Piquing People’s Bi Pinterest

BCN 119 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 119, Summer 2013

For those who are unfamiliar with Pinterest, it’s a website where users can upload images or ‘re-pin’ other peoples’ in order to create their own virtual notice boards.

Whilst I love using the site, I’ve recently become frustrated with the kind of images people are tagging under bisexuality. As with many other search engines and photo sharing sites, the word bisexual mostly brings up images of scantily clad ladies kissing and generally fawning all over each other. Now that’s not necessarily a completely bad thing, but we all know there is a lot more to bisexuality than that. These search results fuel ideas such as we’re hypersexed or that it’s just something some women do to turn on men. Nearly all the photos in the search result are of women. Where are the photos of men (other than Alan Cumming)? It makes for a depressing pinning experience.

Fortunately it’s not all bad news. One of the great things about Pinterest is that it’s a brilliant tool for sharing information in a quick and concise way. Many users have uploaded or re-pinned info-graphics about bisexuality that, for example, dispel myths and explain what phrases are biphobic and why. The site has over 10 million users, and pinning is an easy and efficient way to share important information to an audience that may not know much about bisexuality let alone search for it. It’s also a great resource for LGBT people and those who know or work with them. I have learned things from the site and often save images to show colleagues, friends or family.

On a lighter note, it’s also fun to see the silly pictures people come up with and what kind of bisexual related accessories and clothing you can buy. I quite enjoy starlightify’s  cartoon of the “bisexuwhale” as well as a photo of a mug with “bisexualitea” written on it.

I really want to be part of changing the content people find when they search for bisexual on Pinterest, so I’ve made my own board on bisexuality. I make sure every picture on it is labelled with either #bi, #bisexuality or #bisexual, as when you click on a hashtag it will show you other images that include the same hashtag, word or phrase in a pin description. This will also make your images easier to find.

If you use Pinterest regularly you’ll see the same images over and over again as more people re-pin pictures than upload new ones, so it’s great to upload any new material if you can. It doesn’t have to be your own stuff, you can pin images from websites and Pinterest will embed a link to that site in the picture. It’s a great way to share links to LGBT resources on the Internet, and I’ve pinned things such as the website for BiCon and the “Getting Bi in a Gay / Straight World” booklet.

For me the best thing about pinning for bisexuality is that I don’t even have to get out of bed to do it, but it gives me a voice and when someone likes a picture, re-pins it or starts following my board I know I’m making a little bit of a difference.

Hannah Bee


BCN’s Pinterest Page is here