Taking the Bi out of Invisibility: Advocating for the Bisexual Community Through Consciousness-Raising
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This project highlights the importance of advocacy and the power of persuasion for social issues, specifically the bisexual identity. Many bisexual people experience harmful stereotypes, discrimination, and violence at alarmingly high rates. Bisexual people are often judged by queer and heterosexual people as they are seen as either too queer for straight spaces and too straight for queer spaces. Through a rhetorical analysis of Misty Gedlinske’s speech "Bisexuality: The invisible letter ‘b’", consciousness-raising emerged as a salient and vital tool to educate and bring together bisexual people and allies who all agree on a common goal: to eliminate the disparities experienced by bisexual people. Through consciousness-raising, queer and nonqueer individuals will be able to understand the bisexual identity, provide language and agency for bisexual people, and develop the tools needed to locate and dispel harmful, biphobic rhetoric. The more recognition that bisexuality receives as a legitimate sexual orientation and not merely as a half-way point for men “on their way to being gay” or as a strategy for women to gain the attention of straight men, the more likely bisexual individuals will feel comfortable disclosing their identity to family, friends, coworkers, and healthcare professionals. While it is the right of any individual to choose when, how, and to whom they disclose their sexual orientation to, the damaging effects of concealing one’s identity and living in secrecy cannot be ignored. Similarly, while choosing not to disclose one’s sexual identity to healthcare professionals is many times a strategy to avoid discrimination and disparaging comments, the impact this can have on human health, such as not knowing practices to prevent STIs, is extremely concerning. Furthermore, as bisexual people are continually underrepresented in medical research, bisexual people are less likely to feel empowered to disclose their identity and receive adequate care. Overall, by utilizing consciousness-raising in online formats such as TED talks and other free services that are similar can help eliminate some of these troubling statistics, while also providing support to bisexual people all over the world, including places that continue to censor this type of information and replace it with pseudoscientific research and religious doctrine that suggest bisexuality is a choice, unnatural, and sinful.