'Basically Straight' - Biphobia within the Gay Community
© Illustration by INJECTION - Laura Holtslag-Alvarez
Bisexual people often face hate from within their own community rather than outside of it.
“When speaking to girls on dating apps, I’ve received a lot of comments about how I am ‘basically straight’ or jokes about how they would never date a bi girl,” Lucy describes.
Lucy is just one of many bisexual people who have faced discrimination from within the LGBTQ+ community.
Discovering your sexuality can be a confusing and scary time. It can be difficult to process how you’re feeling, and a lot of worries can set in about how the people around you will react. It is no secret that homophobia and discrimination are still prominent in society, so fears around this are completely normal.
However, for the bisexual community, this discrimination can sometimes come from both inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. A survey by Stonewall revealed that 27% of bi-women and 18% of bi-men have experienced discrimination from within the LGBTQ+ community.
Many bisexuals feel as though they can’t belong to either group as they experience discrimination from both sides. From outside the gay community, bisexuals can often be fetishized and sought out with the assumption that they will be open to threesomes or other sexually open activities. From within the gay community, many view bisexuals as ‘not gay enough’ or going through a phase. Because bisexual people can sometimes be ‘straight passing,’ some within the LGBTQ+ community diminish the struggles that bisexual people face.
Of course, this doesn’t go for every member of the LGBTQ+ community. Many can be accepting and welcoming to bisexuals. But there is no denying that inside discrimination can occur and that many bisexuals will experience it at some point, which isn’t okay.
Lucy*, 19, a bisexual woman, said: “It took me a long time to come to terms with my sexuality, and yet I still don’t truly feel settled with it; I feel a sense of inadequateness. I am bisexual but have never had sex with a woman, and sometimes I am made to feel like a fraud: like I don’t have the right to call myself that.
“But then I think about it more, and I only had sex with a man for the first time less than a year ago, and before that, I never felt like a fraud saying I liked men, so there shouldn’t be any difference. I think being bi, there is a sense of needing to prove yourself; either you’re in a heterosexual relationship, and you feel like you’re not actually gay, or you’re in a gay relationship, and people just label you as a lesbian.
“There is definitely a stigma within the community. It’s not upsetting, but it’s just frustrating and makes me feel so invalidated. It’s hard enough to process your own sexuality without other people commenting on it too.”
There are countless examples of blatant biphobia within the community. One example is the discourse surrounding ‘gold star lesbians’ across social media. A gold star lesbian refers to a woman who has only has sex with other women. This term can be used to shame bisexual women into believing that they ‘aren’t straight enough to sleep with men.'
There are hundreds of other examples of biphobia in the community, from the use of slurs to name-calling and refusing to date bisexual people just because of their sexuality. If any other member of the LGBTQ+ community experienced this kind of discrimination, they would have a loving community to fall back on. Yet bisexuals are left to deal with this alone as often it comes from inside what is supposed to be their own community.
Amy*, 21, a bisexual woman currently in a same-sex relationship, said: “I experience all of the same discrimination and get called the same slurs as lesbians; I don’t get any kind of pass for being bi. Sometimes I think lesbians view me almost like an enemy as if I get all the positives of being gay but can pass as straight and therefore don’t experience any discrimination, which isn’t true at all.
“It’s particularly hurtful as the people within the LGBTQ+ community can surely remember how nerve-wracking it can be to come out and how horrible it can make you feel if it goes badly. I don’t understand why anybody within the community would want to inflict that hurt upon anybody else.”