Throw away bi-erasure this Valentine’s Day

We are familiar the idea of straight love as well as queer love. But there are people who are left out at this time of year.  

Bisexual people are not well represented by Valentine’s Day nor in many other aspects of life. This leads to what is called biphobia.  

Laurier Brantford student Samantha Quinn identifies as bisexual and told me about her experiences with Valentine’s Day.  

Although she does not necessarily celebrate Valentine’s Day, she has some thoughts about it.  

Quinn feels Valentine’s Day is “very straight couple-based”. She believes that the idea caters more to males getting their girlfriends flowers, for instance – “Even though it’s ‘LGBT’,” she added, referring to the inclusion of bisexuality in the LGBT community. However, the “B” can often be forgotten or pushed to the side.  

Quinn says a bisexual individual might not be “taken seriously on either side of the spectrum”.  

In Canadian society – and especially in university settings – same-sex couples and gay individuals are much more accepted today than they were even five or ten years ago.  

But there is a harmful lack of bi visibility in the gay community.  

“There is a lot of biphobia in the gay community,” Quinn said. “I call myself gay, I don’t say I’m bisexual. Just because it’s a blanket term and it’s just easier to say than directly describing who I’m sexually attracted to.”  

About bi-erasure Quinn said: “it can make you feel very ostracized out of the straight and the gay community. Kind of like you’re stuck into your own group of people.”  

Sonali Bhatnager, a criminology student at Laurier Brantford, has found that people “are afraid of what they don’t know.”  

Even if she is in a relationship with a gay person, she has felt she still had to explain her sexuality to prove its validity and prevent bi erasure within that relationship.  

As the pendulum has swung left in recent years and as we grow more tolerant of people who are different from ourselves, we have generally swept right over the middle of the spectrum. As a result, society has a fixed mindset: it’s black or white.   

“You’re either gay or straight,” says Bhatnager. “And everything else is ‘are you sure about that?’ kind of mentality.”  

Quinn and Bhatnager shared the thought that one’s identity is frequently assumed based on who their romantic partner is.  

“People don’t look at it as spectrum of what you’re interested in,” Bhatnager says.  

Does a bisexual female feel safe and respected in Laurier Brantford’s community? The answers are varied, reasonably so. Not everyone has the same experiences and journey.  

Quinn says she feels much more respected if she does not mention her identity in conversation so as to not be perceived differently.  

On the other hand, Bhatnager does feel welcome at Laurier Brantford.  

“I do feel pretty accepted,” she says. “In general, sexuality never really comes up for me. When I have brought it up, I’ve been treated like a regular person, and for me that matters more than being treated like anything else.”  

There is a common misconception that bisexuals are unfaithful simply because they are attracted to both biological sexes.  

“[This stereotype] is obviously not true,” Bhatnager states.  

Communication and education are important in a bisexual relationship for these reasons, just like in all other relationships.  

“It’s frustrating having to constantly feel like you have to defend or bring up the fact that your sexuality is valid,” Bhatnager expressed.  

Regardless of its place on the human sexuality spectrum, regardless of who one might be attracted to, every sexuality is valid and unique. Two people who both identify as bisexual may have completely different experiences. There is no rulebook.  

Proud bisexual actress Stephanie Beatriz has written about her experiences and what she has learned as an openly bisexual woman. One piece that stands out is her article for GQ, which is about her coming out as bi, being out in the spotlight and how important it is to live one’s truth.  

Beatriz also talked about her upcoming wedding and her fiancé, who is a man.  

She, in no uncertain terms, explained that her relationship to a male did not reduce her “bi-ness”.  

She also spoke on the subject of not being easily identified and others’ assumptions of her based on who her partner is.  

“…Sexuality is an intimate thing that I’m still in the process of discovering daily—that’s the nature of all of our sexualities,” Beatriz wrote in her article.  

Another fantastic article written for The Daily Pennsylvanian is called ‘Gay, lesbian, bisexual couples also celebrate Valentine’s Day’. It talks about the how a same-sex couple may celebrate the holiday differently than a straight couple.  

The conclusion is pretty clear: Valentine’s Day does not mean anything different for gay, lesbian and bisexual couples.  

This article has a quote saying, “I think that gay relationships are about love and intimacy in the same way that heterosexual relationships are.”  

“Valentine’s Day is just as much an occasion for us,” the article continued.  

On a day meant to celebrate love, however capitalistic it may be, why should one group of people be judged differently for who they love?  

By now it may feel cliché to say, but love is love. It does not bend for one day or one person’s expectations of someone else.  

“The best and really only thing most people can do is educate yourself and educate those around you,” Bhatnager said. “A lot of ignorance and prejudice are from places of confusion and of not knowing how to treat people that are different from them.”  

“It’s more than just gay and straight, but a spectrum,” Bhatnager said. “It would benefit our society to really dive into what could be in that spectrum instead of just one or the other.”  

If a same-sex couple can celebrate Valentine’s Day and show their love and a straight couple can do the same, bisexual relationships can too.  

Bisexuals are people, just like any gay or straight person. Their love is just not limited to one sex. Just love itself, that is beautiful and natural. 

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