IDAHOBIT Day: Bi-erasure and being bi+ in 2017

For those of you who don’t know, May 17th is ‘International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia’ or ‘IDAHOBIT Day’. For most people in the LGBT+ community, days like this represent a chance to spread awareness to educate others and to just be themselves.

However many bi+ people, myself included, days like these can be a reminder that even in 2017 many people still do not recognise our sexuality as being valid. Whether by family and friends, society at large or, most shockingly, by other members of the LGBT+ community; bisexuals or bi+ people are often made to feel invalid, inferior or invisible.

In 2004, the date of May 17th was chosen to establish this day of recognition due to its significance within the LGBT+ community, as it is the anniversary of the day the World Health Organisation declared that homosexuality was no longer considered a mental disorder back in 1990.

Sounds like something worth celebrating, right? But only if you get invited to the party. Back in 2004 this day was entitled ‘International Day Against Homophobia’ or ‘IDAHO’. In 2009 Transphobia was added making it ‘IDAHOT’ but it wasn’t until 2015 that the acronym was extended to include Biphobia and it became known as ‘IDAHOBIT’.

Despite the significance of this day, there are still countless people suffering through acts of bi-erasure. I’ve been lucky in that the majority of reactions I’ve received from family and friends have been reasonably positive.

However this is not always the case, most people seem to react one of two ways: they either think that bi+ people don’t exist or they try to make us conform to their stereotypical idea of what we should be.

To confront those who commit acts of bi-erasure by invalidating their bisexual or bi+ peers, there are a few points that should be addressed:

  1. Bisexual people are real and valid and we have feelings.
  2. Bisexuals are not simply ‘greedy or ‘indecisive’ or ‘confused’ or ‘experimenting’.
  3. The misconceptions of others about our sexuality can be incredibly offensive, hurtful and detrimental to our wellbeing.

Bisexuality is not a label that we give ourselves for your benefit, it’s not something that we chose to be, it’s who we are.

Bi-erasure is still very present in modern society; there’s a distinct lack of representation of bi+ characters in the media, we’re often stereotyped, stigmatised or simply ignored because ‘hey bisexuality isn’t real’.

Being treated as though your sexual orientation, your sexual identity, does not exist or being called out by people you know and those you don’t for being dirty, greedy, indecisive, promiscuous or slutty is not an enjoyable experience. Many people attribute how I identify myself as being merely a passing phase, like I’m just experimenting and they expect me to eventually marry a man.

Okay yeah, maybe one day I’ll marry a man, but I won’t be doing it because I’m straight, I’ll still be bi. Bisexuality doesn’t just go away based on who you date, it’s a part of who you are.

In conclusion, I hope that I’ve been able to educate you a little on the issue of bi-erasure and its impact on the bi+ community as well as giving you an idea of what it means to experience bi-erasure.

There’s still a long road ahead but, as someone who’s experienced bi-erasure first hand, I believe that it’s important to continually challenge the stigmas associated with bisexuality and I know we’ll get there in the end.

Jaimee Wimbridge

If you would like to get involved with Perth’s Bisexual+ Community, head to the Facebook page to stay up to date.