"Just choose one," "You're lucky you have so many options," "Oh yeah I used to be bi, too," "You're basically half straight," "You're greedy," "You don't fully understand what it is like to be gay,"

If you are bisexual or pansexual, I'm sure you've heard these statements and countless others before. Negative things like this just come with the territory of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Homophobic and transphobic people exist and that is just something you have to live with. But one thing I have never understood was when the prejudice I was receiving was coming from fellow members of the community.

There is a huge stigma around bisexual and pansexual individuals. We receive hate for a variety of reasons, and some of that hate comes from people who are very similar to us. Being bi or pan doesn't make someone any less "gay" or any less of a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Bi and pan individuals still struggled coming to terms with their sexuality, they still had to come out, they are still subject to homophobia, and their sexuality is just as valid as someone who is gay or lesbian. It is not that bi/pan people can't "choose." They are legitimately attracted to men and women or all genders.They are also definitely not "half straight." Can they be in traditional, heterosexual relationships? Sure! But it makes no sense to label them as straight because of that.

As I mentioned, bi/pansexual people face a lot of the same discrimination and struggles that many members of the LGBTQ+ community faces. However, there are many forms of bi/pan phobia that bi and pan people see on a daily basis that come from other members of the LGBTQ+ community. People may think they just haven't made up their minds, that bi/pansexuality is just a phase, assuming that people are choosing to identify has bi or pansexual because it is "trendy," thinking that all bi or pansexual individuals are promiscuous, and (in my opinion) the absolute worst: assuming bisexuality or pansexuality is just a stepping stone until someone reaches their "true" lesbian or gay identity.

The LGBTQ+ community has a "plus" on the end for a reason. There are so many different identities that someone can have and people should be able to freely identify as what they feel they are. This community was built on love. So why would you add hate into the equation against your fellow queers? Although we are all fighting our own battle, many parts of our stories are the same. We all want equal rights, we all want to be able to express ourselves in ways that make us feel beautiful, confident, and happy, and we all want to be able to love whoever the fuck we want with out the judgement of others. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and you see queer on queer hate take place, please speak up! Say something, start a conversation, educate yourself and others, and protect and fight for your fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community.