Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A Few Thoughts Of Christopher Biggins, Biphobia, And Bisexual Invisibility

The words of Christopher Biggins that recently got him thrown off a cheap TV show should throw a light not just on Biggins.

He's not unique.

He has attitudes that in some form are shared by too many people within the LGBTQIA++ community. Often the offenders are older gay men but not exclusively. Younger gay men and lesbians may also have similar views to Biggins. One marginalised group of people attacking one more marginalised group of people. Of course not everyone there looks down on bisexuals. But too many do.

Bisexual friends have told me of the biphobia they often encounter if they go to such places or are involved in a gay-dominated queer community, of how they are insulted there for being bisexual. They can tell the stories better than I could.

Bisexual people can be verbally abused from both sides. Prejudiced straight people attack them for being too queer. Prejudiced gay people attack them for not being queer enough.  Bisexual people are called confused.  They are called greedy.  They're accused of being promiscuous - that they're just bisexual to get lots of sex.  They're told it's just a phase and they'll get over it soon.  It's pointed out to them that everyone is a bit bisexual.  (Wrong!)  It's pointed out to them that they can't be bisexual because bisexuality doesn't really exist.  Basically, say you're bisexual and a surprising number of people won't accept your sexuality.
Bisexual people can also tell us of the problems associated with bisexual erasure within both the media and the (supposedly) LGBTQIA++ community.  Bisexual erasure.  That's a term that many readers will not have encountered.  That's okay.  It's a term that I hadn't encountered either until I came out as trans and started to learn at least something about queer issues.  It's not a term that you're likely to hear much.
I'm not going to talk about it here.  Others have talked far more eloquently than I would.  A very quick internet hunt led to this article on "Erasure of Bisexuality" and this article on "The LGBT Community's Dirty Little Secret."  The first article is an introduction.  The second is worth reading and shows how common the problem is.

Biggins is one man of many similar men and that he should have said the things he said comes as no surprise to me whatsoever.

Now is the time not to attack Biggins but to bring widespread prejudice against bisexual people into the spotlight. To deal with the prejudice and not just with one celebrity.

Yeah, that would be good. Wiping out biphobia. Wherever it is to be found.
Image from https://www.etsy.com/listing/194409681/bunnies-against-biphobia-sticker
So far I haven't spotted any major media channels doing that.  They've condemned Biggins.  Yes, the man said prejudiced things.  Yes, they were nasty.  And maybe the offense he would cause bars him from being on a television show that by its very nature is offensive to some.
Condemning Christopher Biggins this week is easy.  It's the stuff of soundbites.  It's the stuff of feeling good about ourselves because of our righteous anger against an imperfect human.
Tackling biphobia is hard.
No easy soundbites here.  No opportunity to pretend that everything is okay.  To tackle biphobia is to say that here is a way in which our society is still broken.  Here is something that needs fixing.  Here is real work that we need to do.
Here is the space in which each one of us has to take personal responsibility for how we think and what we believe.  We have to look at ourselves and check to see if our minds and hearts contain any taint of biphobia - just as we have to look at ourselves and check for racism, homophobia, and all the other ways we may have become prejudiced against other human beings.
Here is the place in which every single one of us has to take personal responsibility for bringing change to society by the way we speak and act or at least for never standing in the way of that change.

Tackling biphobia is work.

So call out Biggins for his attitudes.  Please do.  Just don't stop there.

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