A 30-year-old bisexual man in Michigan recently wrote Dear Abby asking for advice about his queerphobic family.
The unnamed man is dating a bisexual woman his same age who he considers “The One.” He wrote, “To us, we are two queer people who have identified as some form of queer or bisexual since we were teenagers.”
The only problem is that his mom perceives him and his girlfriend to be straight. His mom also has a best friend who is “extremely homophobic,” loudly voicing her bigoted views at his parents’ holiday parties and bragging proudly about her votes against same-sex marriage.
“My mother is extremely defensive about her friend,” the man wrote. “She didn’t take it kindly when I told her I deserve an apology for having to sit through this woman’s homophobic diatribes given that I am LGBTQ myself. ”
Adding to the issue, the man also has “conservative family members and family friends” who have also responded meanly to his and his girlfriend’s bisexuality.
The man asked the advice columnist how he can kindly explain to his mom that he and his girlfriend are not straight, that he feels intensely uncomfortable around her bestie, and that he’d like to keep homophobic family members and friends out of his wedding, which he plans on having in the next couple of years.
The advice columnist advised that the man simply explain his feelings to his mom “in plain English” and to plan his wedding himself so he can control the guest list. But his advice-seeking letter points to a larger issue of biphobia and bi-erasure in both the heterosexual and LGBTQ communities.
In a 2018 profile of Dr. Brian Dodge, a lead researcher on bisexuality and the health disparities they face, Dodge said “the vast majority” of biphobia he faces comes from gay and lesbian people.
A 2013 Pew survey found that bisexual people come out at rates three times less often than gay men, have four times fewer LGBTQ-identified friends than gay men, and report higher levels of societal mistrust than gay men. This is because of “monosexism” — prejudice against those who are attracted to more than one gender —and negative stereotypes that cast bi people as confused, deceitful, ultra-slutty, or trying to benefit from “straight/passing privilege.”
In actuality, such “privilege” actually adds extra stress to bi people — especially when they’re dating some of the same sex — because they have to repeatedly come out as queer when others mistakenly assume they’re straight. Other queer people will often make biphobic comments or ignorantly claim that bi people don’t actually exist.
As a result, research suggests that bi people stay closeted because of the discrimination they face from other queer people and face more health disparities and mental illness than gay people.
While the advice seeker wanted help with his biphobic family, the rest of the queer community has its own biphobia to face, lest it keep harming our bi siblings.