Today is World Bisexual Visibility Day. It may be a good time to reflect on what bisexual means. Well, bisexual, as one deciphers from the very term, is someone who could feel romantic love towards both the populous genders – male and female. Only few people know that “bisexuality” is a large spectrum and that it is also important to recognise orientations such as pansexuality, omnisexuality and polysexuality that are vaguely similar to bisexuality to varying degrees.
Bisexual people are misunderstood as gay or lesbian persons in denial, or straight persons that are confused or going through a phase, or even worse, just sexual deviants. This misconception and non-acknowledgement of their kind is a cause of great distress among these individuals.
I have been through many profiles on gay dating sites that read – “Bisexuals – don’t contact”. I have had women say, “he will after all leave me if he gets a good cock to suck”. While people all around the world, his friends, his family, his associates either tell him directly that “he will marry a woman, he feels attracted to them”, just as his gay brethren despise him. He is often stuck between the devil and deep sea, with little support to sail smoothly in the ship of sanity.
He belongs to the gender that is stereotyped as the oppressor and a sexuality that is often mocked as “confused”.
Speaking about confusion, one has to admit, confused, the world is as hell when we are trying to fit in the hetero-normative norms of a man-love-woman/woman-love-man. I thought I was bisexual, and so did many of my gay friends at one such stage in life. We all went through the rigmarole of dating a girl, some even having sex with a woman to realise that it is not working out.
Maybe that’s the reason why gay men feel that even out-and-proud bisexual men would after all come out as gay one day, or be gay and still marry a woman using bisexuality as a pretext, thereby sabotaging the love affairs with their male lovers. This kind of blanket stereotyping is what is baffling.
I have interacted with many bisexual men and I can vouch that bisexual men are generally credited as equally good partners, lovers and fathers.
Bisexual women stand more of a chance to be ostracised. While we could cite many remarkable women, it is true that the average woman in India, do get a raw deal.
The chances are almost certain that in some families that the woman would be thrown into a rape by a man their parents arrange for her, in the name of forced arranged marriage. Again, she will be told the same thing “after all you can also love a man”.
I don’t know how it is assumed that if you love a man, you would love all men. Or if you would love a woman, you would love all women. It is about choices you make, and not all fall in love with all. We get attracted to some, not all. But where women are denied the basic right of her sexuality, bisexual rights may seem more like a dream.
Sometimes things turn worse for bisexuals. They are misconstrued as wanting to seem cool, when, in fact there is nothing cool about being bisexual.
It is just a sexual orientation. No one chooses it so much as being born with it.
Then they are asked not to endorse their sexuality, but why? Why can’t people be comfortable with their sexuality? Yes, they are bisexual, and yes, they are proud, as proud as any man would be or would not be about his or her or hir sexuality. But they say that because there are many persons in their community who are misunderstood and ostracised by the larger community. At least gay persons are unaccepted only by the straight communities but are completely welcomed among queer groups; but even in these groups, where bisexuals are supposed to belong, they are unwelcome.
I’d say that the most disturbing understanding of bisexuals is that they are open to threesomes. Threesomes are completely fine, but they are individuals’ choices. One can’t just assume that someone is desperate or willing to partake in it due to their bisexuality. Women, especially, are subjected to this misconception. To validate, one could refer to ‘one man two women’ bi-sex action. It is a hit on xvideos.
Let’s speak of vulnerability.
I researched the internet. Bisexuals are more likely to suffer violence at the hands of intimate partners than their gay and straight counterparts. Bisexual women, especially, are more likely to be sexually assaulted. Bisexual women are more likely than lesbians to struggle with depression, have eating disorders and indulge in substance abuse.
While there are many psychiatrists and mental health facilities available to homosexual men and women, I have heard many a psychologist tell their clients that they need to choose between the binary of gay and straight. Bisexual individuals, sadly, are not recognised and acknowledged even by mental health professionals. There is a lack of community forums for bisexual persons. Likewise, there are much fewer bisexual activists to create awareness as of today compared to their gay counterparts in our country. I can only name just Sonal Giani here confidently without even seeking her approval. There is a desperate call to recognise and identify the bisexual population in our country. Issues faced by them, otherwise, are hard to tackle in India, and to tackle these is important.
And don’t believe me? Hear it from the celebrity. No, it is not Angelina Jolie who is rumoured /is bisexual. Actor Evan Rachel Wood has a powerful message for you.
And do visit www.bivisibilityday.com for some startling facts on bisexuality.
(Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist working for the rights of the LGBT community, women, children and animals. ‘Rainbow Man’ is Harish’s regular blog for The Quint)