Bisexual people should be able to integrate better than any of us: Yet instead they experience prejudice from both gay and straight people.
They report their sexuality is treated by straight people as ‘truly’ lesbian or gay.
However, when they try to identify with and move within queer circles: They are distrusted and considered to be ‘betraying’ the community by dating people of the opposite sex.
A recent study seems to showcase this. A group from the University of Massachusetts surveyed 745 bisexual people about their experiences of discrimination.
They found respondents experienced discrimination from both gay men and lesbians and straight people.
Importantly, it revealed, even though discrimination from straight people was more common, the respondants were more affected when the abuse came from members of the LG & T community.
In the end, the difference in how it affected them was very slight. ‘Although the level of discrimination that bisexuals experienced from heterosexuals was significantly higher, the effect size reveals that the degree of difference [between discrimination from heterosexuals and homosexuals] was small,” the researchers write in the study.
The study calls this ‘monosexism’, or: ‘The belief that people are, or can truly be, only either heterosexual, lesbian, or gay… this reduces the continuum of human sexuality into a dualistic view.’
This means monosexism affects both gay and straight people so they perceive bisexuals as peculiar, despite the uphill battle already fought to normalise homosexuality.
The result is bisexual people are unable to fit into a category; most poignantly in the gay community, where a huge number of gay people turn when they feel like outcasts.
‘Essentially it’s like saying that two people are yelling at you, but one voice is a decibel higher,’ Tangela Roberts, a researcher in the study, told the Daily Beast.
It’s because of this that bisexual people may choose to stay in the closet. A 2013 Pew survey found only 28 percent tell ‘all or most of the important people in their life’ about being bisexual.
It may be bisexual people with predominately same sex attractions just don’t come out. In another Pew article from 2015: only 9% of bisexual people were in a same sex relatinoship.
The study looked primarily at white people, which doesn’t reveal potentially greater biphobia in communities with no culture of acceptance of sexual minorities.