Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA
Learning about sexuality, bisexuality and biphobia is crucially important as we all work towards becoming stronger allies for the LGBTQIA+ community. For me, learning about these topics has helped me in my own journey in exploring my sexuality, and as quite a few of my friends identify as bisexual or queer, I think it is important to share their experiences. It is so important that we continue to educate ourselves, look within ourselves and respect others in how we conduct ourselves. Here are all my ideas on the experience of bisexual people, what we can do to be better ally’s and how we should also be on a continual journey of self-discovery!
There is a need for more education about sexuality, gender, and sexual identity in schools.
Unfortunately, a lack of sharing of accurate and truthful information around this has a flow-on effect, resulting in adults who are unaware of the various identities and expressions. This lack of awareness can result in adults being prejudiced towards individuals who are apart of the LGBTQIA+ community.
However, there is still a gap in Australian curriculums around this, so we must take it upon ourselves to be educated on sexuality, gender, and sexual identity.
Be kind and respectful of others.
It takes little to no energy to be kind to others – to listen to what they have to say and respect them. A fundamental way to show respect is to ensure we use people’s correct pronouns when talking to or about them. It is also important that we accept an individual’s identity without questioning and interrogating them.
By accepting individuals for who they are and not questioning or bringing in our own stereotypes, we are helping to improve the mental health outcomes for LGBTQIA+ people. It has been shown that people who are a part of the LGBT+ community have significantly worse mental health outcomes. This comes from a lack of support, bias, prejudices and stereotypes around people’s sexuality, gender, and sexual identity.
The experience of being bisexual.
As more and more of my friends shared their experiences, it became apparent to me that biphobia is experienced regularly by bisexual people. From what my friends shared with me, their experiences of prejudicing and stereotyping not only came from people who were prejudiced against the LGBTQIA+ community but also from members of the community.
Biphobia can also be internalised by a person towards themselves. Through exploring biphobia and the experience of being bisexual, it has been shown that bisexual people often have worse mental health outcomes than heterosexual couples and individuals in gay or lesbian relationships. Bisexual people also experience invisibility and erasure due to assumptions that are made about their sexuality based on their intimate partners.
However, it is also important to share that for many people, coming out as bisexual was a positive experience. Many of my friends felt a massive sense of relief. They felt as if they were finally happy and comfortable with who they were, and as if everything they felt finally made sense.
Open yourself up to uncomfortable and emotional conversations around sexuality, gender and sexual identity.
I often have heated discussions with people I know about how we should bring more awareness of gender and sexual identity and sexuality in schools. They often retaliate and say that if we begin educating individuals in school about these topics, more people will change their sexuality, gender, and sexual identity.
This argument honestly astounds me, and when I mentioned this to one of my friends, she gave me a great perspective on it – just because we discuss a topic in class doesn’t mean we will become that. Another important conversation that we should be open to having is a discussion around everyone’s pronouns. It is an important gesture that shows respect and dignity for others. Although these conversations can be uncomfortable, I am helping to spread awareness and encourage more thought and conversations about sexuality, gender and sexual identity. As we continue to have this conversation, it is important that the awareness that we develop not only helps build our knowledge, but that we share this with others.
Look within yourself and reflect and grow in your own journey.
Learning about the key differences between sexuality, gender and sexual identity has been an eye-opening experience. There was so much I used to not understand, but it has been amazing to learn. I feel that this understanding and knowledge has helped me be more respectful and has helped me grow as a person.
I have also become more in touch with my own sexuality – encouraging me to be more introspective and think within myself about the people I am attracted to and how I identify. This has helped me realise that although I am only part way through my journey, I am bisexual.