In June 2015, I attended my first Gay Pride, Pridefest in Denver. The purpose of Pride is to support LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transexual) issues. Pride is also an unapologetic celebration of loving who you are. However, by the end of the weekend Pride felt like a celebration of who you are- unless you are bisexual.
Bisexual people are sexually attracted to both men and women. Bisexuality is neither new nor a fad. As early as 1948, researchers of human sexuality have suggested that for many people sexuality lies on a spectrum. This gray area between gay and straight isn’t small; bisexuals make up about half of the LGBT community. However, Pride focuses exclusively on trans, gay, and lesbian issues. This wide underrepresentation of bisexuality in the LGBT community is called bisexual erasure. Basically, biisexual erasure is the belief that bisexuals do not deserve equal status or inclusion in the gay or lesbian community.
Bisexuals have been crucial in the LGBT community. The Mother of Pride, Brenda Howard, was a bisexual woman. The commonly used gay pride song “Born this Way” was written by a bisexual woman, Lady Gaga. The gay community commonly uses the song in floats, signs, and at booths but still ignores Lady Gaga’s and other’s bisexuality. The first “lesbian” marriage included a bisexual woman, Robyn Oaks, who was widely referred to as a lesbian in the media. Despite the importance in bisexuals in the LGBT community, bisexual erasure and biphobia are not only exclusive to straight society. Bisexuals work hard for gay rights and then are shunned for their sexuality by the group they are meant to be included in (LGBT).
Bisexuals deal with similar issues and struggles as the gay community and often fight for gay rights right along the gay community. Bisexuals have to come out, deal with hatred and misunderstanding, and fight for the right to be with the one we love. The gay and lesbian community refuse to acknowledge these similar struggles. The gay community will say things like “it is just a phase” despite their own fight to not hear those comments from straight people. Unfortunately, it is common for the LGBT community to add to bisexual struggles.
Hatred from the gay community isn’t something exclusive to Pride Festivals. But it is especially discouraging to see biphobia during a celebration of being yourself. There was absolutely no representation of bisexual colors, no floats representing bisexuality, and nothing being sold for bisexual awareness. I realized an under-representation of bisexuals I asked a vendor if they had bisexual shirts because all I saw were lesbian, gay, and trans pride shirts. The vendor actually got angry and cursed at me for asking.
Bisexuals weren’t underrepresented at Pride because there aren’t enough of us or because Denver Pride was too small. Some of the booths and floats were incredibly specific to small sub -communities but ignored bisexuals. For example, there was more representation for straight allies (those who support the LGBT community and fight for their rights) than there was bisexuality. Even communities who are not fighting for rights or exclusive to the LGBT community were represented, like the leather or BDSM community. The only acknowledgment of bisexual existence in Denver Pride was the “B” in LGBT. Because bisexuality is not at all rare, I have no doubt that this underrepresentation of bisexuals at Pride is caused by biphobia and hatred from the gay community.
Bisexuality is largely underrepresented at most Pride festivals. At 2014 New York Pride, three grand marshals were elected to lead the Pride parade. There was representation from the gay, lesbian, and transsexual communities. All parts of the LGBT community were represented, with a huge slap in the face for bisexuals. Time and time again bisexuals are shunned by the group claiming to include them. Acceptance of bisexuality isn’t going to come anytime soon if the gay community won’t even accept us. The next time you go to a Pride festival don’t forget the bisexuals, after all, there is still a B in LGBT.