Despite some impressive strides forward, the inescapable truth is – around the world gay, bisexual and transgender acceptance is going down.
It’s easy to think there isn’t much the average LGBTI person can do to fix things but it is important that we don’t become indifferent or lose hope.
Changing international policy may be out of our reach. But if we all commit to doing the best we can, we will change the world.
In times like this, It’s important to focus on the things that can’t be taken away from us – such as role models.
We’ve all had them and we’ve all hopefully been them.
It could have been the first confidant gay man you met or a person wearing a they/them badge on the bus.
At one point or another, we’ve all been inspired to be stronger by another LGBTI person. It’s the one thing we must never lose – each of us can help raise our people up.
With alarming levels of isolation and mental health issues, one area of the LGBTI that is always in need of role models is bisexuals.
Bi people are in a unique situation. Statistically, the odds are in their favor.
Research shows that 43% of 16 to 24-year-olds don’t identify as entirely gay or straight, yet only 12% of bisexual men and 33% of bisexual women are out of the closet.
This is a shocking disparity when we consider 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians are out.
Digital Pride is the only global Pride and is dedicated to enabling everyone to be part of a Pride, whoever they are and wherever they live in the world. This year, we are focusing on tackling loneliness and isolation. It takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.
Bisexuals are not living openly
So why is it so difficult for bisexual people to live openly as themselves?
One issue that plays a factor is the visibility of other bi people.
Bisexuality is invisible. When I’m walking down the street with my girlfriend, the world sees us as ‘just another straight couple’.
That might not seem like a big deal to many but the truth is it means bisexuals never see themselves reflected in society.
As a result, we can’t even be role models to each other. And short of every bi person wearing a massive badge declaring their sexuality, there are few chances for young bi people to easily see other bisexuals happy and living well.
Bisexuality is a diverse spectrum
Another factor is isolation. With so few bi people out of the closet, there are little chances of young bi people meeting each other.
Young bi people don’t have anyone to share experiences with, to ask for advice or be inspired by.
Sure our monosexual friends can be supportive but they haven’t ‘been there done that’. They aren’t going to be able to tell us anything about bisexuality that we don’t already know.
The other factor is that bisexuality is an umbrella term. Just because bisexual people share the same sexuality doesn’t mean their attractions are the same. Some may have a preference towards men, others may have only dated women, some may have sex with men and women but only have romantic feelings towards men. The diverse spectrum of bisexuality means even if you could get two bisexuals in a room together the chances of them having similar enough attractions and experiences to support each other are slim.
When you add together the invisibility, isolation and the diverse ranges of bisexuality, it’s understandable why bi people struggle to be confident in themselves.
This is why bisexuals so desperately need role models, people living openly, able to offer their vision of bisexuality.
Why role models can help
Importantly, we can’t have just a handful. Bisexuals come in many incarnations so we need as many examples as possible.
The truth is changing policy and negative attitudes on a global scale is out of your everyday person’s reach.
However, being a role model is something we can all do.
We all have the power to inspire in our own little way
And that is why, from this column forward, I’ll be doing a weekly column right here at Gay Star News.
So if you feel like you need to understand what’s going on from the perspective of a bisexual man, you’ll be able to read that every week.
I want as many of you involved as possible. If you have a bisexual topic you want me to tackle – drop me an email and lets see what we can do together.
Lewis Oakley is a weekly bisexual correspondent on Gay Star News. Follow him on Twitter.
What is Digital Pride?
Digital Pride is the online movement, by Gay Star News, so you can take part in Pride whoever and wherever you are. Even if you are from a country where being LGBTI is criminalized or leaves you in danger – it’s a Pride festival you can be a part of.
In 2019, Digital Pride is tackling loneliness and isolation with articles and videos connecting LGBTI people. Join us by reaching out to someone who needs it. The festival takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.