If you’re bi you’re most likely well aware of all the trouble that comes with bisexuality and the common myths around it. Part of the reason for the latter is that research into bisexuality is beset by problems: unexamined assumptions, scientific incompetence, the politicization of sexual identity, you name it. The Nerve recounts a history of dud studies.
In 2011, Northwestern University came back and apologized for the six years it had rejected the validity of an entire sexual orientation and bisexual men’s experience. Their 2005 study had mainly sourced participants from gay mags, but this time around, the researchers found subjects who identified as bisexual and who had both sexual and romantic relationships with both men and women. While watching videos of female and male same-sex encounters, the bisexual men doing the study were aroused all around. All combinations of videos gave them boners. Meaning, bisexual men were just what they said they were: bisexual men.
Meanwhile this week two new studies were released. The first is called Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans. The result of a collaboration between the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), BiNet USA, and the Bisexual Resource Center, the report is an overview of the health, safety, and economic disparities experienced by bisexual Americans. It also includes policy recommendations to address these disparities. From the press release:
While more than half of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community identifies as bisexual, bisexual people are vulnerable to poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes–often at rates higher than their lesbian and gay peers…
"Despite comprising the largest population within the LGBT community, bisexual people are among the most invisible," said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. "The failure to account for bisexual lives and experiences compounds a lack of social support and keeps bisexual people in the closet."
"Bisexual people often face pervasive stereotypes and myths surrounding bisexuality," said Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of the Bisexual Resource Center. "The fear of being stereotyped manifests itself in a real way: bisexual people are six times more likely than gay men and lesbians to be closeted. This impacts the emotional well-being of many bisexual people and is a contributing factor to the community’s higher rates of poor physical and mental health."
Bisexual_by_DevilsLittleSister from DeviantART
The second report, released yesterday focused on bisexual youth: Tthe Human Rights Campaign Foundation, in partnership with the Bisexual Resource Center, BiNet USA, and the Bisexual Organizing Project, published Supporting and Caring For Our Bisexual Youth, a report based on one of the largest-ever surveys of LGBT youth in America. More than 40 percent of the 10,000 LGBT youth surveyed identify as bisexual, and those youth report that they face greater challenges coming out and being accepted than their peers who are gay or lesbian.
The survey found:
- Only five percent of bisexual youth reported being "very happy," compared to 21 percent of non-LGBT youth surveyed separately to provide a point of comparison.
- Nearly a third of bisexual young people said they had been "frequently or often" harassed or called names at school, compared to nine percent of non-LGBT youth who reported similar mistreatment.
- When asked if they have an adult family member they can turn to, 44 percent of bisexual youth said they did, compared to 79 percent of non-LGBT youth who reported having a supportive adult at home.
HRC’s Liz Halloran adds:
Many of the young people surveyed expressed the potential to be attracted to more than one gender, but rejected the term "bisexual" when describing their sexual orientation. Instead, they wrote their own descriptions, including "queer" and "pansexual."
The findings, released on the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day, also show that bisexual youth in America are overwhelmingly female, and confront broad skepticism and misunderstanding about their sexual identities.
"It hurts deeply when young people are told they are not legitimate, and, unfortunately, that is what many bisexual youth are hearing from their family and friends," says Ellen Kahn, director of the HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth & Families Program. "This report will help bust the myths and misunderstandings associated with bisexuality, and create a space for young people to be more open, and to find the support they deserve."