September 23rd is Bi Visibility Day, a day where we can acknowledge and affirm bisexual and biromantic folks. A quote from the Washington Post reads, “One in six adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBT” and of that, 72% identify as bisexual. To delve more deeply into this identity, we talked to Sophia Hunter (she/they), who identifies as genderqueer, bisexual, and biromatic.
When asked to define bisexuality, Hunter said, “‘Bi’ is an evolving term! It means something different to each bi-identifying person.” She added that “The prefix ‘bi’ means ‘two’. Usually, ‘bi’ implies attraction to both men and women. However, with progressive understanding of gender changing and largely eliminating a default gender binary of man and woman, and with my own non-binary gender identity, I have heard some bi folks suggest we accept a definition of bi as being attraction to both cis people and trans people, regardless of particular gender”.
Bi folks experience a variety of marginalizations, both within the queer community and outside of it. “We experience biphobia from larger straight-normalized society that expects heterosexuality from us, and also from monosexual (i.e. attraction to only one gender) queer people, who sometimes expect us to pursue relationships with people of the same gender in order to call ourselves queer. All of this can be summed up in one statement: not being straight enough for straight people, and not being gay enough for queer people. This reality we face can be extremely isolating. In fact, bi individuals face greater risk for mental health problems than both straight people and lesbians and gay men,” Hunter said.
However, many bisexual and biromantic people find great joy in their identities as well, despite the struggles they face. Hunter said, “The experience of discovering I love in more ways than one is filled with indescribable joy. It’s so hard to describe to someone that’s never had to realize they love differently than the norm does. I’m so thankful that I was created bi. Knowing my capacity for love extends farther than what is normalized in our society is thrilling and humbling, and as an out bi person, I look at the world with so much more devotion than I ever could or did before. All love is beautiful. All love is love. Coming into and coming out to the fullness of how my love was created to be is astonishing.”
The support of allies matters. Hunter gives several clear ways that everyone can support bisexual and biromantic folks around them: “Acknowledge Pride month and bi visibility month!…because we are attracted to the opposite gender as well as the same– we’re not just in queer spaces. We’re in straight, “normal” spaces too, and you’d never know. Be aware of that. In general, if you or someone you know holds assumptions about bi folks like I mentioned earlier, please please do unlearn them. There are so many resources on bi experiences available online, and a couple of Google searches should help you correct this thinking… Hold us in loving and explicit affirmation. Make space for us to be and talk about all that we are. Accept that we are who we say we are; accept that we are capable of knowing who we are. Celebrate who and how we love: including when we love ourselves. Love is the best thing to have and experience in this hell of a world, so celebrate it and affirm it wherever it is.”