Bi+ Health Awareness Month

This Bi+ Health Awareness Month, Jemma writes about how invisibility and fear of being excluded can lead to mental health struggles for Bi+ people.

Bi+ Health Awareness Month

15 March 2021

When I was 13 years old I was madly in love with one of my friends. When I think back on it now with my grown up eyes I recognise that familiar dilemma; did I want to be her or be with her? For me, it looked like dressing like her, creating situations to be with her, taking on her interests as my own, and I remember during one class at school a group of us made a game out of dice where we had to do whatever action the dice told us (lucky for me it included us kissing). I didn’t know anything about bisexuality. It wasn’t until I finally confessed my feelings to another friend, who was much wiser than myself, that I finally learned that there was a language for what I was experiencing. She said “maybe you’re bisexual?”

Anyway, I ended up meeting my first boyfriend and essentially burying that part of me for almost 10 years. Not from a place of shame, it was more an uncertainty or a complete lack of information and positive representation of what my life could look like. 

Feeling invisible

The idea of bisexual representation, or more specifically visibility is something that I’ve spent a significant amount of time talking and thinking about. I have that quite common experience among bi people of feeling invisible in the world (I’m speaking as a white, cisgender, femme woman). The world isn’t exactly structured in a way that both meets and supports my needs.

Invisibility is not just a matter of not feeling seen, often it manifests itself in the idea that your identity is not valid. Biphobia tells us that we are greedy, indecisive, or, attention-seeking. Many of us stop talking about our bisexuality when we’re in a relationship that reads as heterosexual, and we stray away from queer spaces for fear of being excluded, the same spaces meant to provide us with a feeling of safety and community. While sexual orientation does not make up our whole identity, repressing it means hiding part of who we are – which all too often leads to self-loathing, loneliness, and anxiety.

What I’m saying in all of this is that no wonder bi+ people (generally) have such terrible mental health.

Mental health resources

We’re at the end of Bi+ Health Awareness Month now, which is an opportunity to think about bi+ people’s needs and campaign for them. But it’s also an opportunity to share resources, so here are some of the things that have helped me to navigate my bisexuality and support my own wellbeing, that are available all year round:

  • Find yourself in books – I highly recommend The Bi-ble because it’s a collection of personal essays on bisexuality
  • Join local groups – obviously the COVID-19 pandemic makes this more tricky but a quick online search throws up lots of online and offline options! The Bisexual Resource Center also has a list of groups on their website.
  • Use social media to reflect, challenge, and educate yourself. I love @bihistory on Instagram and Twitter!

You can find out more about Bi+ Health Awareness Month here.

Jemma Tracey is Communications Coordinator at Copenhagen 2021.