It’s internationally recognised as Bi Visibility Day, but just how visible are bisexuals?
Let’s start with looking at just how many bisexuals there are in the UK. YouGov Research tells us that bisexuals are by far the biggest subgroup in the LGBT, particularly amongst young people. YouGov found that 43% of Brits aged 18 to 24 didn’t identify as entirely gay or straight, compared to only 6% who identified as completely homosexual. This means that young people in the UK are 7 times more likely to fall under the bi umbrella than be gay.
Similarly, the Office for National Statistics has released data that shows a 45% increase in young people identifying as bisexual in three years.
Whilst it seems many people will admit their sexuality to pollsters and researchers, coming out to people in their personal life is a very different story. Pew Research Centre found that only 12% of bisexual men were out of the closet compared to 77% of gay men.
So perhaps while we’ve done a good job at making gay men accepted, the same cannot be said for bisexual men.
The buck doesn’t stop there unfortunately, when it comes to being out at work, the situation is even worse. The Workplace Equality Index found that Bisexual employees are eight times as likely to be in the closet compared to lesbian and gay counterparts with 55% of bisexual employees not out to anyone at work.
The UK currently has no mainstream bisexual magazines which means the conversation around bisexuality never evolves. Indeed there seems to be no bi-specific media source in the UK sufficiently funded to be able to pay celebrity, secure advertisers and profile bi voices.
Media representation aside, the real tragedy is that bisexual people are rarely visible to each other. Many bisexuals report not having other bisexuals in their friendship group meaning they don’t have people around them sharing the same experience. This could be a result of the UK having no specific venues for bisexual people, limiting the chances of bisexual people being brought together.
As this bisexual writer can attest – I’ve never knowingly been in the same room with even ten other bisexuals my age.
To answer the question I asked at the beginning of this article, ‘bisexuals are not very visible at all.’ Today is Bi Visibility Day, it’s a chance for everyone to show their support, learn and celebrate bisexuality. A day is a nice sentiment, but please don’t just tweet your support and forget about it, we need to continue the effort all year round.
Follow Lewis Oakley on Twitter @lewyoaks