Saturday 16 May 2020

Bisexual Erasure…

Even From Those Within The LGBTQ+ Community
Lydia Carter
MA Sociology

Most of you probably know what I am talking about when I say: ‘Bisexual Erasure? Definitely a Thing’. For those who don’t know- which is fine, everything is a learning curve- ‘Bisexual Erasure’ refers to a pretty common tendency of those both outside of and within the LGBTQ+ community to ignore, remove, or re-explain blatant evidence of bisexuality. This evidence might exist in history, academia, literature, or news media. Oscar Wilde? Bi as heck, guys. The most extreme extent of this erasure is the belief that bisexual people simply do not exist, which is almost definitely an excuse that I am going to use for my next assignment. ‘Why is my submission late? Well, I don’t exist!’.

The most recent example of bisexual erasure that I have seen, happened only recently when the activist and celebrity Jameela Jamil came out as queer on Twitter. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, India Willoughby, transgender newsreader, broadcaster, journalist and reality television personality, did not agree. She promptly accused Jameela Jamil of what can only be regarded as queerbaiting, accusing her of attempting to draw in an audience for a Reality TV Show that Jamil was due to judge on. The show will focus on bringing the ballroom culture of the 80’s and 90’s that still exists today to mainstream culture. Pushing aside the fact that Jameela Jamil has acknowledged her sexuality on the internet before, because this shouldn’t matter, one part of Willoughby’s Tweet stood out: ‘She’s got a boyfriend’.

Why does that matter? I’m a bisexual woman and have never had a girlfriend. Does this mean I ever doubt my sexuality? Of course not! I know bisexual people who have only ever dated those of the opposite sex. Does this make them heterosexual? No. I know bisexual people who have only ever dated those of the same sex. Does this make them homosexual? Can you guess? No, it doesn’t.  

It is bad enough that so much of history, and so many parts of the world today, have made it nearly impossible for people to live freely within their sexuality or gender. History is littered with voices that were kept quiet because of something as simple as their sexuality. I have always viewed the LGBTQ+ community as a place of freedom, of love, and of pride. To this day, I will say that the safest I have ever felt is when I visit London for Pride. There is no hate, no judgement, and certainly no one telling others how to express themselves.

To have somebody attack a woman who has been forced to state her sexuality publicly, in response to those who were angered by her appearing on a ballroom-based television show, is bad enough. But to then have that person, who purposely attempts to erase Miss Jamil’s sexuality based on their own prejudiced opinion, identifying as a member of a community that should spread love and not hate, is simply not on. 

One can choose to pick a label and identify as that, with bisexuality, pansexuality, sexually fluid, queer or purely ‘not doing labels’:  these are all different ways to identify and indicate that you are not exclusively attracted to either men or women. I could elaborate on the fact that many people refuse to acknowledge the differences between bisexuality and pansexuality, but I’ll leave that for now. Jameela Jamil has identified as queer, and it is our job to support her in that fact. We should celebrate that we live in an age where ‘coming out’ is far easier than it used to be- while acknowledging that it is not this way for everyone- especially for a non-white woman. 

Gay, straight, transgender, non-binary, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, queer – be whatever you want to be, and allow others to be those things, too. The world has enough problems without spreading hate when there should only be messages of encouragement and love.

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