Bisexuals are the silent majority of the LGBTQ community, says a report from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight, and analysis that help speed equality for LGBT people.
According to the report titled “Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them,” bisexual people make up about half (52%) of all LGB people in the United States. Those who identify as gay make up 31%, and those who identify as lesbian make up 17%.
Many people around you may be bisexual (and you don’t know it)
So why don’t we see these numbers evident in the general population? Why are bisexuals not as “out,” or well-represented and visible as the gay and lesbian population? The study, along with many other LGBTQ sources, point to several factors including a phenomenon known as “Bi invisibility” or “Bi erasure.” Bisexual people appear to be “invisible” in the general population because they often are misjudged based on the sex of their partner. If they are in a monogamous relationship with someone of the opposite sex, people often assume they are straight. If they are in a relationship with a partner of the same sex, people assume they are gay or lesbian. In either case, they may actually be bisexual. In fact, both partners may be bisexual, but no one would know unless they asked, and assumptions are made.
Bisexuals are often married with kids
Bisexuals are also more likely to be married and have children; if they are in a nuclear-type family situation with a mom, dad and children, people often automatically assume the mom and dad are straight. The report says the majority of bisexual people in relationships are in relationships with people of the opposite sex: 84% of bisexual people in a committed relationship are involved with someone of the opposite sex. In these situations, outward appearances would make the bisexuality of one or both partners invisible based on heteronormative bias that is prevalent in our culture.
Fear of coming out is real
Also, like gays and lesbians, many bisexuals remain closeted for fear of rejection by their closest friends and family members, fear of losing their jobs, and fear for their physical safety among other factors. This can present a whole set of barriers and stressors for bisexuals in general, but especially for those who are married or in a committed relationship but not “out” to their spouses. A recent study of bisexual men through Columbia University found that many men had not told and never planned to tell their friends, family, or female partners about their male partners because they anticipated negative emotional reactions and negative changes in their relationships.
Additionally, there are many people who admit to having same-sex attractions – and even same-sex sexual experiences – but do not identify as bisexual. The report notes:
“Responding to an online poll in 2015, 12% of Americans who identified as heterosexual said they had had same-sex sexual experiences (15% of heterosexual-identified women and 8% of heterosexual-identified men).”
How can it be that people who are attracted to, and have sexual experiences with, members of more than one sex do not consider themselves bisexual? Bias, stigma and other potentially negative outcomes may be a factor, but science has proven that sexuality exists on a spectrum. Some people have same-sex attractions and experiment sexually outside their self-identified orientation, but in the end it’s up to the individual to define how they identify.
The report says there are nearly five million adults in the United States who identify as bisexual and there are millions more who have sexual or romantic attraction to, or contact with, people of more than one gender. It explains how bias, stigma, discrimination, and invisibility combine to create serious negative outcomes for bisexual people, and it provides concrete recommendations for change.
The report was developed in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, BiNet USA, Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP), Bi Queer Alliance Chicago, Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), Center for Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality Los Angeles Bi Task Force (LABTF), National Black Justice Coalition, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and the National LGBTQ Task Force.
To view the full report, CLICK HERE
Source: lgbtmap.org and “Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them”