Happy Bisexual Interviews: Marcus Morgan (The Bisexual Index)

Earlier this week I interviewed one the UK’s most prominent bisexual activists, Marcus Morgan, founder of The Bisexual Index and Teaching the Difference.  I wanted to find out what factors had been important for him in developing a sense of wellbeing and confidence in his bisexuality over the years.

Our conversation covered topics such as bisexual identity and community, coming out, and the importance of engaging with other bisexual people.

Here are some of the highlights from the interview:

How did you come to identify as bisexual?

Marcus Morgan: When I was a teenager I was gay, I wasn’t attracted to women at all.  So, the big priority for me was to move away from my family and community, and find a larger setting to explore my sexuality and the gay scene in the UK.  When I went to university I joined the gay society and started going out in London, and I met my first boyfriend, who I went out with for about two years.  I also moved into shared accommodation with other people from the gay community.

I started to find that I was having very strong feelings towards some of my female friends.  It wasn’t something that I acted on at the time, as I was clear then that I was gay, and my friends were lesbians.  I tentatively discussed it with one friend on one occasion. This led me to feel that something had changed. It wasn’t that I’d had a revelation about something that I’d been all along, or I’d found a side of myself I’d been suppressing.  I’d been quite happy being gay. I very much enjoyed the community, the pubs and clubs in London in the early 1990s. But I was now finding out a different part of myself.

I thought that if I am bisexual, then I need to meet other bisexual people, I need to find out how they see their sexuality.  I contacted a large lesbian and gay phone service, and told them I was looking for a bisexual group.  The person on the other end of the phone gave me the details of a group in London, and then he said to me, ‘I feel obliged to ask, are you sure you’re bisexual? Because a lot of people come out as bisexual as a stepping stone to coming out as gay. Wouldn’t it just be easier for you to come out as gay first?’.  I was taken aback by this and I said ‘Well, I’ve already come out as gay, I’ve been gay for nearly 10 years!’. He said, ‘Oh, well maybe you’re going in the opposite direction then and it could be a stepping stone to being straight for you.’  Anyway, he gave me all the details for the group.  Now it’s nearly 25 years later, and I’m still bisexual!

Six months later I plucked up the courage to go to the bisexual group.  It took me a while to build up the confidence to go because I was expecting the people at the group to be incredibly comfortable about their sexuality, and thought they might look down on someone who was uncertain. I didn’t have a mental image of what the people would be like, as there wasn’t really any imagery of bisexual people to hang onto at the time.

I went along to the bisexual group, and the person who opened the door was someone from my university gay society! ‘Hi Marcus, so, you’re bisexual too I guess!’, he said. It was the most amazingly warm welcome, because it was someone I already knew. It was just an amazing coincidence. It really made an impression on me about how spaces can be welcoming.  One of the things I’ve always tried to do, when I’ve welcomed people to bisexual groups myself, is greet them like they’re old friends who you’re meeting for the first time. I know how terrifying it can be to go for the first time, not knowing what to expect.


What advice would you give to someone who thinks they might be bisexual and are unsure what to do?

I would say find other bisexual people, particularly other bisexual people who are like you and talk to them. Not necessarily about bisexuality, just talk to them. Have the experience of it not being an issue. When I say ‘talk to’, I don’t necessarily mean face to face, it can be instant messenger or commenting on blogs, or tumblr or twitter, or whatever.

The most useful thing you can do is find somewhere that’s home for you. For me BiCon [the UK bisexual conference] is like how I think Christmas is supposed to be.  All the family gets together for a big meal and a bit of a party.  It’s my bisexual community getting together.  Find a bisexual group by contacting an organisation like BiUK or Bisexuals of Colour or BiNet USA.  Go along to a meeting or local group.  If you’re ok about going to a gay event, go to your local Pride, and find the Bi Stall or Bi group, and just try being bisexual on.  Not worrying about it. Just saying, ‘I’m bisexual, that’s ok’.  You don’t need to have a detailed talk about what it means yet, you could do that later. Just try accepting it, and finding a space where it can be accepted.


On defining bisexuality

When we set up The Bisexual Index in 2009, there wasn’t anywhere on the internet that set out an easy, understandable definition of bisexuality that people could look at and say ‘that seems to apply to me’. We provided a definition, that a bisexual is someone who is attracted to more than one gender. People can try it out for size.  If you like it you can keep it, if you don’t that’s fine.

Back then, if you went to the big gay organisations like Stonewall, they didn’t really define bisexual, or, if they did, they used very convoluted definitions. They’d say things like ‘bisexuality is a fluid attraction towards men and women that can be sexual and/or romantic’. The problem with that is they’d never give such a wordy description for being gay, and it made bisexuality this complicated thing.  And if bisexuality’s complicated, then how can you be sure you’re bisexual?  And if no one can be sure, then suddenly there’s no bisexuals anymore! I don’t think that’s a deliberate act on the part of the gay organisations, though I’m aware that other people do. I think it’s more about complete unfamiliarity, and that’s why it’s always better for people within a community to define the labels of that community.

– One of the great advantages that bisexual activism has over, say, pansexual activism is that people have already heard of the word ‘bisexual’.  So, if someone’s thinking, ‘I’m attracted to 99 girls and Billy in my woodwork class, does that mean I’m bisexual? Am I bisexual?’, we give them a definition as a mirror they can look in. Perhaps they can see their reflection, and say ‘yes, it makes sense, I’ll use that’. We’re very clear on saying to people that it’s not about being 50-50 or simultaneously or currently attracted to more than one gender.  It’s about being attracted to more than one.  Which is a broad scope, and people can see themselves reflected in that, I hope.


On identifying as bisexual & the importance of labels

One of the things people often say to me in Q&A sessions after I’ve given a talk, is ‘don’t you think we should just get rid of labels?’.  I can see that someone who’s confident about their sexuality and has a community and all their friends in place might want to stop being what they perceive as political about it, but labels are absolutely vital when you’re trying to find where you belong in the world. You’ve got to be able to see who is like me, who can I talk to about this stuff, without it being a big thing.

So when people say ‘we should move beyond labels’ or ‘label jars, not people’, I say ‘label yourself’, then find other people who label themselves, then compare labels. Then you can find people who are on the same page as you.  If we ignore labelling, then how can we monitor inequality, for example? If we’re not using labels then we’ve no chance.


On bisexual erasure and changing society

People don’t see bisexuality.  We sometimes talk about bisexual invisibility which is useful, but it’s not as useful as talking about bisexual erasure.  Bisexual invisibility is something that bisexuals need to fix about ourselves; bisexual erasure is something society needs to fix about itself.  The weight isn’t on bisexuals to be more visible, because the people who are out there being visible bisexuals are a tiny fraction of the number of people who are bisexual.

It’s far more useful if we can get people to stop assuming that everyone’s either gay or straight. We shouldn’t need to wear a purple T-shirt or a ‘nobody knows I’m bisexual’ badge for people to realise that maybe Bob in the office who’s mentioned that he was out with Jean last week and John this week isn’t talking about his brother, maybe he’s talking about a male partner, and a female partner, maybe he’s bisexual.

– All the surveys suggest there are more bisexuals than lesbian or gay people, but our society is so good at erasing bisexuality and only seeing people as gay or straight that we just don’t know the majority of bisexual people out there. So promoting inclusive definitions, giving people a chance to see themselves reflected in that; having open and welcoming bisexual spaces…these are small things we can do to turn the tide.


On the importance of the bisexual community

I think bisexuality’s really simple.  Bisexuality is not something that people agonise over once they get into a community where bisexuality is seen as something that’s simple and you can just be, and get on with it.

– I’ve had very little cause in the last two decades to doubt or be uncertain about who I find sexually attractive.  When I came out as bisexual and joined the bisexual community, I was immediately welcomed into a supportive group of people who were of very similar outlook and age to me. I was going to my first Bicon within 6 months of first attending a bisexual group.  I was writing for bisexual newsletters by then.  I’ve been lucky and privileged that the sort of things I was looking for in a social group were pretty much precisely the things the bisexual community at the time was providing. I had a very soft landing into bisexuality and I’ve not really had any need to question it or doubt it.

Marcus Morgan is founder and coordinator of The Bisexual Index, an activist network raising awareness of bisexuality and the issues that affect bisexual people.  He is also an equality and diversity trainer specialising in bisexual engagement and inclusion. His clients include major international companies, government departments and NGOs. He was an author of the Open University’s 2012 Bisexuality Report, and has written on bisexuality for The Guardian and various LGBT publications. 

3 reasons why identifying as bisexual will make your life better

Somewhere between 0.5% and 5% of the population self-identify as bisexual.  Many more people are attracted to both men and women, but choose not to identify themselves as bisexual. Why?

The primary cause is social stigma and prejudice.  Our culture doesn’t generally recognise bisexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation.  Bisexual people receive messages from society that bisexuality doesn’t exist, and that they are lying or confused gay or straight people.  We are told that bisexuality is a transitional phase, and that bisexuals are promiscuous and require simultaneous relationships with members of both sexes. Bisexual people rarely meet openly bisexual people in their social circles, or see them depicted in TV or film drama.

Society’s negative view of bisexuality undermines our confidence in our bisexual identity and often leads us to hide in the closet.  It’s common for bisexual people to identify falsely as straight or gay to avoid prejudice and ridicule.  I used to.

When I first came out as bisexual aged 19, my girlfriend told me that bisexuality didn’t exist and that I was just a confused and attention-seeking straight person.  When I came out to a friend, he told me that men who said they were bisexual were really gay.  My self-esteem plummeted. Instead of receiving support and acceptance, I was told that I didn’t know my own mind.  I decided that coming out as bisexual was a bad idea.

After that, I chose to hide my bisexuality.  I alternated between straight or gay identities depending on who I was with at the time.  This never felt right though, and not being able to be openly bisexual knocked my confidence.  I often felt unhappy.

In my late 20s, I realised that I would never feel comfortable if I couldn’t be honest about who I really was.  I finally began coming out as bisexual to everyone.  A weight was lifted, and my life got so much better.

So why exactly did identifying as bisexual make such a positive difference? For me it boils down to three things:

1) It Boosts Your Self-Esteem and Confidence

Assertively identifying as bisexual enhances your confidence and makes you feel better about yourself.  It’s true that if you hide your bisexuality, then you’ll avoid some of the prejudice and stigma directed at bisexual people. But there’s a cost.  You’ll never feel known and accepted by others.

We all want to be loved and accepted.  When we don’t receive enough love and acceptance, especially from the important people in our lives, then our confidence and self-image can be low.  If you choose not to identify as bisexual, then a major part of who you are will never be known and accepted, even by your closest friends and family.

In addition, if we don’t identify as bisexual because society doesn’t like it, then we validate society’s view that bisexuality is something to be ashamed of, or something illegitimate.  This can contribute to internalised biphobia, where we feel that there really is something wrong with our bisexual orientation and identity.

2) You Become Part of a Community

Identifying as bisexual connects you to a community of other bisexual people.  You can interact with bisexual people online via forums, blogs and vlogs, or in person at bisexual social and support groups.

It’s hugely empowering to engage with the experience of other bisexual people.  It helps relieve the sense of isolation that we commonly feel, and enables us to develop our understanding of our own sexuality.

Building relationships with other bisexual people will also reinforce your sense of bisexual identity.  Witnessing others confidently identifying as bisexual is a great confidence booster!

3) You Change Society

Identifying as bisexual challenges society’s prejudice and faulty beliefs about bisexuality.  Society says we don’t exist? Well, here I am, bisexual and proud! Society says this is just a phase? Well, I’m still bisexual!

Every person that identifies as bisexual and tells others about it changes perceptions, even if you only tell one person! The more people identify openly as bisexual, the harder it will be for myths and negative messages about bisexuality to survive. Identifying as bisexual, therefore, doesn’t just improve your life, but also the lives of others.

So, if you’re lacking confidence in identifying as bisexual, consider the benefits. It really can change your life!

If you’re struggling with being bisexual, or need support with any aspect of life relating to bisexuality, then I offer personal coaching services via Skype or phone.  Feel free to contact me to set up a free, no obligation 30 minute introductory session.

How to come out as bisexual

Coming out as bisexual can be a difficult thing to do.  We have to deal with a range of fears, including fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment and fear of being misunderstood.   While such fears are often unavoidable, if we get overwhelmed by fear then we can communicate poorly, making it hard for the person we’re coming out to to understand what we’re trying to say.

That’s why it’s worth thinking carefully through how you will come out, and making a basic plan to guide you, so that you don’t get thrown off course by your nerves.

There are many ways that you could come out, and you’ll probably want to stamp your individuality onto the guide below. The guide lays out some general principles which I hope will lay a foundation from which you can design a way of coming out which suits you and your personality.  Your backstory and current experience are unique to you, so be true to yourself and personalise your coming out in whatever way makes sense to you.

Most of the people we want to come out to, at least at first, will be the important people in our lives, such as partners, family and friends. This guide might not therefore be so appropriate if you are coming out to a work colleague or acquaintance.  However, many of the general principles in the guide could be applied to any coming out situation.

1) Accept and tolerate your anxiety about coming out

Anxiety is a normal reaction to the idea and process of coming out.  We might be afraid of rejection, misunderstanding, embarrassment, or prejudice among other things.  Accepting these nerves as unavoidable is crucial.  Anxiety doesn’t feel good, but it won’t harm you, and will subside shortly, especially after you’ve overcome the hurdle of actually saying, ‘I’m bisexual’.

Just let the fear be there, accept that it’s normal and inevitable.  It may help to reimagine the anxiety as a positive force that’s pushing you to come out, that’s wanting you to do something that will free you and make your life better.

2) Choose an appropriate time to come out

It’s important that there’s plenty of time and space to talk after you have revealed your bisexuality.  Choosing a private, calm and preferably familiar environment is sensible, so that the conditions are optimal for a relaxed conversation.  If you prefer a coffee shop or another relaxed public venue, and you think the person you’re talking to will feel comfortable there, then that could work too.

Try to avoid times when you know the person you’re wanting to come out to may be stressed – ie. just before or just after work.   Likewise, if they’re dealing with a particular stress or worry at a given time, then you might want to wait for another time when they are more relaxed before coming out to them.

3) Be as open as possible

Being open is important as it helps the other person understand your bisexuality better.  If they have any prejudices or faulty beliefs about bisexuality, then these will persist unless you can help them understand things differently, by explaining your bisexuality to them clearly.

It would be natural for the person you’re coming out to to have questions.  Be open to those questions, and make it clear that you’re happy to be asked and to share your experience.  This will establish that bisexuality is not a ‘sensitive’ topic which should be avoided, but a normal and interesting part of life, and something they can safely show an interest in in the future.

4) Explain you are bisexual using clear and simple language

Be straightforward in your word choice and descriptions so that it’s clear what you are communicating. Having an idea in advance of precisely how you’ll break the news can be very helpful, so that you don’t get overcome by nerves and find yourself rambling.

You could write down some ideas of what you want to say, and even memorise a few words or phrases that you’d like to include.

5) Affirm the importance of your relationship with the person you’re coming out to

Coming out is primarily something you do to improve your own wellbeing, but it can also help us build a better relationship with someone else.  Coming out is about wanting to involve another person more deeply in your life and experience. It’s about trust and intimacy and love, and enhancing all of these things.

So, if it makes sense to you, let the person know in your own way that they are important to you.  Doing so will also help put the person at ease, and underline the need for them to respond in a loving and considerate way to what you are telling them.

6) Dealing with any prejudice or negative reactions

For most people, coming out to the important people in their lives goes much more smoothly than they feared it might. This is because the people we are close to usually love us very much and want us to feel happy and free in our lives. Seeing us anxious or unhappy makes them unhappy too. Even if they find what you are telling them emotionally difficult, they will try to make you feel at ease and want to help and accept you.

However, sometimes we have to deal with a negative reaction from someone who we are close to, even if they are broadly kind and sympathetic towards us.  Even generally sensitive and decent people can hold some biphobic or homophobic beliefs.

If any such beliefs are expressed when you come out, it can be helpful to gently and calmly explain that those beliefs aren’t accurate.  Explaining the facts and true nature of bisexuality to others can transform their beliefs, which they have often arrived at not by rational thought, but by absorbing them from the wider society.

Biphobic and homophobic beliefs can also quickly wither away when someone realises that a person they love is bisexual.  Many times, casually held prejudicial beliefs are quickly reversed when someone is confronted with a bisexual person in their family or friendship circle.  You may even find that those who held such beliefs become your greatest supporters and champions.

Sometimes, sadly, biphobic and homophobic beliefs endure for longer.  When this is the case, we need to give a person holding such beliefs some time and space to reflect.

When you come out, if the person’s negative beliefs show no sign of changing during your conversation, then it’s probably better not to argue the point too much straight away.  Give them time to go away and consider what you have told them.

With continuing engagement with you as an ‘out’ bisexual person, they may come to abandon their beliefs over time.  Even if they cling on to those beliefs, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a valuable relationship with that person, although it may prove challenging to tolerate their views, especially if they are keen to express them.

This blog post is an edited extract from my bookHow to be a Happy Bisexual: A Guide to Self-Acceptance and Wellbeingavailable here.

5 Great Bisexual Coming Out Videos

If you’re thinking of coming out as bisexual, then learning how other bisexual people have come out can be really helpful. Coming out videos provide an intimate way of sharing in another person’s experience. Watching these videos can help you build confidence in your own bisexuality. They also provide useful practical information on how to come out.

There are a huge variety of bisexual coming out videos on YouTube.  Here are five of my favourites:

1) Laci Green – ‘Comin’ Out!’

This video neatly summarises the challenges of coming out as bisexual, and emphasises a crucial point: coming out is your choice and you should do it whenever it feels right to do it. You don’t owe it to other people to come out, and coming out isn’t about proving anything to others.  As Laci says in her inimitable style, ‘I didn’t owe shit and neither do you!’

2) Alan Cumming – ‘True Bisexual Stories’

It’s great when public figures talk openly and articulately about their bisexuality, as actor Alan Cumming does in this video.

3) Fiona Dawson – ‘Coming Out as Bisexual’

Fiona speaks eloquently about how proudly identifying as bisexual can help break down stigma and negative attitudes to bisexuality from both straight and gay communities. She says ‘I will always choose to be authentic’.  A great message!

4) Gregory Ward – ‘My Coming Out Bisexual Story’

Greg shares his experience of coming out to family, friends and work colleagues. He has a warm and gentle way of expressing himself, so this is an ideal video to watch if you’re feeling troubled about coming out and need some calm, reassuring words.

5) Rosie (Roxeterawr) – ‘My Coming Out Story’

This passionate and frank coming out video covers a lot of ground, including the experience of biphobia in relationships, and the challenges of coming out to parents. Rosie also debunks some of the many myths and stereotypes about bisexual people. An inspiring video.

If you’re struggling with being bisexual, or need support with any aspect of life relating to bisexuality, then I offer personal coaching services via Skype or phone.  Feel free to contact me to set up a free, no obligation 30 minute introductory session.

 

How coming out as bisexual can improve your life

There are many reasons why you might be considering coming out as bisexual.

You might be in love with someone and want to share that relationship with the important people in your life.  You might hate keeping secrets and want to be free to be yourself.

You might be troubled by your sexuality and need to talk it through with someone. You might want to start exploring new relationships, and share your experience with your family and friends.

You might want to tell an employer you are bisexual and that you want them to tackle biphobia in the office.  You might be out to your loved ones already, but want to come out more widely to increase the visibility of bisexuality in society.

There are all sorts of potential coming out situations, and many different motivations for coming out.

Coming out as bisexual is a very personal decision. It needs to feel right to you to come out. I don’t mean that you have to feel totally confident and comfortable about coming out – almost everyone will have to work through fear in order to come out. But it needs to make sense to you – it needs to be something that you want – that you hope will make your life better.

You may want to be out to some people and not others.  That’s fine – it’s up to you who you come out to, or indeed if you come out at all.

Accepting risk is an important step in the process of coming out. Your family might reject or think less of you; your same-sex friend might be uncomfortable around you; you could face discrimination or be treated unfairly.

But risk has to be balanced against reward – and the rewards of coming out are usually significant.  The level of intimacy in your relationships can increase; you can feel liberated from feelings of shame and worry, and you can experience a new freedom to explore your sexuality and find new relationships.

We also have to consider what the risks are of staying in the closet. For many bisexual people, the time comes when the pain of remaining closeted is greater than any potential pain of coming out.  It may seem safe to be closeted, but hiding your bisexuality can increase feelings of shame and low self-esteem.

Spirals of negative thoughts about our sexuality can go on and on when we don’t share who we are with others. By not coming out, we lose out on the love and support that a good friend, partner or family member can provide.

The process of coming out is often uncomfortable, sometimes painful, sometimes full of intense emotion, sometimes nerve-wracking.  It can involve working through embarrassment, fear and shame.

Coming out as bisexual can also be a powerful way of making a difference in society. Think back to your teenage years – did you wish there were some openly bisexual people in the public eye who you respected? Or how about in your personal social sphere – what if you had known a bisexual person who was living a happy life – a family member or friend?

The chances are that like me, you had no positive bisexual role models when you were young, and this impacted your self-esteem and led you to believe that it wouldn’t be possible for you to live a happy life as a bisexual.  Well, perhaps you could be that role model to others. Being out and open about your bisexuality offers someone else the chance to look at you as an example and understand that it is safe to come out and that you can lead a fulfilling life as a bisexual person.

Whatever the reason is that you’re thinking about coming out, it’s worth remembering that coming out usually has a very positive impact on your life, and many bisexual people discover that the things they feared might happen as a result of coming out, never actually happen. You might even change the world.

If you’re struggling with being bisexual, or need support with any aspect of life relating to bisexuality, then I offer personal coaching services via Skype or phone.  Feel free to contact me to set up a free, no obligation 30 minute introductory session.

How to know for sure that you are bisexual

At some point in their lives, most bisexual people will have asked themselves, ‘How do I know if I’m bisexual?’. You might be asking yourself this question right now. Often the implication of the question is ‘Am I a ‘true’ bisexual?’, as if there’s a gold standard or generic way of being bisexual.

For some, being a ‘true’ bisexual may mean experiencing equal attraction to men and women, or if not equal attraction, then a fixed and clear attraction that doesn’t change over time.  If we don’t match up to the gold standard, then we can feel we don’t qualify as bisexual.

The reality of bisexual experience is that it’s diverse and hard to pin down in simple categories.  There is no gold standard, just like there’s no gold standard for heterosexuality or homosexuality. Bisexuality can be fluid and variable. Levels of attraction can change and fluctuate, as well as respond to circumstance and who is around you at a particular time.   Many bisexuals, therefore, find it very hard to say whether they prefer men or women.

Some bisexuals will have felt attraction to men and women since puberty or earlier, while others find themselves first attracted to members of both sexes later in life, having experienced only straight or gay attraction up to that point.  Some bisexual people are also attracted to transsexual and transgender people.

Uncertainty about whether we are bisexual usually arises not because we don’t know what our sexual desires are, but because we live in a society which doesn’t yet have an established, shared understanding of what bisexuality is.  In fact, society throws out a range of confusing and negative messages about bisexuality.

Sure, the idea that a bisexual is someone who is sexually attracted to men and women is widespread enough, but along with that idea come a host of myths and stereotypes which serve to invalidate bisexuality as a legitimate identity and way of being.

Among the negative messages about bisexuality prevalent in our society is the idea that bisexuality doesn’t exist as an ongoing sexual identity.  This idea suggests that bisexuality is just a developmental phase or a period of confusion that ends in hetero or homosexuality.  Sometimes identifying as bisexual is seen as a cover story for insecure gay people or straight people trying to be edgy or cool.

Bisexuals have to put up with other misguided beliefs including the notion that bisexuals are sexually voracious and promiscuous, incapable of monogamy and unable to be satisfied without simultaneous male and female partners.

So, how do you know if you’re bisexual? Here are some helpful things to remember:

  • There is no such thing as a ‘true’ bisexual. There are many different ways of being bisexual.
  • You do not need to have had sex with members of both sexes to be bisexual.  The key factor is attraction.  A celibate monk who has never had sex, and a porn star who has had a lot of sex can both be bisexual.
  • You do not need to be attracted to both sexes in exactly the same way and to exactly the same extent.  You might prefer men, you might prefer women, you might not have a preference, or your preference may change over time – it doesn’t matter, you are still 100% bisexual.
  • It is absolutely fine to be bisexual and unable to say whether you prefer one sex or another.  Heterosexual and homosexual people are not required to say whether they prefer short or tall partners, or blonds or brunettes.  Likewise, you are under no obligation to clarify your sexual preferences for others.
  • Ultimately, if you are capable of sexual attraction to both men and women to any degree, at any time, then you can choose to identify as bisexual.  Choosing to assertively identify as bisexual is one of the most powerful things you can do to build self-esteem and confidence in your bisexuality.

If you’re struggling with being bisexual, or need support with any aspect of life relating to bisexuality, then I offer personal coaching services via Skype or phone.  Feel free to contact me to set up a free, no obligation 30 minute introductory session.

Why it’s hard to be bisexual and happy

Bisexual people face multiple barriers to living happy lives.

We suffer discrimination from both the straight and gay communities in the form of stigma and negative attitudes.  Myths and stereotypes about bisexuals are widespread – we don’t exist; we’re promiscuous; we can’t be monogamous; we need to have simultaneous relationships with men and women; we transfer disease from the gay community to the straight community; we’re confused; we’re going through a phase; we’re really gay; we’re really straight; the list goes on.

In most Western countries, the last ten years have seen huge advances in civil rights for gay and bisexual people, and attitudes to homosexuality are generally becoming more liberal.  Despite this, Western culture remains largely uncomfortable about bisexuality.

One study measuring social attitudes to a range of different communities (religious, racial, ethnic, political, sexual) found that bisexual people are viewed less favourably than all other groups except for intravenous drug users.

This unwelcoming cultural climate has discouraged bisexual people from coming out and assertively identifying themselves as bisexual.  Recent research shows that just 28% of bisexuals have come out to ‘all or most of the important people in their life’. The same research shows that 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians are out to their ‘important’ people.  Many bisexuals end up identifying as straight or gay, in order to fit in and avoid discrimination.

The marginalisation of bisexual people not only pushes us into the closet, but impacts on our life chances. Studies consistently show that bisexual people have significantly poorer health outcomes than gay and straight people, as well as higher rates of poverty and unemployment.  Bisexual people also suffer higher rates of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Given these facts, it’s not surprising that it’s hard for bisexual people to be happy.  If you’re bisexual and struggling, remember this: it’s not your fault – there are a range of social factors beyond our control that make life very hard for us.

What I’m trying to do in this blog is show that even in an often hostile society, it is possible to become comfortable with being bisexual.  There are practical steps we can take to build our confidence as bisexual people.

Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be writing about how we can deal with the negative attitudes of others, as well as dealing with the negative feelings we have towards ourselves. I’ll write about coming out, relationships, and a range of other issues that affect our sense of wellbeing as bisexuals.  I’ll share my experience, too, as someone who used to feel unhappy about my bisexuality, but now feels comfortable and happy.

We can learn to feel good about being bisexual.  I believe that the more confident and open we become, the happier we will feel, and the more society will come to recognise, accept and make a place for bisexual people.

If you’re struggling with being bisexual, or need support with any aspect of life relating to bisexuality, then I offer personal coaching services via Skype or phone.  Feel free to contact me to set up a free, no obligation 30 minute introductory session.