Bisexual Visibility Day (also known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day) is recognised annually on 23 September and raises awareness of the unique challenges faced by the bi+ community (bi+ being the umbrella term to refer to people who are attracted to more than one gender).
Learn more about Bisexual Visibility Day with Duc Dau
Bisexuality can be defined as: “The potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.” (Robyn Ochs)
A study by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University, found significant differences in mental health and wellbeing between same sex attracted and bi+ people1. A further study identified the factors linking to poorer mental health in bi+ people2:
- A higher sense of internalised biphobia;
- Perceived lack of support from their partner for their sexuality; and
- Having their relationship incorrectly perceived by others as heterosexual.
We interviewed Duc Dau (she/her) from Bi+ Community Perth to tell us more about why this occasion is important.
Kaya, Duc! Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your involvement with the Bi+ Community Perth Group?
Pre-Google, I came across the term bisexuality at university, in the mid-1990s. The discovery was like being at sea and suddenly catching sight of a wondrous island I’d never been told about.
I became a bi+ activist out of necessity; so few bi+ people are out, even though we form the largest group under the LGBTIQA+ umbrella. I run Bi+ Community Perth with fellow activists. Driven by the relative lack of visibility and resources for bi+ people, we aim to combat bi+ erasure [invisibility] (e.g. through media engagements, scholarship, networking and lobbying), while offering a safe place for bi+ people to engage in discussion, offer mutual support, and form community. We run a Facebook page, hold regular in-person events, march in the Pride Parade, and gather for monthly social get-togethers on Zoom.
What is bisexuality and some of the challenges/misconceptions faced by bi+ people?
Bi+ men are the least likely among people of all sexualities to be out due to stigma, misunderstanding, and biphobia. Often assumed to be secretly gay, their identities are invalidated. Bi+ woman tend to be more accepted, partly because of the pervasiveness of sexual tropes in pornography, but this, too, is another form of invalidation. Overall, bi+ men and women are not as out as gays and lesbians are, as we aren’t considered gay enough to be queer or straight enough to be mainstream. A percentage of bi+ people exist outside of the gender binary, so regularly encounter misgendering. Some bi+ people are also asexual or aromantic, which seems to confuse many people. There are differences in coming out (and whether that happens) depending on whether one’s cultural background places a high value on family honour, reproduction and religion.
Why is Bisexual Visibility Day important?
The day is one of celebration and validation. I celebrate bisexuality because to me it means the freedom to embrace multiple ways of thinking and being in the world.
In terms of validation, it’s hard to accept yourself if you feel that you are misunderstood or not accepted. The comparative lack of a bi+ community and bi+ spaces compounds a sense of isolation. This is why bi+ activists are so invested in visibility. There are adult members in my group who had not met, let alone been friends with, other openly bi+ people until they joined us. It’s been freeing for them, to let go of their sense of isolation, shame, and internalised biphobia when they feel known and accepted.
What events are there in Perth to recognise Bisexual Visibility Day events?
Bi+ Community Perth is holding a family-friendly picnic at Russell Square on 26 September from 12-2pm. We’ll have a vegan and gluten-free cake, pizza, and piñatas. It’s been a highlight for bi+ families over the past few years.
Bi+ Community Perth is also involved with organising the national Stand Bi Us Forum, a mostly online event with lots of exciting and diverse sessions. The centrepiece is the First Nations Keynote. Bi+ Community Perth is also hosting or co-hosting online events such as a non-binary workshop for organisations, a cocktail soiree, a polyamory discussion panel, a writers panel, and a panel about complex and intersecting identities.
Do you have any tips for how people can be everyday allies to bi+ people?
- Challenge biphobia if you encounter it. Bisexuality is as valid as being straight or gay.
- Understand that bisexuality is an umbrella term (which encompasses people who are neither straight nor gay). People define their bisexuality in a way that is unique to them, and which can change over time.
- Use inclusive language. Terms like “gay marriage” can erase bi+ identities.
- Do not out a bi+ person unless you have their permission. It might be an unsafe space for someone to be outed.
- Make spaces and events more bi+ inclusive. Sometimes, bi+ people feel unwelcome in LGBTIQA+ spaces if their partner is of a different gender, or conversely, in mainstream spaces if their personal appearance does not conform to gender expectations or if their partner appears to be of the same gender.
- Learn about bisexuality through reputable sources. Many are online these days.
If this topic brings up anything for you, you can contact the following groups:
- If you’re feeling distressed and want to talk to someone right now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
- For LGBTQIA+ specific peer support, contact Qlife via 1800 184 527 or webchat at qlife.org.au 3pm -12am 7 days per week.
1 Leonard, W., Lyons, A., & Bariola, E. (2015). A closer look at Private Lives 2: Addressing the mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Australians. Monograph Series No. 103. The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University: Melbourne
2 Taylor, Julia, Power, Jennifer, Smith, Elizabeth, & Rathbone, Mark. (2019). Bisexual mental health: Findings from the 'Who I Am' study. Australian Journal of General Practice., 48(3), 138-144.
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