More People Identify as Bisexual and Report Being Shunned Because of It
From the momentous Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage to the lifted ban on allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military, the LGBT community experienced some significant moments this past year. While LGBT acceptance is still on the rise, there’s one growing demographic that continues to face discrimination even within their community: those who identify as bisexual.
Last Thursday, a nationwide survey revealed that more people—namely young adult women—are identifying as bisexual than in previous years.
The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that the number of women who identify as bisexual increased from 3.9 percent—the result of a CDC survey that ran from 2006 to 2010—to 5.5 percent, and the number of men increased from 1.2 percent to 2 percent. More than 9,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 participated in face-to-face interviews between 2011 and 2013. The study also showed that younger generations were less likely to say they were exclusively attracted to one sex, as opposed to participants 25 to 44.
In recent months, a number of high-profile celebrities have stepped forward to discuss their open-ended sexuality. Hunger Games actor Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue, came out as bisexual in a Snapchat video on Teen Vogue’s account.
Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne, and Lily-Rose Depp have also admitted to being sexually fluid. While these celebrities are opening the door for younger people who are neither completely heterosexual nor homosexual to come forward, the stigma that comes with being bisexual continues to keep others far from the spotlight.
“Even within the gay community, I can’t tell you how many people have told me, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t date a bisexual.’ Or ‘Bisexuals aren’t real.’ There’s this idea, especially among gay men, that guys who say they’re bisexual are lying, on their way to being gay, or just kind of unserious and unfocused,” Ian Lawrence, an American Institute of Bisexuality board member, told The New York Times.
Though bisexual people are an integral part of the LGBT community, a large number of them have reported experiencing almost as much discrimination in the community as they do outside of it. A recent study conducted by counseling psychology Ph.D. student Tangela Roberts and two professors from the University of Massachusetts found that of the 745 bisexual people they studied, the biphobia experienced by participants came not only from straight people but also an almost comparable amount from the gay and lesbian community. Those who participated were asked to rate their anti-bisexual experiences, with questions including whether people addressed their bisexuality as a matter of being confused, whether people assumed they were more likely to cheat, and whether they were excluded from social networks.
“Bisexual people report that they often feel as if they do not have a place in society and as if they have nowhere to turn for social support,” the study authors wrote. “As a result, if individuals receive inadequate social support in their identity as bisexual, individuals may have an extremely difficult time accepting and embracing their sexual orientation.”
A 2013 Pew Research Center Study reported that only 28 percent of bisexuals say all or most of those closest to them know of their sexuality, compared with 77 percent of gay men and 71 percent of lesbian women.
As more bisexual people in the limelight open up about their sexuality, those who find themselves struggling with their sexual identity may find comfort in hearing the testimonies of others like themselves.
“It’s a really, really hard thing to be silenced, and it’s deeply bruising to fight against your identity and to mold yourself into shapes that you just shouldn’t be in,” said Stenberg in her Snapchat video to fans. “We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears and be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow.”