Hannah Michelle Bussa
Bisexual Awareness Week is celebrated annually from Sept. 16-23, ending on Bi+ Visibility Day.
Bisexual Awareness Week, also called Bi Week, was cofounded by GLAAD, the Bisexual Resource Center, and Still Bisexual to accelerate acceptance of the bi+ community, including bisexual, pansexual, fluid, no label, queer people.
Barbara Simon, Head of News and Campaigns at GLAAD, said bisexual people make up 54.6% of the LGBTQ community, but are under-represented in news media coverage and scripted entertainment.
The same Gallup data shows that 11.5% of Gen Z Americans say they are bisexual. 72% of Gen Z adults who identify as LGBTQ+ identify as bisexual.
“Bi+ people are the majority in the LGBTQ community and make up even more LGBTQ people in Generation Z, yet they are under-represented in the media, especially bi+ Black people and other people of color,” she said. “When bi+ people and their experiences are not visible, their experiences and points of view are missing and that can lead to misunderstanding and misinformation.”
These missing points of view, misunderstandings and misinformation are the basis of Bi Week and Bi+ Visibility Day.
“Bi Week and Bi+ Visibility Day are ways to let more people know who bi+ people are,” Simon said. “Bi+ people are our classmates, teachers, family members, neighbors and friends who are welcome and valued. They and their experiences matter. The fact that more Gen Z feels comfortable identifying as LGBT means the environment is safer, if not completely safe, for them to come out and be themselves. We have more work to do to help bi+ people feel safe and seen.”
In Nebraska, State Senator Megan Hunt was the first openly LGBTQIA2S+ person elected to the Nebraska state legislature. She said bi visibility is important, because she has found that bi individuals are often forgotten within the LGBTQ community.
“Our experiences are commonly assumed to be the same as either lesbian, gay or straight experiences or that we are confused about our sexuality,” she said. “Our identities are made invisible or dismissed as something that does not exist—by people both inside and outside of the LGBTQ community. In the past, I have doubted if I had any place in the LGBTQ community after being asked what my ‘true’ sexuality is or being accused of falsely identifying as bisexual.”
This disconnection from the LGBTQ+ community is why Bi+ Week is important.
“Bi visibility is necessary to combat these harmful stereotypes, the invisibility and the lack of belief that bi people truly exist,” Hunt said. “The more exposure people have to bisexual individuals, the more we can begin to destigmatize bisexuality.”
As the first openly bi state senator in Nebraska, Hunt has had a unique experience.
“I didn’t know of or meet any out LGBTQ+ people in politics until I was in my late 20s,” she said. “Now I have the dubious honor of being the first out person in the NE Legislature, which shows what a long way we have to go for equity in representation.”
Hunt said her experience has been focused on destigmatizing her identity for other Nebraskans.
“The more my colleagues see me as a friend, the easier it’s going to be for other LGBTQ people,” she said. “Mentoring, speaking up about our intersections of difference, welcoming those who want to throw their hat in the ring is part of what we can do to help get more LGBTQ people elected.”
Part of normalizing and accepting bi+ identities is to make it easier for others to come out safely.
“Coming out is an extremely personal and yet universal experience—everyone does it a little differently, in their own way and time, and it can help to know that most people have something they feel is their private business and may have to ‘come out’ about at some time,” Simon said.
Hunt said, “You are not any less or more bisexual depending on the gender you are dating. Your sexuality is not invalidated, even if it ‘appears’ straight or gay or any other way. Who you are attracted to is all that matters. Embrace the fluidity of your sexual orientation. Take care of each other, love yourselves and know that I love you.”
Simon said GLADD works through media to share stories of LGBTQIA2S+ people to help all feel welcomed and acceptance.
“Acceptance can mean accepting yourself for who you are, accepting others for who they are, knowing that acceptance means everyone feels they belong and can contribute and succeed without fear of discrimination or rejection,” she said.
GLAAD honors news and entertainment content that accelerates acceptance of LGBTQ people each year with the GLAAD Media Awards. They also do in-depth research to monitor LGBTQ+ representation in entertainment and news media, “Where We Are on TV.”
Simon said this research found that bi+ characters are under-represented compared to their numbers in real life, and GLAAD challenged producers and studios to be more expansive and inclusive.
“LGBTQ coverage in general is low, bi+ coverage even lower, and getting it right means the difference between safety and danger for LGBTQ people and youth,” Simon said. “We want every LGBTQ person to know that GLAAD is their greatest champion, advocate and megaphone, and we won’t stop until there’s 100% acceptance.”
GLADD watches, challenges, supports, celebrates and amplifies the voices of those who aren’t heard or seen as often. Follow GLAAD on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and glaad.org to see their work in action.
“LGBTQ+ people belong everywhere – in the corner office, in the classroom, in the military, an in the halls where laws are made,” Hunt said.