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The Problem of Bisexual Invisibility

Bilerico reports: A new survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans Americans released last month by the Pew Research Center contained many heartening findings. For example, 92% of respondents said society has become more accepting of LGBT people over the last ten years, and 92% also believe society will become even more accepting in the decade ahead.

But the survey also revealed a startlingly high degree of invisibility among bisexual Americans: while bisexuals make up 40% of the LGBT community — a larger share than their L, G, and T siblings — just 28% say that most or all of the important people in their lives know about their sexual orientation, as opposed to 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians. And while 33% of bisexual women report being out, that number drops to 12% among bisexual men.

This is likely due at least in part to perceptions in the LGBT community about social acceptance, particularly in the case of male bisexuality: when asked whether there is "a lot" of acceptance of bisexual women, 33% of LGBT respondents said yes, compared with just 8% who agreed with that statement when applied to men.

Social acceptance of bisexuals is a problem both inside and outside the LGBT community. In a report about bisexuality and the closet last week, the Los Angeles Times quoted Jeremy Stacy, a bisexual West Hollywood man, who said that his sexuality was even questioned during a pride parade:

"One guy came up to me and said, ‘You’re really gay,’ " said Stacy, who was standing under a sign reading "Ask a Bisexual." "I told him I had a long line of ex-girlfriends who would vehemently disagree. And he said, ‘That doesn’t matter, because I know you’re gay.’ "

Many closeted bisexuals interviewed by the Times told the paper that they’ve chosen not to come out due to negative stereotypes about bisexuality — that bisexuals are indecisive, greedy, confused, sex-crazed, or promiscuous, just to name a few. And those who do come out often face backlash not just from society at large, but from friends, family, and spouses.

John, a married man who realized that he was bisexual three years ago and has told his wife, said he worries about bringing her shame if he comes out more publicly. He suspects she would hear, "Surely you must have seen the signs," and, "How do you put up with that?"

His wife has told him he must suppress his feelings. "She believes sexuality is a choice and that I can and should just ‘turn it off,’ " he said.

Unfortunately, LGBT community resource centers often overlook bisexuals in their programming, compounding the isolation. Studies from Kent State University and George Mason University suggest that being misunderstood by and invisible in both society and the LGBT community puts bisexual people at an elevated risk for a host of problems including binge drinking, depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions.

Clearly, combating bisexual invisibility needs to be a bigger priority for the LGBT movement. So I’ll close by asking our bisexual readers: how well or poorly do you feel understood by your LGBT siblings and society at large? What are the greatest misconceptions about bisexuality that you encounter in your day-to-day lives, and have those stereotypes kept you from coming out of the closet? And how can the LGBT community better address your concerns, meet your needs, and make you feel welcome?

  

The Secret Queer Teens of Russia

Gay Russian teens communicate in secret to avoid a law on “gay propaganda”: Young homosexuals faced with hatred and rejection in Russia turn to closed internet forum Deti-404 for support.

Youths kick a gay rights activist in Moscow during a protest in June.

Youths kick a gay rights activist in Moscow during a protest in June.

Only one person knew that Svetlana was gay when she wrote to Deti-404, a Russian support group for lesbian teenagers. In her letter, the 16-year-old described a life of hiding her sexuality in a small town in central Russia where a man had been killed for being gay. “I am scared that they will find out about me and lynch me. Sometimes I want to cry out: ‘Accept me for who I am! Or at least be tolerant of me’,” she wrote.

Deti-404, which takes its name from the error page that appears when a website does not exist, was set up by Lena Klimova, 25, after she wrote an article about the plight of LGBT teenagers. She had no plans to do anything further, but then she got a letter from Nadya, 15. “Nadya was hounded at school, her mother didn’t support her,” said Klimova in an interview. “She decided to die, accidentally read my article and didn’t do it.”

After Klimova had spoken to Nadya by phone and understood the depths of her despair, she asked herself: “Why does nobody ring alarm bells, not scream, not shout about it on every corner? Many of them close in on themselves, they don’t tell anyone. They are scared of parents and classmates. If they open up, parents sometimes beat them, insult them, throw them out, take away their phones, ban them from going on the internet and even lock them up in a psychiatric clinic.”

The small support group is one of the few for young gay people in Russia. It would also seem to be exactly the thing that the controversial anti-gay law passed by the Russian parliament wishes to crack down on. The law, similar to the section 28 law that was passed by Margaret Thatcher’s government in the UK in 1988, bans the dissemination of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation” towards under-18s and imposes fines on anyone convicted.

When she set up the group, Klimova surveyed 115 LGBT teenagers all over Russia, creating a closed forum for the teens to interact. Her survey showed that a number had thought of suicide. Fewer than half had come out to their parents. “It is only on the internet that they can find somebody to speak to,” she said. “The feeling that most of these children feel is constant fear.” Some of the teens’ letters are shown on the Deti-404 page, with pictures of the authors with their faces obscured so that no one can recognise them.

When a teenager gets in touch, if necessary Klimova helps them speak to a sensitive psychologist. “I tell practically all of them that they are needed, unique and invaluable. I am not pretending. It is true,” she said.

Teenagers in smaller towns – where there are few, if any, openly out people and no gay scene – have it the hardest. “Our school is considered progressive, but it is quite normal for teachers to say that homosexuals will burn in hell,” wrote one 16-year-old from a small town “which isn’t even on the map”.

Svetlana was once having dinner and on one of “the damn channels of this no less damnable country there was a show about LGBT”. She remembers the scorn and contempt of her mother. “She calls homosexuals – and that means me too – mutants.” Her father said he was ready to go out with his gun and kill them, while her older sister said they should be treated in psychiatric hospitals. Svetlana has still not come out to her family.

Homosexuality was only legalised in Russia in 1993. Now the new law is in danger of breaking the morale of some of those who see only a future of concealment and unhappiness. “When they passed the law, all the teens I know were in despair. You know, in reality, the law is aimed at them,” said Klimova.

Vicious physical assaults have continued with depressing frequency. A man in Volgograd was murdered after revealing to friends that he was gay. A vigilante group lured young teens on social media by pretending to be older men looking for sex and then humiliated them on videos which they uploaded to the internet. “LGBT are called paedophiles, carriers of HIV/Aids, whatever you want, but not normal people. Of course people feel that and of course there are more hate crimes,” said Klimova.

She is certain that there will be no boycott of the Winter Olympics. But she does have one plea. “Sportsmen can go to the opening ceremony with a rainbow flag in support of Russian LGBT. It would be very valuable.”

Article by The Guardian

  

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Gay Teen Torture Trend in Russia

President Putin’s crusade against the queer community in Russia took a new turn. Right-wing youth in the country have been advised by a top-ranking nationalist to create fake profiles on VK.com (a popular Russian social network) and lure in gay male teens for torture.

Spectrum Human Rights Alliance writes:

Infamous Russian ultranationalist and former skin head, Maxim Martsinkevich spearheaded a country wide campaign against LGBT teens using a popular social network VK.com to lure unsuspected victims through personal ads. Mr. Martsinkevich’s numerous and enthusiastic followers started two projects: "Occupy Pedophilyaj" and "Occupy Gerontilyaj".  Allegedly they are trying to identify and report pedophiles using these "movements".

In reality, over 500 online groups have been created inside [the] VK.com social network in order to organize illegal militant groups in every Russian city. Oddly enough their idea of fighting paedophiles targets exclusively male teenagers who respond to the same-sex personal ads and show up for a date. Captured victims are bullied and often tortured while being recorded on video.

These self-proclaimed "crime fighters" perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to general public that indifferently passes by or even commend them. Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized. So far Russian police took no action against these "movements" even though Russian criminal code was clearly violated and despite numerous complaints from parents, victims and LGBT activists.  Social network VK.com intermittently shuts down selected groups and profiles only to allow them to be re-open on the next day. Currently, the founder of VK.com, Pavel Durov, resides in the US and so far has not released any comments.

Putin's Crackdown on LGBT Teens in Russia

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