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Not ‘rigidly defined’: Bisexual people still fight to overcome stereotypes, stigma

To the surface world, Greg is a person’s man with a home within the suburbs and a job within the province’s power business. Tall and outgoing with a gruff, masculine voice, to satisfy him one wouldn’t instantly assume he was something aside from straight.

“So far as most individuals know, I’m a straight dude,” stated the Alberta man in his mid-40s, whose identify International Information has agreed to alter as a result of he’s solely open about his bisexuality in a single space of his life.

“I’ve a spouse and I’ve a girlfriend — as a result of most individuals find out about her as nicely.”

Greg is a part of Alberta’s ethically non-monogamous, polyamorous and swinging communities and helps run a personal, on-line group of about 3,000 like-minded individuals in Western Canada.

However he’s additionally bisexual – one thing that even some individuals within the above-mentioned sex-positive communities have had bother accepting.

He advised International Information that listening to hurtful feedback about bisexual males at a celebration, coming from a buddy he had been intimately concerned with, was a part of his choice to return out in that group.


“To have any person who I had been sexually hooked up to, to start out saying, ‘Effectively, I might by no means be with a bi man as a result of they’re gross and so they’re promiscuous’ and all of those kind of issues whereas I’m there holding my tongue. I’m a kind of individuals, and I’m not a kind of issues that you simply’re categorizing them as.

“That was the push for me to be like, ‘OK, so if that is what individuals assume a bisexual man is, then I’m going to attempt to bust that stigma.’”

He credit his relationship along with his spouse as the most important cause for being snug along with his bisexuality. They’ve been mates since kindergarten and a pair since Grade 10. Now, the polyamorous couple is in a triad relationship with one other girl.

Greg, a bisexual man from Alberta who got here out 4 years in the past to his ENM Way of life group.

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Greg stated he was anxious about receiving detrimental feedback whereas popping out just a few years in the past.

“I’ve a delicate aspect, however I used to be anxious about the truth that in our group now I used to be going to be seen female due to altering the tag of who I’m as a sexual particular person,” he advised International, noting that it was “fairly the alternative, really.”

“You do you and if that makes you cheerful, then all the ability to you and I’m completely satisfied for you — simply don’t inform me that what I’m doing is fallacious and we’ll be good.”

Different members of the bi group additionally expressed worries about how they’d be seen when popping out.

Biphobia and erasure — how stereotypes are dangerous

Bisexual individuals may be excluded or seen as invisible inside 2SLGBTQQIA+ areas and conversations — neither straight nor homosexual sufficient for both group.

One other massive assumption researchers have famous: bisexual persons are typically assumed to be straight or homosexual based mostly on the gender of the particular person they’re at the moment relationship or married to. That is referred to as bi-erasure.

“Except you’re actually having a number of relationships in polyamorous group, lots of people determine or assume individuals’s orientations based mostly on the relationships they at the moment have,” stated Elizabeth Saewyc, who’s head of nursing on the College of British Columbia and has researched bisexual youth for almost three a long time.

College of British Columbia Faculty of Nursing director and bisexual researcher Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc.

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“Somebody may be like, ‘I’m the very same particular person, however relying on who I’m relationship, you understand, completely different areas are welcome or out there to me — or not.’ And that’s a traumatic and tough factor to face,” Cheryl Dobinson, a Toronto-based researcher who can also be bisexual, stated.

“Some individuals actually wish to know who’re you extra drawn to, or what share, and if you happen to’re not attracted 50/50, you’re not really bi.”

Learn extra:

Asexuality is not a ‘symptom’ — Asexual Canadians fight to dispel harmful misconceptions

One other problem is individuals who assume bisexuality isn’t legitimate or respectable, Dobinson defined, saying individuals assume “it’s people who find themselves confused and in transition and ultimately will come to a realization of being both homosexual or straight.”

“So it’s type of diminishing and minimizing bisexuality.”

The identical goes for pansexuality, which is having an attraction to individuals no matter their gender, versus two.

Many individuals additionally take care of biphobia, each in straight and homosexual communities.

“You’re not accepted in both place and that kind of biphobia may imply that persons are much less keen to be in relationships with you. There’s numerous stereotypes and numerous misunderstanding about bisexual sights,” stated Saewyc.

“Our society isn’t actually good at ambiguity and desires these rigidly outlined bins to place everyone in.”

Click to play video: 'What is biphobia and bisexual erasure? Explaining the harmful stereotypes, stigmas bisexual people face'

What’s biphobia and bisexual erasure? Explaining the dangerous stereotypes, stigmas bisexual individuals face

What’s biphobia and bisexual erasure? Explaining the dangerous stereotypes, stigmas bisexual individuals face

Dobinson skilled these points herself when she got here out as bisexual. She had initially come out as a lesbian when she was 21, however after just a few years realized her sexuality was extra nuanced.

She says whereas some individuals in her life had been supportive, others within the lesbian group questioned her second popping out.

“My straight mates and folk had been like, OK, when you’re queer, it doesn’t essentially make an entire lot of distinction what flavour it’s.”

However she stated she was questioned by one buddy particularly who struggled to simply accept her as bi: “We had numerous battle and he or she’d, like, actually problem that this might like exist as an identification.”

Cheryl Dobinson, a Toronto-based bisexual researcher and member of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ group.

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Of all of the people who find themselves a part of the queer group in Canada, Dobinson stated about half of them determine as bisexual. On the subject of younger individuals, Saewyc stated extra queer youth determine as bisexual or pansexual than homosexual or lesbian.

“That’s usually actually shocking to people who assume that perhaps bisexual is sort of a very tiny quantity or a share of queer inhabitants,” Dobinson stated.

Everybody desires a bisexual girl — however gained’t settle for a bi man

There are additionally distinctive challenges between genders: Dobinson stated bisexual ladies are typically fetishized, whereas bi males are scorned.

“There is usually a very intense over-sexualization of bisexual ladies particularly, as type of objects of fantasy and need and really eroticized for sexual functions — whereas on the identical time not being seen as fascinating as romantic or long-term companions.”

In the meantime, Dobinson stated in relation to males, there are dangerous stereotypes that bisexual males will transmit illnesses between the straight and homosexual communities.

Avoiding getting used to fulfill another person’s sexual want listing is one other minefield some bisexual individuals should navigate as they search out significant relationships.

Learn extra:

Two-spirited Indigenous girls inspire others to be themselves

Inside the swinging group, single bisexual ladies are referred to as “unicorns” and single bi males are known as a “Pegasus” due to their perceived rarity.

Whereas there are a lot of {couples} who search so as to add bisexual singles to their relationships in a optimistic, moral approach, there are additionally those that go about it in a predatory method.

“Unicorn looking” is a time period locally for many who search out a bi girl or man as a racy addition to their lives, typically in objectifying, dehumanizing ways in which don’t take into accounts the only’s needs or wants.

One other dangerous stigma bi and pansexual individuals of all genders face: the concept they’re promiscuous, untrustworthy and incapable of loyalty in relationships.

Learn extra:

Being Two-Spirit and trans in Canada — How colonization shaped the way we view gender diversity

“Bisexual individuals and pansexual persons are simply as able to having dedicated relationships as others are or aren’t, because the case could also be,” Saewyc stated.

Analysis reveals bisexual individuals can and do take part in wholesome, dedicated intimate relationships which might be typically, however not all the time, monogamous.

Click to play video: 'Are bi guys promiscuous? Stereotypes leave bisexual people excluded from straight & 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities'

Are bi guys promiscuous? Stereotypes depart bisexual individuals excluded from straight & 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities

Are bi guys promiscuous? Stereotypes depart bisexual individuals excluded from straight & 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities

The significance of household, buddy and group help when popping out

Greg stated as soon as he got here out to his way of life group 4 years in the past and talked concerning the significance of breaking down stigmas, he was overwhelmed with help.

“It was vastly optimistic — like, massively optimistic,” Greg stated. “Different males inside our group reaching out and saying, ‘Wow, I’ve wished to say that for years.’

“We’re attempting to knock down a few of the stereotypes or the stigmas which might be hooked up to guys which might be thought of bisexual. That was the most important half for me.

“A few of the optimistic messages that I obtained from different guys by far exceeded any concern that I had in talking my reality.”

Kayla Christenson, 34, is pansexual and the director of communications at Pflag Canada.


Pflag Canada is a volunteer-run nationwide group with greater than 40 chapters throughout Canada that gives training and assets for household and mates of queer individuals.

It’s a spot for folks, particularly, to discover ways to be the most effective ally for his or her youngsters, stated Pflag’s director of communications, Kayla Christenson, 34, who’s pansexual.

Her sister can also be queer and stated her mother and father didn’t produce other mates who might relate.

“As a queer one who has mother and father which have gone by way of two children popping out, I believe it’s actually useful to satisfy different mother and father who perceive.”

Christenson stated she knew she wasn’t straight, however didn’t have the language to articulate how she recognized till she was an grownup.

“I had a tough time feeling like I might discover a small nook of area within the queer group to really feel like, ‘Whats up, I’m right here and I’m queer, and like, please consider me!’”

Christenson stated extra illustration in motion pictures, tv, music and different mass media has helped validate the existence of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

Click to play video: 'Bisexual man’s coming out advice: ‘You’d be shocked at how much support you’re going to get’'

Bisexual man’s popping out recommendation: ‘You’d be shocked at how a lot help you’re going to get’

Bisexual man’s popping out recommendation: ‘You’d be shocked at how a lot help you’re going to get’

Greg, Christenson, Dobinson and Saewyc all agreed, saying there are extra helps now than ever earlier than for individuals to return out.

Greg says everybody ought to dwell to their very own consolation stage and for him, meaning he doesn’t really feel the necessity to inform your entire world what occurs behind closed doorways with consenting adults.

For that cause, he’s not open about his bisexuality with most of the people.

“I’m proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ group and I’m completely satisfied to be part of it,” Greg stated.

“However for me, it doesn’t should be shouted from the rooftops. It was simply shouted from the rooftop the place it mattered.”

Poor well being outcomes amongst bisexual individuals present there’s room for enchancment

Whereas Greg and his spouse had an general optimistic popping out expertise, not everyone seems to be so fortunate.

Analysis in Canada has proven bisexual individuals have worse well being outcomes, particularly psychological well being outcomes, than individuals who determine as both homosexual or straight.

“Analysis from the Canadian Community Health Survey confirmed fairly dramatically increased charges of suicidality for each bisexual women and men in comparison with homosexual males and lesbians, who had increased charges than heterosexual people. However bisexuals by far had the very best charges,” Dobinson stated.

“There’s actually analysis displaying increased charges of hysteria and melancholy, in addition to increased charges of sexually transmitted infections for bisexual women and men in comparison with homosexual males and lesbians.”

Whereas society has made strides in the direction of inclusivity, Saewyc stated younger persons are nonetheless dealing with harassment in faculties throughout Canada — however a detailed help community may help.

Learn extra:

Labelling a lesbian — How stereotypes harm and help the community

“If you happen to’re being bullied or rejected or experiencing violence, however you’ve acquired mates and supportive household or supportive faculties, then this really helps kind of buffer that.”

She added that symbols of group visibility comparable to rainbow sidewalks and Delight celebrations do make a distinction for younger individuals.

Higher training for health-care suppliers is an space the place enchancment might be made, Dobinson stated, including her analysis has discovered persistently that bisexual individuals need their medical doctors to acknowledge their existence as a standalone sexual identification. She stated some in well being care don’t perceive that biphobia in homosexual and lesbian communities exists.

“Referring to a queer group, area or group, it doesn’t essentially imply it’s welcoming to bi people,” Dobinson stated.

“It’s good for them to know the way inclusive these areas are, to have coaching across the sorts of well being disparities and obstacles that bi individuals face.”

Click to play video: 'Progress being made in bisexuality being recognized in Canada, but neutrality is ‘not good enough’'

Progress being made in bisexuality being acknowledged in Canada, however neutrality is ‘not ok’

Progress being made in bisexuality being acknowledged in Canada, however neutrality is ‘not ok’

Within the month of June, International Information is exploring deeper points associated to the 2SLGBTQQIA+ group in our collection, Inside Pride, which appears to be like on the significance of the acronym and the labels it represents.

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