The bisexual+ community joined forces in September to celebrate each other, fight stigma, and raise awareness about bisexual+ issues in honour of Bi Visibility Day.
Bi Visibility Day was first observed on September 23, 1999, in Johannesburg, organised by three bisexual activists: Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Wilbur.
Now, it’s a yearly celebration for bisexual+ people around the world.
“Bi Visibility Day is about deliberately taking up space in the world, standing up and standing out. Showing that we’re real, visible and here,” said Jay an admin of Bi+ Community Perth.
Bi+ Community Perth is a Facebook group that has regular meet-ups, providing a safe and supportive space for bisexual+ people to meet others in the community, with bisexual+ being an umbrella-term inclusive of all multi-gender attracted people.
“Bi visibility is important. Attraction to multiple genders is often overlooked, dismissed, ignored, and erased,” said Jay.
Bi Visibility Day is about bringing awareness to the lack of visibility and the unique set of issues faced by bisexual+ people.
Research has found that bisexual+ people have poorer mental health compared to lesbian, gay, and straight people, with the largest study yet being research led by La Trobe University’s Julia Taylor in 2019 that surveyed bisexuals living in Australia. This research highlights the lack of support given to mental health issues concerning bisexual+ people.
Curtin Guild’s Queer Department officer Dax Jagoe thinks that on top of stigma, in-community erasure and a general lack of respect for bisexual+ identities affect the mental health of bisexual people.
Bisexual+ people face what is often called double discrimination.
Misty Farquhar, an LGBTI+ advocate and PhD researcher with a focus on bisexuality and non-binary gender, said: “Double discrimination refers to how bisexual people are discriminated against in mainstream society and within the queer community.
“This makes it feel like there’s nowhere for bisexual people to belong, which is why community groups are so important.”
Mx Farquhar thinks bisexual-specific organisations are important to address bisexual+ issues and improve bisexual+ acceptance, as LGBTI+ organisations often leave bisexuality out in their work.
Mx Farquhar is also one of the founders of Bi+ Community Perth. In 2017, it was one of two organisations in Australia that focused on bisexual+ issues. Today, there are several groups all over the country.
This year, bisexual+ community groups across Australia and New Zealand joined hands to organise a 10-day-long conference called Stand Bi Us, which included a range of virtual and in-person events.
Mx Farquhar hopes that through events like Stand Bi Us, more attention will be paid to the mental health disparities faced by bisexual+ people, especially in terms of funding initiatives to address it.
Bi+ Community Perth hosted its annual picnic on September 27 in Russell Square as part of the Stand Bi Us conference. More information can be found on the website: https://www.standbius.com/.