A December 2015 study in the Journal of Bisexuality found that gays and lesbians had nearly identical prejudice against bisexuals as heterosexuals1. But most bisexuals don’t need a study to affirm that fact, and failure to acknowledge biphobia from within and outside LGBT communities is extremely harmful.
Failure to acknowledge and address biphobia has had a powerful impact on bisexual health, forcing our risk factors to skyrocket past those of gay and lesbian people.
Nearly half of bisexual women have considered or attempted suicide2. They have higher rates of mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, compared to lesbians or heterosexual women3. One in two bisexual women has experienced severe violence by an intimate partner as opposed to one in three lesbians and one in four heterosexual women4. Bisexual women are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as lesbians5, are less likely to be out to their doctors,6 and are more likely to smoke and have substance abuse issues7.
The stats for bisexual men aren’t much better. One in three bisexual men has considered or attempted suicide8. They are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than gay men9. Nearly half of all bisexual men suffer from mood disorders10, while one in three has experienced rape, violence, or stalking by an intimate partner as opposed to one in four gay men.11 According to the CDC, half of black bisexual men and a quarter of bisexual Hispanic men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes—the same as gay men.
On April 16, the #StillBisexual campaign will join the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 360, the health and wellness fair for LBTQ women, to help educate attendees about the unique health needs of our community. I hope that through raising awareness about the campaign and the abysmal bisexual health statistics, our community as a whole will finally get funding and policies in place to address our health disparities. But that will only come through raising awareness and empathy about the bisexual experience—and gaining allies to help us put an end to the prejudice against us.
A community is only as strong as its weakest members. And though it may be hard for gays and lesbians to relate to what it’s like to be attracted to more than one gender, it is crucial that they try to accept and support the needs of all LGBT members. For the past 40 years, bisexual people have tried to address the needs of our community on our own. We failed. Why? Because every community needs allies. Without straight allies, the larger LGBT community never would have achieved the right to same-sex marriage and the resources to combat the AIDS crisis. Without LGT allies, the bisexual community will never have the opportunity to face a future without stigma, poverty, and illness. And given that bisexuals comprise the largest population within the LGBT community, that right is long overdue.