Biphobia: what it is, characteristics, examples and how to overcome it

Although progress has been made on LGTBI+ rights, there is still a long way to go. Lesbians, gays, transsexuals and bisexuals continue to face stigma and victimization today.

Focusing on bisexual people, many still see them as semi-straight gay, people going through a phase or experimenting with their sexuality, with some believing that bisexuality does not exist but is a product of the confusion of those who say they are attracted to both sexes.

These and many other ideas are discriminatory and constitute biphobia. Let’s take a closer look at what it is, how it manifests, and what we can do if we are bisexual people who deny our own sexuality.

    What is biphobia?

    biphobia is discrimination against bisexual or “bi” people who are romantically and erotically attracted to individuals of both sexes. Biphobic behaviors range from unfavorable attitudes towards bisexual people to violence in the form of harassment, bullying, and aggression. Biphobia is based on emotions such as contempt, fear and hatred of bi people, and leads to behaviors of exclusion and denial of bi reality.

    To understand more deeply what biphobia is, we need to discuss some key ideas about bisexuality. This is defined as the romantic, erotic and sexual attraction of men and women.

    Although colloquially defined as attraction to both men and women, it is best to speak in terms of sex and not gender because, within bisexuality, attraction to non-binary people and transgender people would also be included. Some think that it would in fact be pansexuality, a subject of wide debate that we will not address here.

    A bisexual person can form several types of relationships:

    • Bi man + woman = straight relationship
    • Relationship bi man + man = homo
    • Bi woman + woman = homo relationship
    • Bi woman + man = straight relationship

    Regardless of the type of relationship, the bisexual person will continue to be, no matter who they date. Don’t change your mind about having more straight or more gay relationships. Unfortunately, ignorance of this reality leads people to hold a whole host of erroneous and irrational beliefs about how bisexual people are.

    While much progress has been made in the rights of the LGTBI+ community, the truth is that discriminatory behavior towards its members continues today. Although bisexuals have made great strides in recognizing their sexuality, they have not been as visible as gays and lesbians. In reality Bisexuals are often victims of double discrimination: on the one hand for heterosexuals and, on the other hand, for homosexuals.

    On the heterosexual side, bisexuals are seen as confused people, who are going through a phase and experimenting with their sexuality and who, sooner or later, will pass it on and return to heteronormality. On the homosexual side, bisexuals are seen as people who have not yet accepted their homosexuality, who are going through a transition phase, even who are repressed homosexuals, homophobes who do not want to recognize themselves as gay or lesbian, and they show themselves to the world as if they were “half-straight” so as not to disappoint their family.

    Such ideas and attitudes towards bisexuality are biphobic. Failing to recognize the possibility that a person may feel romantic and erotic attraction to both men and women is discriminatory behavior, whether out of ignorance or fully consciously. The only thing bisexuals want is being able to love freely and be accepted by societyand especially for non-heteronormative people because in the end they are also part of the collective.

      Examples of Biphobia

      Some correctly biphobic behaviors are:

      • Reject, discriminate, cancel and silence bisexuality through actions, words and gestures.
      • Actively defend that bisexuality is unnatural or illogical.
      • Blaming bisexuals for transmitting harmful sexually transmitted diseases (for example, transferring HIV from homosexuals to heterosexuals)
      • Believing that attraction can only be felt towards the opposite sex (would include homophobia).
      • Believing that attraction can only be felt towards one sex or the other.
      • Believing that bisexuality is actually a phase, the result of a lack of clear sexual identity.
      • Forcing a person to identify as heterosexual or homosexual.

      Misconceptions about bisexuality

      The ideas we will see below, although often stemming from ignorance, are still biphobic ideas that contribute to the stigmatization and discrimination of bisexual people.

      1. 50% men and 50% women

      One of the biggest misconceptions about bisexuals is that 50% like men and 50% like women.. This does not have to be the case, and in fact in most cases it is not fulfilled. It is true that bisexual people are attracted to both sexes, but that does not mean that they do not have a certain preference for one of them.

      There are bisexual people who are more attracted to women than to men, and vice versa. Bisexuality is not the fact that you like men and women equally, but you can be attracted to both genders. So, talking about percentages, someone who likes men and women 50/50 is just as bisexual as someone who prefers them 80/20 or 25/75.

      Besides, these percentages may change over a lifetime. There will be times when a bisexual person prefers to have sex with men and others will prefer to have sex with women, without ceasing to be bisexual because of it.

        2. They have unstable relationships and seek threesomes

        Bisexual relationships can be as unstable as homosexual and heterosexual relationships. What determines the stability, quality and duration of a relationship is not the sexuality of its membersbut many other aspects that have little or nothing to do with whether you are bisexual or not.

        It should also be noted that bisexual people do not seek out threesomes just because they are bisexual. They may feel the same curiosity and interest in having sex with two people at the same time as a straight or gay person. Bisexual people do not feel incomplete or dissatisfied with being in a monogamous relationship with either a man or a woman.

        3. Sexuality is dichotomous

        Many have a dichotomous view of sexuality: either you are straight or you are gay. In this white or black mentality, in which there are no shades of gray, there are also no bisexual people. Those who still believe that sexuality is like that show a very contrasting mentality.

        4. Bisexuality is not compatible with monogamy

        There are those who believe that bisexuality is impossible in a monogamous culture. In Western societies, for example, we tend to have only one relationship at a time. Having a single relationship doesn’t mean a bisexual person will play in two bands. or having an incomplete sex life so as not to have a man and a woman in your life. Being bisexual doesn’t mean being unable to commit either.

        5. The myth of transition or confusion

        One of the most common myths about bisexuality is that it’s actually a phase, that they are just experimenting and trying new things and at some point they will get tired. Others see it in the opposite direction, which is the obligatory passage between heterosexuality and homosexuality, and that in reality someone who is bisexual is a repressed homosexual who has not yet aware that he is gay or lesbian.

        Viewed as a midpoint or an experimental phase, the truth is that bisexuality is neither. Bisexuality is a reality and whether you like men or women more, being more or less attracted to both makes you bisexual and the healthiest thing is to embrace it and enjoy it freely.

          6. Bisexuality is a modern fad

          One of the simplest arguments about bisexuality, as well as other sexual orientations and gender identities, is that it’s a modern fad that will die out at some point. Many people see it as a product of globalization and mass mediadefending the idea that each time a famous bisexual comes out, young people imitate him and say that they are too.

          It should not be so fashionable if since ancient times there is evidence of historical figures who had “affairs” with both men and women. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, Francis Bacon, Lord Byron, Emiliano Zapata, Virginia Woolf, and Hans Christian Andersen, among many others, are historical figures who are bisexual or suspected of having sexual relations. .

          We must not forget Alfred Kinsey, the inventor of the Kinsey scale of sexuality in which he does not conceive of sexuality as something white or black, hetero or homosexual. As he himself knew that sexuality is not a dichotomous thing, but a continuum, he designed a scale on which one can freely situate oneself according to what one prefers. Thanks to his work, we now understand much better what it means to be heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual.

          7. Bisexuals love everything without filters.

          Another common myth is that bi like everything without filters.. It is the belief that any type of person is suitable for everyone, absolutely for all women and all men, without having any standards or preferences. You get the impression that they are vicious, that he gives them everything without consideration. This is a lie. Just as heterosexuals, gays and lesbians don’t like all men and women, so do bisexuals.

            Denial: When we deny that we are bi

            Due to the many myths that still exist about bisexuality and the double discrimination it suffers from, many people may deny that they are, hiding it and convincing themselves that they are only going through one stage. The process is similar to when it is not accepted that you are gay, except that between bi people one can fall into the idea that, since one has a preference for people of the opposite sex, sooner or later they will cease to be confused and will become “normal” people again.i.e. heterosexuals.

            To be bisexual and to be repressed is to condemn ourselves to not assimilating our love life in an integral, full and satisfactory way. There are many ways to hide this reality, including in the form of having heterosexual relationships to hide the fact that we like people of the same sex too. There are also cases of people who are in same-sex relationships and fear that if they date people of the opposite sex, they will be accused of playing twosome or being repressed gays or lesbians.

            Bisexuality is completely natural, as are homosexuality, heterosexuality and asexuality. Being bisexual is not immoral, vicious, promiscuous, or a sign of unclear thinking. Everyone is free to fully live their sexuality, and this requires stopping the fight against themselves. If someone around us rejects us because bi, it’s because they didn’t deserve to be by our side. Love yourself above others.

            How to manage and overcome internalized biphobia?

            To overcome internalized biphobia, it is essential to follow these steps:

            • Stop believing the myths we have seen.
            • Naturalize bisexuality.
            • Refute the biphobic beliefs people around us may have.
            • Claim the rights of this group and other LGTBI+ groups.

            No one should judge us for wanting to sleep with men and women. We have every right in the world to form a relationship or family with the people we love, regardless of gender, sex, or gender identity.

            Bibliographic references

            • Bullough, VL (2004). Sex Will Never Be the Same: Contributions by Alfred C. Kinsey. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 33 (3): 277–286.
            • CEAR Madrid Sexual and Gender Identities and Diversity Team (LGTBIQ+). (2021) Spanish Refugee Aid Commission. Spain.
            • Galupo, MP (2014). Reflections on Sexual Minorities on the Kinsey Scale and Klein’s Sexual Orientation Grid: Conceptualization and Measurement. Journal of Bisexuality. 14 (3–4): 404–432.
            • Kinsey, AC, Pomery, WB; Martin, CE (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
            • Martínez M. (2018) Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia: Expressions of intolerance. Capital of Psychologists in Madrid. Spain. Excerpt from Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia: Expressions of Intolerance – Aesthetic Psychologists Madrid.
            • Rosario, M.; Schrimshaw, E.; Hunter, J.; Braun, L. (2006). Development of sexual identity among young lesbians, gays and bisexuals: consistency and evolution over time. Journal of Sex Research. 43 (1): p. 46 – 58.

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