel able to be themselves one day soon.
Happy Bi Visibility Day!
How Far We’ve Come: Bi Visibility Day 2017 was originally published in reFAB on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.