Among non-heteronormative sexual practices, bisexuality is an orientation that is still not widely understood and accepted – neither by heterosexuals nor by homosexuals. Often, bisexuality is related to infidelity and lack of affective responsibility. There are still people who avoid having relationships with those who define themselves as bisexual. This vision reveals the biphobia that perpetuates in society and must be fought.
But what exactly is biphobia?
According to a study developed by researchers at UFSC, the term biphobia was coined “to refer to specific discrimination directed at people who understand themselves as bisexual”. In this sense, biphobia is related to the “invisibility and delegitimation of bisexual experiences”.
Despite bisexuality being an experience commonly experienced by bisexual people, there are those who question its legitimacy, since, in theory, bisexual people would only suffer prejudice from society in general when they are in a relationship with people of the same sex – which is wrong.
This double prejudice exists because society, in general, has a monosexual mindset, that is, it believes that people can only be attracted to a single sexual gender, not being able to transit between heterosexual and homosexual attraction. However, if we consider, from the Kinsey scale, that sexuality is much more a gradient than fixed formats of attraction, the transit between the possible – and therefore legitimate – forms of attraction between human beings are as varied as this scale can be varied and wide.
Examples of biphobia
If you can’t imagine how biphobia presents itself in practice, here are some examples for you to identify (perhaps in your own behavior) and avoid.
- Thinking that the bisexual person acts out of convenience: a clear example of this form of prejudice happened in the BBB 2021 edition, when Lucas Penteado’s bisexuality was questioned as being something “convenient” or even as a game strategy. The pressure on the boy was so intense that he ended up abandoning the reality show.
- “Bisexuals Cheat More”: There is a misconception that bisexual people “want everyone” and, therefore, would be less faithful. However, fidelity and loyalty have nothing to do with sexual orientation: there are very faithful hetero and homosexual people, others not so much, and this is not related to the gender to which the person is attracted.
- Bisexuality is indecision: another prejudice that exists in relation to bisexuals is that their orientation would be the result of indecision. Nothing could be more wrong. It’s not that the person doesn’t know what he likes: it’s that it’s not the genitals that the person has that defines the attraction that the bisexual feels, he can even be interested in men and women for different reasons, without it being indecision. For the bisexual person, people are people, regardless of gender.
- Saying that the person wants to be with everyone: at the same time, just because a bisexual person is attracted to both men and women does not mean he is attracted to ALL men and ALL women. As already stated, the only issue is that the genitals are not the defining element of attraction.
- “Bisexual is only good for hooking up, because he doesn’t date”: another misconception, since bisexual people are not all the same. There are those who want a fairytale romance and those who prefer more fluid relationships – just like in people of any other orientation. It is not bisexuality that defines the interest (or lack of it) in close and lasting relationships.
- Bisexual is “heteroconvenient”: many homosexual people judge bisexuality as “heteroconvenient”, that is, as if the true orientation – perhaps homosexual – was socially hidden so that the bisexual person would not suffer from the homophobia that exists in society. It is known that many times homosexual people end up going through this type of experience, but, apart from that, bisexuality exists by itself, it is a different sexual orientation. And bisexual people don’t stop being bisexual because they are accepted or not. It’s a matter of desire.
- Bisexuals do not suffer as much as homosexuals: first of all, it is wrong to make this kind of “competition” about who suffers the most, because there are several intersections that need to be considered, since society is loaded with prejudices of all kinds. The important thing here is to know that the bisexual person suffers prejudice, yes, and sometimes both from people who attack the LGBTQIA+ community and from members of that same community.
There is still a lot to be done in relation to biphobia, and there is still a lot to learn and clarify. The key is to always try to put yourself in the other’s shoes and have empathy, because no one knows the other’s pain like he does. Check out, below, some tips to fight biphobia and build a more egalitarian and receptive society.
How to fight biphobia
Like racism, transphobia and homophobia, biphobia is also something that is ingrained in social thinking and needs time and constant effort to overcome. Some tips to combat this type of prejudice are:
It is common for people to have wrong views of what they do not know. In this sense, researching and delving into the subjects before forming an opinion about them can save you from having prejudiced positions – and this not only in relation to bisexuality but in relation to any other topic that is unknown to you and, at the same time, be a little controversial. So, before giving your opinion, do your research.
Talking to those who live or have lived a certain experience in practice is also another good way to avoid prejudice and misguided views. People are always willing to share their experience with anyone who is truly interested. So, before pointing the finger and judging, talk and understand each person’s experience.
3. Remember the world is diverse
People are different and just because a definition works for one doesn’t mean it will work for another. The beauty of the world is knowing that, although it is possible to group individuals into groups based on their similarities, each person is a universe. Don’t judge a person by what you know about another.
Whenever you are going to say or do something that could affect someone else, stop and think: would I like to hear this about myself? Putting oneself in the other’s shoes is a very important skill for the development of solidarity, and it must be constantly exercised, since our society tends to call people to look only at themselves. Allow yourself to look at the other, have empathy!
Even when you don’t agree with someone else’s behavior, respect it. Everyone must have the freedom to be what they are, within that rule: “your freedom ends when the other’s begins”. Accept that everyone has the full right to exercise their own freedom within their own space and celebrate: this is democracy, this is freedom, this is respect!
The path to overcome the prejudices that exist in our society is arduous and thorny. Despite this, if everyone does their part, reflecting, questioning, respecting the place of the other, soon the reality can be very different from the current one. If you are willing to rethink your prejudices, how about also reflecting on transphobia and understanding that sexuality and gender identity are much broader ranges than you imagined?
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