…and bisexual?

BCN 101 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 101, July 2010

Time we all got active about challenging bi invisibility
A second installment of news from our readers pressing organisations to do better on the “B”.  Let us have your stories – good or bad!  To [email protected]

Dear Stonewall

I’ve recently become a Stonewall supporter, due mainly to your recent good work researching the challenges faced by bisexual people in the workplace.

However, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when reading, on page 21 of your latest issue of Friends magazine, your suggestion that the Stonewall ‘Love your inner lesbian’ campaign celebrates bisexual women and encourages them to take better care of themselves.

Research clearly indicates that LGB folk with a positive sense of sexual self-identity are more likely to look after their sexual health. A recent study of bi-identified people found that they were more likely to use sexual health services provided in a context which recognised and affirmed their bi identify.

In the face of such evidence, why is Stonewall spending money giving out a message implying that bisexual women are really lesbian inside?

This risks wasting all the potential goodwill Stonewall could have with bi women, as a result of your recent research initiative, and also risks reinforcing the belief (commonly held in the UK bi community) that Stonewall is biphobic.

Bisexual women are not ‘lesbian inside’, or ‘straight inside’ – we’re bi inside and out.

If Stonewall genuinely seeks to support bi people, it first needs to do the work – within its own ranks – of challenging the myth that sexuality is either gay or straight and anyone who says otherwise is lying.  Messages that suggest that ‘deep down’ everyone is either heterosexual or homosexual play into this myth, and worsen biphobic prejudice.

In Stonewall’s ‘Bisexual People in the Workplace’ report, the first key issue identified by respondents was ‘lack of awareness’ – i.e. ‘lack of understanding and knowledge of bisexuality’.  The wording of the Stonewall ‘Love your inner lesbian’ campaign betrays exactly such lack of awareness.

I wouldn’t expect my lesbian-identified friends to wear a “Love your inner bisexual” T-shirt as part of a lesbian women’s health campaign – how could that ever be appropriate, or effective?

I’d strongly suggest that Stonewall rethinks its assumptions about bisexual women’s sexual identity, and not risk allowing the ‘Love your inner lesbian’ campaign to discourage bi women from taking their sexual health seriously.

Yours sincerely,
Lisa Colledge