Column: It's Time to Save the Bisexuals

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From the Florida orange juice boycott, to the creation of sex education classes, to Pride itself, bisexuals have been integral in any fight for equality, time and time again. Yet our contributions are routinely ignored in favor of celebrating “gay pioneers” and our community concerns are erased, invalidated and diminished at every level.

The data is clear, bisexual people are dying from much higher rates of suicide, domestic violence, rape/sexual assault, and poorer health than their gay, lesbian and heterosexual peers. To contemporize the old Woody Allen line, the only thing being bisexual doubles your chances of on a Saturday night, is getting beaten.

Bisexual community concerns are so deeply ignored that not a single LGBT organization in America has a bisexual specific project, department, or outreach mechanism to reach bi, pan, fluid, queer and otherwise bisexually oriented (bi plus) people.

Seriously, I check every year!

The state of bisexual non-profits working on behalf of bi plus community members is equally dismal. I should know, having been president of the bisexual advocacy non-profit BiNet USA for the last five years. It’s only this year that we’ve scored our first grant in over a decade, for $8,000 to participate in the landmark Our Tomorrow project.s I’d like to also congratulate fellow bisexual non-profit, The Bisexual Resource Center, on the news of their recent grant of $5,000 from the Boston Foundation’s Equality Fund. Between these two grants, bisexual nonprofits will receive at least $13,000 in grant money for the year of 2015.

In the bisexual community we utilize the term “callous disregard” to acknowledge how bi plus people have been completely left behind in the fight for LGBT justice. First popularized by the disability community, callous disregard is a feeling we bisexuals are all too familiar with.

"Callous Disregard" is what we mutter when we visit yet another Human Rights Campaign or National LGBTQ Task Force table at LGBT Pride without a single resource or acknowledgment of the bisexual community.

“Callous Disregard” is what we say when Entertainment Weekly “devotes an entire issue to gay, lesbian, and transgender entertainment” and puts the star of a bisexual show on its cover.

"Callous Disregard" is what we cry out to each other when faced with the reality that so few care for a people with a proud culture, history and tradition of political engagement. Callous disregard is what we know as a collective people, and it’s why we have lost four bi plus youth to suicide in just the last five months.

Blake Brockington (18), Taylor Alesana (16), Alyssa Morgan (12) and Adam Kizer (16) were all teens who were proudly out as bisexual or pansexual, yet they received little support or acknowledgement of that important part of their identity. The stark health, safety, and security disparities that those teens faced must be addressed, especially mental health disparities that frequently collude to create a "multiplier effect" for bi plus trans teens like Blake and Taylor, may they rest in peace and in power.

In LGBT community spaces these teens witnessed bisexual erasure and bi specific discrimination, and when they turned to the heterosexual community they would have found that same erasure coupled with the commodification of bi bodies. We are too often surrounded by a culture that would utilize the curiosity and exoticism of bisexuality to sell movies, TV and other products, all while neglecting to say our name!

“House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” are just the worst offenders on Netflix, and they have done deep damage to bi plus people everywhere by refusing to acknowledge that bisexuality is real and makes for powerfully compelling television!

As we celebrate the wins of marriage equality and progress for the transgender community, now is the time to recognize how far we truly still have to go. It’s time to wake up to the mistakes of the past, and rectify them before the future is lost for more bi plus people.

It is time to save the bisexuals.

Not just from the disparities that threaten their safety, health and security but also from the deep sense of loneliness, unhappiness and disconnectedness bisexual people consistently report due to not having services targeted at them and support developed for them.

It is time to save the bisexuals — before we completely disappear.

For more info on bisexual disparities please read “Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans” by The Movement Advancement Project (http://www.lgbtmap.org/understanding-issues-facing-bisexual-americans)

Originally from San Luis Obispo, California, Faith Cheltenham is the current President of BiNet USA, a national non-profi t advocacy organization for bi people. Faith’s been an LGBT activist for 15 years and is also an accomplished writer, poet, and stand-up comic. Faith is mom to two-year-old Storm, step-mom to six-year-old Cadence, and wife to Matt in a very modern family in Los Angeles.


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