I don't hear much about bisexuality. Being involved in the LGBTQIA community, I'd think that I'd hear more about it, but in the end it's much more about gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer. It makes me wonder why this is happening.
It is natural for the human mind to categorize any phenomena. This also includes sexual orientation. So when a man says, "I like men" - he's categorized as gay; when a woman says, "I like women" - she's categorized as a lesbian; when a man or a woman says, "I like both men and women" - he or she is categorized as a bisexual. Think of this: When you see a man and a woman together, an automatic assumption may be that they are heterosexual; when you see two men together, an automatic assumption may be that they are gay. How many times have you thought: "I can't tell whether either of these individuals are heterosexual, gay, or bisexual - they could identify as anything"? Ultimately, where do bisexuals belong? There is a gay community, lesbian, community, transgender community. How much do we hear about a bisexual community? Furthermore, how much do we hear about an openly bisexual community?
Looking up closer, we learn about several issues:
Bisexuals often don't feel comfortable in a gay community, because they are accused of not being "fully gay," or of being "confused and in need to make up their mind," etc.
Bisexuals often don't feel comfortable in a heterosexual community, because being attracted to the same sex is considered a deviation.
Both gay and heterosexual communities often consider bisexuality as a phase, which should eventually result in either gay or heterosexual identification.
Bisexuals are often accused of being "greedy" and "promiscuous" - as if they can't get enough of their own sex or gender, so they have multitude of partners and sleep around.
These and other misconceptions can be devastating. In the end, bisexuals become invisible and disapproved not only by heterosexuals but by gays and lesbians as well. When you have bisexual clients, be aware that they have additional struggles on top of the existing struggles of sexual minorities. Don't lump gays, lesbians, and bisexuals together as a one happy family. From my perspective, affirmative approach may be especially important. Avoid tilting clients toward identifying as gay or heterosexual, because then you'll become an involuntary oppressor.
________________________________________________________________________ Evelyn Pavlova is a counselor and an Ally, whose preferred population is LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, invisible minority, asexual, and ally) individuals. Her areas of interest are eating disorders, mood disorders, mindfulness, and spirituality. Read more about her new counseling journey at www.curvyroad.weebly.com