We know bisexual erasure is real. The San Francisco Human Rights Commission published a detailed report addressing it. Meta-analysis of published medical literature shows a stark difference between the number of articles that use the term bisexual and those that actually analyze or discuss it. Bisexual erasure even has its own Wikipedia page. We know it exists because we know what people say, over and over, when we try to come out.
What I didn’t know was how pervasive it is, how few resources exist for individuals, health care providers, researchers, anyone.
Search for “bisexual” on cdc.gov, and it returns 1520 results. That’s respectable. Hard to complain. Except those results aren’t real. After a few pages of seeing “bisexual” only in the context of the larger LGBT community or in the phrase “gay and bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” I looked closer.
Of the first thousand results for “bisexual,” five address bisexuals separately from other groups. Five.
Those five aren’t stellar, either. None is a useful resource for individuals or healthcare providers. One explicitly chooses to refer to women who have sex with women as lesbians regardless of their self-identity or behavior with men. And my favorite exists only to warn straight women of the dangers of bi men:
The page about stigma for gay and bisexual men talks about homophobia. It talks about same sex relationships and legal rights.
It doesn’t say a word about biphobia. It doesn’t mention the struggle of coming out and being told you’re wrong, you don’t exist, you’re lying. It doesn’t address that bisexuals are stigmatized by gay communities as well as straight. It doesn’t talk about the higher rates of intimate partner violence bisexuals experience.
And people don’t think it matters. They derail. “What is on that page is important, it’s a useful resource!” Yes, it is. For gay people. For those aspects of the law that affect bi and gay folk similarly. But it is not a page for gay and bisexual men. It is a page for gay men. It assumes bi men are just men with a gay half that can use those resources and a straight half that doesn’t need them. Either that or it’s just paying lip service and doesn’t actually acknowledge bi folk exist.
This is important. We need resources, acknowledgement, information. We don’t need these things because there’s something wrong with us, we need them because we’re human and everyone does. Gay and lesbian needs are finally being taken seriously. Not enough and not by everyone, but it’s happening. That’s fantastic. What’s not okay is tacking “bisexual” on as an afterthought to the name without seeing if what’s offered is helpful or useless or even actively harms us and telling us to be grateful to be included at all.
I’ve e-mailed the CDC about this. They’ve not responded. But I’d like to note it’s not just them. The NIH, APA, and WHO resources appear at first glance just as likely to elide bisexuality into the LGBT or “gay and-” label. I just don’t have the graph porn finished to show it yet.