On Sept. 23rd, people who identify as bisexual, the rest of the LGBT community and their allies will come together for Bisexual Visibility Day.
This year marks the 18th celebration of this day. Since its beginning in 1999 by bisexual rights activists, the celebration of Bisexual Visibility Day has spread through the United States and even to Europe. Participants have shown support for bisexual people through activities ranging from attending panels on bisexual issues to grabbing drinks with friends.
Some controversy surrounds the definition of bisexuality. Traditionally, it has been characterized as feeling a sexual attraction to both men and women. However, personal preference and a shedding of the notion of a gender-binary system in the past decade have paved way for a new meaning.
Loran Marsan, a visiting assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said she defines bisexuality as “Someone being attracted to people who are of your same gender and at least one other gender.”
Bisexuality could be seen as having a very similar definition with another sexuality called pansexuality. delfin bautista, director of the LGBT center, said the term “pansexual” came from a better understanding of the concept of gender.
“Folks felt [the traditional definition of bisexuality] was reinforcing the binary and that there are only men and women and what about genderqueer folk and nonbinary folk,” bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, said. “So folks came up with the term pansexual as a way of being more inclusive, as well as recognizing that gender is on a spectrum.”
Some members of the LGBT community do not like the word bisexual because it could hint at the gender binary, Marsan said.
Shavon Martin, secretary of Southeastern Ohio LGBT Community and Supporters, identifies as bisexual. She said a bisexual friend was once asked to be in a threesome, and bisexual women are often “reduced down to someone really slutty.”
Marsan said people often assume “(bisexual women) are polyamorous or that they’re promiscuous, they can’t choose.”
“LGBT issues are sexism issues,” Martin said. This is revealed in how bisexual people are often thought to be of another sexuality. Bisexual women are assumed to be straight, while bisexual men are assumed to be gay. She said these views are examples of people believing everyone secretly wants to “be with men.”
However, the fact that bisexual people are attracted to more than one gender still results in confusion, Martin said, and people believe “you’re not fully committing.”
bautista said the LGBT Center’s main goal was to spread awareness of bisexuality and the issues faced by those who identify as bisexual. Different organizations are planning to share infographics and other images on social media to spread their knowledge of the matter.
Martin said the value of Bisexual Visibility Day comes from having “the chance to say ‘Hey — We’re here, we’re bi, get used to it.’ ”