Biphobia is an aversion towards people who identify as bisexual, often seen in forms of invalidating their sexuality or simply taking their sexuality less seriously, especially if someone who identifies as bisexual is in a hetero or homosexual monogamous relationship.
The global community has become much more accepting of people in the LGBTQ+ community over the past ten years; however, there are still issues with acceptance of people’s sexuality both inside and outside of the community.
Bayleigh is a first-year student at the University of King’s College who identifies as bisexual. She’s declined to provide her last name for safety. Bayleigh also hosts an LGBTQ+ radio show on CKDU: Let it Out.
“Gender binary is reinforced both from the LGBTQ+ community and cis-straight people. They pressure people who are bisexual to pick a side,” she said.
While this is a modern-day issue, it’s rooted in the past. According to Ezra Tennen, the first-year representative for the Pride Society at the University of King’s College.
Biphobia rooted in social pressure.
“For so much of history you couldn’t have sexual variants, so that puts a lot of pressure on people to be straight,” he said.
The pressure of ‘picking a side’ is something many people who identify as bisexual hear once they come out. Bayleigh says her experience of coming out as bisexual was an unfortunately common one.
“I was open about it. I think a lot of people didn’t take it seriously because I was dating a guy at the time,” she says.
She felt her sexuality was invalidated because she was in a heterosexual relationship, so to others she was simply straight.
“My boyfriend at the time offered a passive invalidation. He was not jealous when I was around girls the way he was when I was around men – he didn’t take my sexuality as seriously,” she said. “Many people see being bisexual as a transitional stage. There is a stereotype that bisexual women haven’t found the right man, and bisexual men are too scared to fully come out.”
Bisexuality may be a transitional phase for some, but Bayleigh says the majority of bisexual people she knows are not transitioning anywhere – they’re just bisexual.
She says that the vast majority of people in the LGBTQ+ community are very open and supportive of people’s choices, but “some people are so set in being queer as part of their identity they see bisexual as being halfway out.”
“Invalidation leads to internalized biphobia, because maybe you’ve never been with somebody of the same gender,” she continued. “You think, ‘I’m not really bi and I’m lying to myself.’ Or feeling scared to date someone of the opposite gender because it means you aren’t bi anymore. But it is something that you always are. Who you’re dating doesn’t determine your attraction.”