It’s LGBT History Month, a celebration and mark of respect to the courageous LGBT people who’ve got us this far. It’s also a call to action, a reminder that we must improve the lives of LGBT people, to pass on the baton in a better state than we received it to the next generation of queer people.
I’m a bisexual man, and whilst LGBT people may have a lot to celebrate and remember, it’s a different story for bisexual men. I challenge you, how many famous or influential bisexual men can you name? Who was that guy that made the world understand some men can be attracted to more than just one gender? I don’t really have anyone I look up to or celebrate and the effects of there not having been an influential bisexual man that forced the world to respect the orientation is felt.
Now I’m not saying history Is in any way void of bisexuality, in fact it was a bisexual woman Brenda Howard who helped put together the first ever pride parade, an act which saw her dubbed the “Mother of Pride.” Many suggest Freddie Mercury or David Bowie are bi icons but both were at times ambiguous of how they defined their sexuality, which in my opinion didn’t really help solidify the identity.
There are some that I do think are impressive. Alan Cumming is a great one, he told Instinct Magazine in a 2013 interview: “I still define myself as a bisexual even though I have chosen to be with Grant. I’m sexually attracted to the female form even though I am with a man and I just feel that bisexuals have a bad rap.” Conner Mertens was the first active college football player to publicly come out about his sexuality. Ezra Miller has also spoken out about his sexuality and that he is not gay or straight. The problem with these examples however is, would I have known about their bisexuality if I wasn’t looking for it? We haven’t had a famous bisexual man so indistinguishable in the public eye for his sexuality that it causes the everyday person to accept it as a credible orientation.
The women are certainly leading the charge in this area, female bisexuals have had a range of strong, well-known women happy to be open about their orientation. It’s reassuring for bi women to know that they stand with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Angelina Jolie, Gillian Anderson, Lady Gaga and Drew Barrymore, to name a few. That’s not to say bisexual women don’t face just as many issues a bi men, but they do have a few more current role models they can look too. So when will the men stand up and be brave?
It’s a wonder how we got here, bisexuality is nothing new, in the history books Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Ancient Japan are all cultures where bisexual men have been well documented.
The consequences of bisexuals being invisible are evident when looking at research. Shockingly only 12% of bisexual men are out of the closet compared to 77% of gay men according to Pew Social Trends. Mental health is also suffering with ONS finding that bisexual people feeling less happy and more anxious than other sexualities. Even in quality of life bisexuals do the worst in the LGBT according to the 2011 Bi Invisibility Report which found Bisexual men were 50% more likely to live in poverty than gay men. Unfortunately bisexuality is seriously underfunded with a Funders for LGBTQ Issues report finding that only 1% of overall LGBT funding is given to bisexuality.
The truth is it’s not all bad, having little history to inspire you also means there is no history to constrain you. We as bi people have the opportunity to write our own ticket, to define bisexuality the way we want to define it. We live in the shadow of no one, we simply have to overcome these faceless accusations that we are greedy closeted gay men struggling to accept ourselves.
To my fellow bisexuals I say stand strong, get ready to face the ignorance and maybe in 20 years a generation of bi people will have us to discuss in LGBT History Month.
This week we are hosting a mini-series from our blogging community on the LGBTQ+ figures who have been the biggest inspiration for them.