There's no avoiding the elephant in the room. The news this month has made it increasingly hard to feel as celebratory as us rainbowed folk would like to.
The news this weekend of Roe v Wade has left every woman across the western world questioning (yet again!) how much their own government values a woman's right to their own body!
The conversation on Tuesday's BBC Radio 4's Today programme (1:50:46) discussing claims that the supreme court were planning to re-examine precedents from cases similar to Roe v Wade including those of contraception and same sex marriage, left me feeling physically sick.
I would be nothing if it wasn't for the legalisation of same sex marriage. When it comes to parental loss, grief is just the tip of the shit-show iceberg. Before you know it, the financial side of death comes knocking and to have a legally recognised parent saved my bacon! Not to mention the fact she means the absolute world to me... But she knows that!
Therefore, I have no question about what pride means to me!
Pride for me is the celebration of how far we've all come! Of how hard the generations before us fought for the right to not be seen as something unnatural but to be treated as a human being just the same as those who are heteronormative. I know to be able to write freely about sexuality is a truly privileged position and something I do not take for granted!
So let's try our best to dry the tears and put some smile (and a little bit of glitter) back on our faces! In this post, I'm celebrating my little section of the rainbow, paint yourselves pink and blue, it's time to celebrate all things bi!
Safe to say my sexuality isn't something I've really painted on the walls, partly because it's just always been a part of who I am. From the moment the girl sat next to me in History GCSE started doodling on my hand, sending me all a flutter to following my friend in youth orchestra around like a lost puppy, carrying her bags and her flute (along with my own cello!!) and never quite knowing why I found her boyfriend so irritating. Gender never seemed to matter, at least to the butterflies in my stomach.
But as relationships became more serious and the dating scene seemed to develop at a rate I couldn't keep up with, it was sometimes easier to stick with the conventional. Don't rock the boat, don't get into difficult situations where people would treat you differently. I'd seen first-hand what homophobia could do to careers and I wasn't ready for history to repeat itself.
3 years ago I finally "came out". I was sat absolutely bricking it in an Italian restaurant in front of my Mum, her wife and my very liberal brother. I took a breath and delivered the news...
"Yeah we know!"
It was completely unremarkable. Truth be told that's exactly how it should be. However maybe not so much so that your own mother forgets and you have to do it all over again a few months later.
These past three years I've felt much more at home dating whoever makes me laugh and gives me those all important butterflies, regardless of what gender they identify as. It's been incredibly freeing but it's not been without its tough spots.
We can't do a post celebrating being Bi without talking about the discrimination. As with all people who fall under our beautiful rainbow, being bisexual can often leave you wide open to some less than welcome comments. A few of my personal faves have been, "tourist", "straight girl playing gay" and the weirdest one made in direct reference to me possibly dating women was, "fuckboy".
What hurts about these comments is that they were made to me by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Not the warm welcome I was hoping for. There's biphobia on both sides and sadly I'm not alone in feeling this way. In her podcast Bad People, Dr. Julia Shaw described how one night at a lesbian bar, she and a woman she was with were heckled by lesbians for "pretending", only to leave the bar and get harassed by straight men thinking they were performing for their entertainment. Throw in being bisexual in a relationship with a man and the pressure you can sometimes feel to prove your sexuality can be overwhelming.
In Stonewall's Bi Report published in 2020 it says, "The research shows that bi people experience numerous, distinct types of discrimination. They are significantly less likely to be out to friends or family because they fear prejudice. However, when they look for support from other members of the LGBT community, they often experience rejection there, too."
In the same survey, 31% of participants said they had experienced insults, intimidation or harassment on account of their sexuality.
So what can we do?
Stonewall have put 10 brilliant points in their report a few of which I'll put here and more I'll put on my Instagram!
1. Believe us.
Bi people exist, and all bi identities are valid. It is all too common for bi people to be challenged and scrutinised on their identity. One bi person might generally date one gender, another might have been in a monogamous relationship with somebody for many years – and they can both still be bi. Believing bi people about our own identity is the bare minimum of allyship!
2. Make no assumptions.
Don’t assume someone’s identity based on their current or previous partner(s). The gender of someone’s sexual or romantic partners doesn’t define them. Take their lead on the language they use to describe their relationships and identity, whether they identify as bi, pan, queer, any of the other labels under the bi umbrella, or no label at all. Some bi people might also use the terms lesbian or gay to describe themselves in some contexts.
3. Recognise and challenge biphobia.
Whether it’s street harassment or a harmful generalisation about bi people, make sure to challenge biphobia when you see or hear it. Don’t leave it to bi people to do all the work, and support other allies when they challenge prejudice.
4. Celebrate us!
Amplify and celebrate bi people and their stories. Days like Bi Visibility Day are a great reason to celebrate us, but ensure that you’re also giving our identities and
experiences a platform throughout the year. As a start, look up bi creators on social media, follow them and share their content.
Okay let's get to the celebrating!
Jean- Baptiste Lully
Engaged by King Louis XIV as the court's royal composer, Lully had the opportunity to compose music and have it performed in a rather comfortable fashion. However...
Lully wasn't exactly known for being discreet, especially when it came to his private life. King Louis apparently could not turn a blind eye to Lully's brazen liaisons with both man and women. His affair with a music page named Brunet would lead to his downfall, after it was leaked to the general public who sang songs about it in the streets of Paris. When Lully died in 1687 he was firmly out of the King's favour.
Julie d'Aubigny or Mademoiselle Maupin as she was also known, was an openly bisexual 17th century opera singer and fencing master in France. Although little is know for certain about her life; her tumultuous career and flamboyant lifestyle made her the subject of gossip and rumour, even inspiring numerous novels including Mademoiselle de Maupin by Théophile Gautier.
D'Aubigny's main love came in 1703, when she fell in love with the “most beautiful woman in France,” Madame la Marquise de Florensac. According to what is known about d'Aubigny, the two women “lived in perfect harmony for two years”.
When de Florensac died of a fever in 1705, d'Aubigny retired from the opera and sought refuge in a convent. Obviously, when she died soon after at the age of 33, critics were quick to pounce with one writer saying d'Aubigny was “destroyed by an inclination to do evil in the sight of her God and a fixed intention not to, her body was cast upon the rubbish heap.”... charming!
Jamie Barton is an American mezzo-soprano of international acclaim. None of our can fail to remember her incredible performance of Rule Britannia! flying our rainbow flag at the 2019 BBC Proms.
Barton is openly bisexual and a huge advocate for queer rights and body positivity. After her BBC Proms performance Barton told journalists when it came to waving the flag, 'It’s not only a very important thing to me personally, but it’s also something I think unifies the audience. It’s not just queer pride, it’s a connective celebration of people being exactly who they are and loving who they are. And I’m honoured to get to lead that.'
Blogs and Pods:
These are just two of my favourites but please throw some more my way and we'll add them in.
Usually a true crime podcast, in celebration of Pride Month, Bad People hosts - criminal psychologist, Dr Julia Shaw and comedian Sofie Hagen - explore the history, science and culture of bisexuality. I cannot recommend this podcast enough, I have shocking binged their every episode in a month. Fans of true crime definitely need to check this out but everyone need to check out their three special podcasts dedicated to the world of Bi. In fact they're the largely the inspiration behind this article.
This is a self claimed 'blog aggregator' site, bringing together blogs about bisexual themes by writers across the UK & Ireland, with the aim of fostering a sense of a bisexual blogging community. This was completely new to me before I began writing this article but it's an absolute Aladdin's cave of conversations, news and personal experiences about our wonderful pink and blue world.
Being bi, like any other part of the rainbow can be really tough. Even writing this article the idea of hitting publish is genuinely terrifying. So it would be completely irresponsible if I didn't add places to find support.
The LGBT foundation has a specialised Bi Programme which aims to create a safe, social place for Bi people where they can meet, make friends, and improve their own wellbeing. Their Bi space includes bisexual/biromantic, pansexual/panromantic, polysexual/polyromantic, omnisexual/omniromantic, fluid, queer, and any other identities that experience attraction to multiple genders. Everyone under this umbrella is welcome.
The MU has a whole page dedicated to their LGBTQ+ family. Crammed pack not just with groups but also with helpful advice with regards to travelling, mentoring opportunities and auditions.
Whichever side you stand on with this group, they do have a lot of helpful resources that are available to anyone who needs them. In the link above, I've found their advice page, crammed with resources with everything from asylum to well-being
BiPhoria is the UK's longest-running bi organisation, based in Manchester organising meetups one or several times a month making a space to meet other bi people, share stories and make new friends.
The Bi Survivors Network is a group of bisexual survivors facilitating peer-led, online support groups for survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence/abuse.
They are also advocates for bisexual, pansexual, and other non-monosexual (bi+) survivors, working to ensure that our voices are heard and our needs met.
This is a treasure trove of everything you could ever need for being bi. From understanding whether this is the tribe for you, to understanding our history and everything about our flag. This group also have literally an index of safe places for us to be.
Your Own SU:
Your student union is also supposed to be a safe haven if needed. Most conservatoires now have a LGBTQ society so go find yours. If they don't, maybe it's time they did and that could be all down to you.
So there we have it. My little tribute to my corner of the rainbow!
Why not share the love by letting me know what you thought, if you have any bi people who really inspired you? Or maybe you feel there are links of groups, blogs and podcasts I missed. I love to hear from you, it's just one of the ways I make sure your voices are heard.
You can have more of your say by helping me with a very important project launching in September by filling in this very quick questionnaire.
All sources from this article can be found below!
Until next time,