"Just a Phase:" The Trouble With Bisexual Erasure

"Just a Phase:" The Trouble With Bisexual Erasure

Bisexual Health Awareness Month calls everyone to remember that bisexuality matters.
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The best kept secret of bisexuality is its existence. People who identify as bisexual face a unique, multi-faceted stigma because many simply choose to believe bisexuality cannot possibly exist. Typically, popular culture treats sexuality as a binary—an individual either wants to have sex with men or they want to have sex with women. This reductionist view of human sexuality disregards the “human.” It treats sexuality as a strict set of codes that determine the way people should mate and reproduce.

Actual human experience, however, shows that sexuality looks more like a lava lamp—a flux of illumination and darkness, concealing and revealing an amorphous entity. Bisexuality does not, however, refer to confusion, experimentation or indecision, though these all do take part in sexual embodiment.

Bisexuality is the name given to a legitimate experience of romantic and sexual attraction. March marks National Bisexual Health Awareness Month, which focuses on highlighting the ways that bisexual erasure and biphobia damage the physical and mental health of individuals who identify as bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer and those who prefer not to use a label.

Popular culture completely disregards bisexuality, although it accounts for over half of the LGB population in the United States, according to bihealthmonth.org. The treatment of bisexuality as merely a stepping stone either to coming out as gay or to reaffirming straight identity undermines the relationships of bisexual individuals and infantilizes them.

Bisexual people often experience alienation in a unique manner. Obviously, any sexual orientation that deviates from the “norm” of heterosexuality complicates one’s feeling of belonging in a hetero-normative culture. However, bisexuality leads to an additional problem. Sometimes, groups that focus on gay rights or comfortable, safe spaces for gay people exclude bisexual people.

Even when a community does not actually exclude those who identify as bisexual (or any of the terms that fall under the bisexual+ umbrella), individuals feel as though they are not “gay enough” for the community or “straight enough” for the mainstream.

This circumstance happens frequently among bisexual youths. Bihealthmonth.org reports that only 10 percent of bisexual young people feel as though they “fit in.” The other 90 percent must cope with a perpetual feeling of isolation from peers and adults. The isolation, fear and embarrassment associated with bisexuality leads to myriad psychological problems.

Bisexual erasure proposes many problems but has one particularly tragic consequence: suicide. Rejection and misrepresentation can lead to a sense of alienation and low self-esteem. Without the resources to intervene, this cyclone of depression and hopelessness kills.

The Institute of Medicine reported in 2011 that bisexual people have the highest rates of depression, self-harm and suicide among all sexual orientations. Bisexual youth, in particular, experience the greatest disparity in mental health, abuse and socioeconomic issues.

Bihealthmonth.org provides a number of troubling statistics: “compared with lesbians, bisexual female adolescents are two times more likely to experience dating abuse. Compared with heterosexual males, bisexual males are 3.6 times more likely to have experienced at least one type of dating abuse." Bi+ youth reported the highest levels of being bullied, threatened or harassed over the Internet. To disregard bisexuality is to turn away from people's pain.

Because bigotry against bisexuality tends to manifest itself in the form of disbelief, bisexual issues receive minuscule support. In fact, The Funders for LGBT issues annual report shows that out of $129 million of private funding for LGBT+ groups and organizations in 2013, less than one percent went to bisexual issues. Of that $475,000, most came from a private donor interested in scientific research. That leaves a dismal amount left for actual services to the community.

In addition, people who identify as bisexual are least likely to report their sexual orientation to a physician, likely due to fear of dismissal. Therefore, health risks that impact the bisexual community often go unaddressed. Even personal support resources are often slim for bisexual people.

Because of the perspective that bisexuality is transitory or even an excuse for infidelity, people who identify as bisexual are the least likely group to “come out” to families and friends. In addition, they rarely have access to or awareness of LGBT+ support groups, which often focus on people who identify as gay or lesbian.

Identities that intersect with bisexuality propose myriad different human experiences. Men who identify as bisexual risk being viewed as less of a man. Women have a different experience of bisexuality. Because of the fetishization of female homosexuality, bisexual women face accusations of “going through an experimental period,” seeking male attention or generally behaving in a promiscuous manner.

For trans or genderqueer people, the stereotypes and attacks become more complicated and convoluted. People hate what they fear and fear what they cannot understand. Hatred leads to cruelty. As March comes to a close, it is important to affirm all year that bisexual people exist and matter.

Cover Image Credit: Bilerico

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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​'When They See Us' Is The Tough Show Nobody Wants To Watch But Everyone Needs To

Justice was not served.

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Netflix just released a limited series called "When They See Us." The series is based on the Central Park Five. The Central Park Five were five young boys who were convicted of raping a woman jogging in Central Park on April 19, 1989. These young boys did not commit the crime they were convicted of though, they were set up by the prosecutor on the case, Linda Fairstein, along with her fellow detectives.

On April 19, 1989, a huge group of boys went out to Central Park one night "wilding." Cops came and arrested a bunch of the boys who were out. Linda Fairstein came to the scene where the rape happened, with the women attacked hanging on for her life. When Fairstein got to the precinct, immediately she said the boys in the park were the perpetrators. She had the police go out into the neighborhoods and find every young, black/Hispanic male who fit a description they drew up and brought them in for questioning.

What the detectives then did was extremely illegal.

They questioned these 14, 15 and 16-year-old boys without their parents. These boys were minors. These detectives took these boys in the rooms for questioning and started to plot a story in their head, making them say they committed the horrific crime. The boys were saying it wasn't them but the detectives would not let down. They started beating the kids until they "admitted" to this act of rape. One of the boys, Antron McCray, was with his mom and dad when they started to question him. Kevin Richardson was questioned without his mom until his sister came and was basically forced to sign the statement the detectives wrote for him so he could go home.

Yusef Salaam's mother came and got her son just before he signed his Miranda rights away. Raymond Santana was coerced by detectives for hours and hours, along with the others. Korey Wise, who was not in the police's interest at first, was taken and beaten by a detective until he agreed to the story they drew up. These boys didn't even know each other, except Yusef and Korey, and were pinning the crimes on one another because they were forced.

Donald Trump was even supportive of bringing back the death penalty for this case. He wanted the death penalty for five teenage boys. Teenagers. The boys were barely in high school and were being attacked with the death penalty.

At the trial, the lead prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, called in the victim of the attack, Trisha Meili. Meili had no recollection of the night after being in a coma for several days. The DNA evidence that was presented at trial did not match any of the defendants. There were no eyewitnesses. They showed the recordings of the interviews of the boys, but they were forced into telling false stories, which none of were merely similar. The case had no supporting evidence whatsoever. But the jury still convicted all five boys, who had to serve out their sentences.

The charges were exonerated in 2002 after the real rapist confessed. But exoneration does not make up for what these young boys had to go through. They were tried as adults at the ages of 14, 15 and 16. Korey Wise was in a maximum security prison at the age of 16. These boys went through something they should have never gone through at such a young age. There was no justice served for the boys or the victim. The detectives pinned a crime on five innocent young boys. These boys had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of actually working to find the real rapist, Linda Fairstein pinned it on five boys and did not do anything by the book while the boys were in question.

The show has brought back outcries about the case, even causing Linda Fairstein to step down from her charity boards. Our justice system still isn't what it should be today, and this show helps with showing us that.

The Netflix series shines a light on the racism of these detectives and the injustice that was served. Ava DuVernay did a tremendous job with this show. It is moving. The four episodes are very hard to watch, but it is so important that you do.

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