Lewis Oakley is a bisexual activist. To mark Bi Visibility Day, Oakley writes for PinkNews about standing in the face of biphobia in 2017.
Today is an important day and I wanted to send you a message.
As Twitter and some decent news sites erupt in a blue, pink and purple celebration of Bi Visibility, I know you can’t show your support for fear someone may find out. Mates that would never accept bisexuality and insist you must be a gay man now. A girlfriend that will be embarrassed and worried your relationship will be seen as a joke by everyone. Family who will think you’re ‘just getting carried away’ with this whole equality thing.
Sadly you are in very good company, in America The Pew Research Centre found that only 12% of Bisexual men are out of the closet compared to 77% of gay men. Which tells us two things, first – not enough has been done to make bisexual men as accepted as gay men. Second, UK LGBT groups need to pull their fingers out and look in to the issue here.
With almost 90% of bisexual men in the closet I know there isn’t much I can say to convince you it’s better on the outside but I will say that that I’m happy and owning my bisexuality has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
My girlfriend couldn’t care less about my sexuality, if anything she likes that I was man enough to own something that is so often seen as a negative. My dad being cool about my bisexuality actually helped bring us closer than we’ve ever been. The truth is bisexuality means you’re attracted to men and women, it doesn’t mean you have to have purple hair, go to gay bars, have sex with men or even vote labour. Bisexuality is on you to own and trademark your way.
I’m not going to lie to you, being an out and proud bisexual man can be tough, your straight partners can be targeted by association, there aren’t many places you can go to meet other bisexual men and people will constantly undermine you and believe they are such an expert in penis that they know more about what gets you excited than you do.
The bottom line is, we need more bisexual men out, more bisexual men to own their sexuality, more bisexual men to grab society by the balls and a tell them what being bisexual is about – not the other way around.
You might think it’s safer, ignoring your sexuality or meeting guys on the down low, but the truth is living a double life isn’t as glamorous as Superman made it look. It’s stressful, tiring and one day you’ll wake up and ask if people like you for you or just the person you pretend to be.
Related: Everything you’ve always wanted to ask a bisexual person but were always too scared
Sexuality is unique, it’s invisible, but it’s as much of a part of you as your skin colour or your gender. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy but if even ten people reading this decide they are going to come out that’s ten more men out there changing people’s perception of bisexuality.
When people come to challenge us on it we have to be better than them.
We have to be funnier than they are,
Be more sarcastic than they are,
Be more sassy than they are,
Be more knowledgeable than they are,
We can change the way people see bisexuality, one-day people might even envy us, but we can only do that If we stand together.