Different for bis: the latest research – October 2019
It has been a while since we reported on research published in American academic quarterly The Journal of Bisexuality.
Volume 19 issue 2 focused on the intersections of being Black and bisexual. One paper that stood out for me was Galupo, Taylor & Cole’s “I Am Double The Bi” report on positive aspects of the combined experience of being bisexual and biracial.
Three out of four (73.8%) of their 107 interview subjects in an online survey reported positive experiences relating to this kind of dual-bi identity. A single-item prompt invited open-ended responses, so this research is qualitative exploration of what people talk about given the opportunity. I wonder at the gender split – 72 women, 10 men, 24 other – where are the bi men? The quotes in the report also seem skewed toward those in their 20s and 30s.
The first step they report was looking at the demographics of the 73.8% and the rest. “There was no significant demographic difference between those individuals who did, versus did not, report positive experiences.”
But on to the voices given space in the research: first the minority take on it:
“I can’t think of a positive. I personally get no benefits from this” (pansexual/bisexual Black/White and Haitian/Caribbean 19-year-old ciswoman from South Carolina).
“I can’t think of positive aspects of being bisexual, but being biracial allows me to experience a different cultural identity that shaped my life” (pansensual/ pandemisexual Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and White 22-year-old gendernonconforming person from New York).
But those were the minority of responses. Comments from participants who did report positive aspects to their double-bi life included:
“The whole world is my oyster! I’m able to see beauty in not just every gender but in different presentations of gender and in different ethnic features. I feel like I have a unique voice to add to every conversation” (bisexual, Hispanic and White 19-year old transgender nonconforming person from California).
“Cannot be boxed into a definitive label. I’m very much my own person” (bisexual, Asian/White, 27-year-old cisman from California).
“I definitely feel like I defy all labels and norms and that is in some ways really fun/ playful/ freeing. Gender and race aren’t really real things (despite racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia being very real) and I feel like I help to prove that.” (queer/pansexual Black and White trans nonbinary person 25 years old from New York)
Some talked about how they connected to multiple communities and felt benefits from that:
“I get the best of both worlds in so many ways, and am part of great communities and cultures” (pansexual/queer Hispanic and White 22-year-old ciswoman from California)
“I’m very proud of my identity. I feel a strong bond with the LGBTQ community, and with my culture” (queer Asian and White 20-year-old ciswoman from New York),
“I have more of an ’in’ with different groups” (pansexual Asian and White [Hafu/hapa] 25-year-old ciswoman from Nevada),
“Understanding bisexuality really helped me a lot to understand my own racial identity” (queer, Black and White 33-year-old ciswoman from Rhode Island).
We often talk about the challenges of intersectional oppressions. It’s good to pause and remember how multiple identities can be a boon as well.