Biphobia is a prevalent issue both within and outside the LGBTI community.
A report by the Equality Network revealed 66% of bisexual people only felt ‘a little’ or ‘not at all’ part of the LGBTI community. Many stating biphobia and bi erasure were the reason for this.
Laura is a 29-year-old tattoo artist from Argentina. She’d known her entire life she was attracted to both genders however struggled with this aspect of her identity in her teens. She was confused and used to fantasize about female teachers and other female students at school.
It wasn’t until she graduated high school and learned about bisexuality she finally realized who she was. Two years ago, she moved to the capital city Buenos Aires and was finally able to fully immerse herself in the LGBTI community and was able to express herself.
‘My first encounter with biphobia was this year, I am relatively new to the community,’ Laura told Gay Star News.
‘A very close friend of mine with whom I had various sexual encounters, wanted to introduce me to a new acquaintance of her who happened to be a lesbian. Apparently she showed much interest into meeting me intimately,’
‘You do know there is a B in LGBTQI right?’
She went on to talk about when she met the girl, who she’d met through a mutual friend.
‘I was doubtful since I am very shy and ignorant as how to flirt or realize I am being flirted at by a woman. She wasn’t my type but I liked her and her friends so the night went on without flirting but with a every open and friendly feeling.
‘A couple days later she contacts me because of my job, and suggests we should get together to play music, to which I reply “just as friends right? I am sorry we didn’t hit it off, but I’d be OK to make friends”.
‘She took a defensive position and started making excuses as how she was never interested in me, and here comes the phrase that hit me hard ‘you used to date our common friend right? That is the problem with you, “paki” with “paki” don’t make a lesbian’.’
‘Paki’ is a slang term commonly used by people in the LGBTI community in Argentina to refer to cis heterosexuals in a derogatary way. Laura explained how as a community who preach and fight for equality, it’s hypocritical and a contradiction to all we fight for.
When Laura answered back to the biphobic comment by saying ‘You do know there is a B in LGBTQI right?’, the lesbian dismissed her reply and made an excuse.
While upsetting, it’s really unsurprising Laura had to deal with this as GLAAD brought to light last year the fact 58% of bisexuals are forced to deal with biphobic comments and jokes in their place of work.
‘I felt cheated, sad, angry, prejudiced, but most of all I felt proud’
It is also not uncommon for comments like this to make bisexual people feel like they don’t belong. HRC’s ‘Supporting and Caring for Bisexual Youth’ report tells of how only 10% of bisexual youth feel like they fit in.
On how she felt after the biphobic encounter, Laura said: ‘When I realised that I had suffered from biphobia, by a member of the community who was supposed to embrace and accept me, I felt cheated, sad, angry, prejudiced, but most of all I felt proud.’
‘This pride came to me as a surprise, because all I had experienced sexually and emotionally during my difficult teen and young adult years led me to be the adult woman I am now. Knowing that not only I am bisexual, I am also part of one of the most censored and degraded groups inside the LGBTQI community.’
‘Maybe I was always a justice fighter for those who cannot fight for themselves, but I knew that now I had a mission. To call this bitch out for her attitude and keep doing it to anyone who followed her example.’
‘I am proud to be part of this community’
Since the incident, Laura has made an effort to research and read up on biphobia and other issues that the bisexual community face. She has since learned it’s common for bisexual women to face discrimination from lesbians, and bisexual men face the same from their gay counterparts.
While some people may take this unfortunate event to heart, Laura has taken it in her stride.
‘I am proud to be who I am, if I were gay or trans I would be just as proud and I would try to fight discrimination towards me or others when encountered,’ she added.
‘I am proud to be part of this community, because despite this whole situation which was specific to one bad person, I was always welcome and never judged.’
‘Thanks to my gay and trans friends I started coming out, they knew I would before I did. I wish everyone had friends like mine. I am hopeful. I am proud. And I am happy.’