To celebrate Bisexual Awareness Week and Bi Visibility Day, PinkNews sat down with bisexual icons from all walks of life to discuss representation, gender and mental health – and to celebrate the beauty of being bi.
Bisexual people are less likely than gay men and lesbians to be out. Even when they are, they face unique stigmas and are frequently misunderstood by both straight and queer people, notably biphobia and bi-erasure. However, there is also much joy to be found in being bisexual – something that’s celebrated each year on Bisexual Visibility Day (September 23).
For the latest instalment of MyPinkNews Conversations, a diverse group of bisexual writers, content creators and activists gathered to discuss what being bisexual means to them in 2020.
Many of the issues faced by bisexual folk stem from a lack of representation.
Sharan Dhaliwal, editor-in-chief of the UK’s leading South Asian magazine Burnt Roti, said that it’s is about more than just wanting to see bisexual people on television.
“It’s where people learn things, it’s a form of education a lot of the times — it’s genuinely for our livelihood so that we can exist the way we want to exist,” she said.
A major issue within the community is mental ill-health. A study conducted in 2017 found that bisexual people are “are at higher risk for poor mental health outcomes compared to heterosexual as well as lesbian and gay individuals”.
However, Tess Brooks, co-chair of Bi Pride, questioned whether a lack of specific training on bisexuality among mental health professionals could be contributing to bi people being “over diagnosed”.
“Are we being used as symptoms of mental health conditions?” they asked. “Or is it a case of professionals just not understanding where we’re coming from?”
During the discussion, the group also discussed how bisexuality is not a monolith.
Stephan Kyriacou, production and editorial assistant at PinkNews, is a bisexual transgender man, and spoke about how the two parts of his identity intersect.
“With me, the sexuality realisation comes after the gender realisation, Stephan said.
“It’s [about] becoming comfortable with yourself and your gender identity and then allowing yourself to explore your sexuality further.”
For Monique Monrowe, food vlogger and entrepreneur, bisexuality “has really challenged [her] ideas about relationships” and has “deconstructed some of those gender roles”.
Regardless of the gender of her partner, Monique said: “The way that I approach that relationship and that union is just different. I don’t think I would have had that if I wasn’t bisexual.”
Writer and columnist Zachary Zane said that being bisexual “is kind of the biggest blessing thats been given to” him.
“For so many reasons,” he explained. “I am no longer seeing things as binaries, no longer looking at people and immediately judging them, because I used to be like, ‘Oh thats a straight couple, thats a gay couple’. No, that could be bi people in a relationship.”