How to Fight Back Against Bisexual Erasure Through Allyship

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Bisexual erasure, also known as bisexual invisibility, refers to when the validity of bisexuality as a sexual identity is denied or brought into question. Bisexual erasure manifests on a societal level for multiple reasons: lack of visibility and representation, spreading of stereotypes and inaccurate information etc. On an individual level, a person’s bisexuality may be questioned by those close to them, who often refuse to acknowledge there are other sexual orientations than gay or straight. 

This article aims to help you identify cases of bisexual erasure in daily life, media, and beyond, and offer tips on how you can be an ally to bisexual people.

Bisexual Erasure in Daily Life

You may have been subject to, or overheard, tired, inaccurate tropes presenting bisexuality as an intentional mask for homosexuality or the first stage of acceptance on the towards admitting you’re gay.

Some harmful stereotypes are perpetuated without intention. People sometimes make assumptions depending on your dating and sexual history or current partner. Others may entirely dismiss your bisexuality based on your current partner, referring to you as straight if you are in a heterosexual relationship. This is a major oversight.

When it comes to bisexual dating, people can experience discrimination from either side. For example, a potential partner may obsess over your attraction to a gender that’s different from theirs. This could be in the form of mistrust and jealousy.

Bisexual Erasure of Celebrities and Public Figures

People like Whitney Houston, who live their lives in the public eye are often subject to severe scrutiny. Rumors concerning her relationship with friend and assistant Robyn Crawford sparked international gossip, with countless stories making it onto magazines and TV. 

Whitney’s relationship with Robyn Crawford, while repeatedly denied by immediate family, is detailed in Crawford’s book “A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston”.

In Whitney’s case, her family has attempted to erase her bisexuality by claiming she has always been hetereosexual. Meanwhile, the media have sought to paint her as a closeted lesbian.

Bisexual Erasure in Movies & TV

Freddy Mercury’s portrayal in Bohemian Rhapsody has been heavily criticized and is a great example of bisexual erasure in media. While the movie captures Freddie’s significant relationship with Mary Austin, his relationships with other women, such as Barbara Valentin, are overlooked. Instead, the plot focuses on Freddie’s attraction to men, often in a hedonistic and tumultuous context.

One scene even shows Freddy talking with Mary, admitting to her that he might be bisexual, to which she responds with, “Freddie, you’re gay”. Whether this was an intentional oversight or not, the damage is done. The movie, which reached audiences globally, misrepresents the real story of a bisexual icon.

Bisexual Erasure in Music

Artists also struggle with bi erasure and biphobia. For example, some fans question whether artists are lying about their sexuality for benefits such as reaching new audiences, media attention etc. Explicit evidence is often demanded of them in order to “prove” they are as they say, with their public dating history and previously-released music being put under microscopic analysis. 

This happened in 2018 when Rita Ora, Cardi B and Bebe Rexha collaborated on a song called “Girls”. The song sparked controversy and led to claims of “queerbaiting”, essentially forcing the artists to come out and confirm they have had sexual experiences with women.

How to Be an Ally to Bisexual People

Allyship can take many forms, from offering support to the bisexual people in your life to being a fierce defender of the community.

  1. Stop assuming people are straight, whether it’s your best friend or a complete stranger. People you think you know better than anyone may end up surprising you because sexuality is fluid, not fixed. Some people take a while to come out, others only discover things about themselves later in life.
  2. Make an effort to re-affirm someone’s identity. For example, send them a message on Bi Visibility Day.
  3. If you happen to be around others when bisexuality is questioned or referred to inaccurately, be sure to dispute those claims.
  4. Remember, identities, such as bisexuality, aren’t fixed definitations and can vary from person to person based on their individual understanding. Accept and respect how the individual identifies.
  5. Consider your own prejudice and ensure your dating preferences don’t exclude bisexual people.
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