At Howard Kennedy, inclusion and diversity is a key part of our personality. We are proud to celebrate our LGBTQ+ colleagues. June 2021 is our Pride Awareness Month. It's an opportunity for us to learn and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, as well as hopefully educate and inform others. In a series of articles, we will be educating on each initialism that makes up LGBTQ+.
Myth: Bisexuality can be seen as "just a phase" or as a "gateway" to coming out as a lesbian or gay man.
Reality: Perhaps the most prolific myth, it leads to the assumption that all bi people will eventually identify as a lesbian or gay man. However, for many, bisexuality is not a transient state or a cover for being a lesbian or gay man, but a sexual orientation in of itself.
Myth: Those who identify as bisexual are not discriminated against as much as the LG communities.
Reality: Bi people often experience discrimination from both the homosexual and heterosexual communities. This is often in the form of bi-erasure – where bisexuality is discounted as a sexual orientation. Sometimes known as bi invisibility, this is a pervasive problem. The Independent wrote in 2018 that bi people are often called the “invisible minority” within the LGBT+ community and despite many studies saying bisexuals make up half of the community, bi issues are seemingly underfunded or not funded at all.
Myth: Many assume that bi people are straight or gay depending on the gender of their partner.
Reality: Avoid making such assumptions. A bi person is bi regardless of their current or past partner(s) and experience. Respect all of their relationships equally. This also means not assuming – for example – that two women who are in a relationship with each other are both lesbians, or that a man and a woman who are in relationship with each other are both straight. It's important to use the term "LGBTQ+" if you mean to include bi people, rather than using "gay" as an umbrella term.
Myth: Bi people are equally attracted to men and women.
Reality: Some bisexuals do experience a 50/50 attraction to different gender identities, but many others have preferences that don't fit neatly into that percentage split or they just don't have a set percentage in who they choose. Individuals may change their preferences over time. Why do we need percentages anyway?
According to Robyn Ochs, an activist and educator on LGBTQ+, being bisexual is “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.” If you want to be an ally, then spend time getting to know the different identities/terminologies though we stress that identity is down to the individual. It's about what feels right for them so wait for their guidance on this and don't rush to put a label on them.
This article was written by Nicole Adamides (People Development and Culture Manager in Business Services and Head of the Inclusion Committee) and Jack O'Shea (since left).