September 16-23 is bisexuality awareness week. Bisexuality is often defined as an identity within the queer community that means attraction to more than one gender. Like with all sexualities, people who identify as bisexual might experience attraction to different genders in different ways, at different times in their lives, and in different degrees.
Though some studies suggest that those identifying as bisexual make up the largest segment of the LGBTQIA+ community, ‘bisexuality’ is often misunderstood and misrepresented, even by other members of the queer community. In some situations, people who are bi are intentionally excluded from queer spaces because of “straight-passing privilege” or because of assumed heterosexuality.
Bierasure and biphobia can show up in a lot of different ways, from stigmatizing bisexuality to jokes or comments that undermine attraction to multiple genders. Both biphobia and bierasure happen inside and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community. People who are bi are often asked to quantify their attraction to other genders, or are forced into other identity categories based on who they’re dating at any given time.
When understanding bisexuality, or any sexual orientation, it’s important to remember that individuals have the power and right to identify their own sexuality. Dating history, current partners, and other characteristics do not define someone’s sexual orientation.
Projects like the Bisexual Resource Center and Still Bisexual are helping end stigma and provide resources for members of the bisexual community. Planned Parenthood Great Plains offers non-judgemental care for all members of the queer community, through services like PrEP and PEP, STI testing and treatment, annual exams, and cancer screenings.