A new halcyon era for bisexuality?
It seems that every decade or so, a landmark article comes out that reflects the current Zeitgeist about bisexuality. In July 1995, Newsweek’s cover declared: “Bisexuality. Not Gay. Not Straight. A New Sexual Identity Emerges.” And while Bisexuality was not actually a new identity, the positive spin of the piece coincided with the tone of the era. The 90s were a golden age of bisexual activism when bi social groups were growing and “Gay and Lesbian” organizations around the world were steadily adding the “B” and “T” to their names and mission statements.
That effort had stalled somewhat by the mid 2000s. Meanwhile, once-thriving groups like BiNet USA saw its network of local bi organizations fall apart. It felt like a punch to the gut when in 2005, the New York Times reported on a study out of Northwestern university using the catchy title “Straight, Gay, or Lying.” That title became a soundbite that quickly became a new mantra for biphobes and frustrated bis around the world by reinforcing one of the most unfair and hated stereotypes about our community. For a time, it felt like the bi movement itself had stalled.
And then came a new era of improved communication and new possibilities, thanks to the maturation of the internet and social media. Using the new tools of the information age, bi groups began to grow again. A new generation, one which had grown up with the internet, came to adulthood. These “millennials” didn’t know a world without queer characters on TV. They had always had easy access to information about sexuality (not to mention pornography), and many let their sexual identities be known at a young age unimaginable only a decade before. Unlike older generations, gay and lesbian millennials didn’t harbor or have patience for blatant biphobia. They were much more able to see their own experiences reflected in their bi counterparts, rather than treat bisexuals with the very same hostility they themselves resented from the less open-minded in the straight world. In this context, The New York Times Magazine published a cover story on its March 23, 2014 that reflects the much-improved state of bisexuality in our day. Although not an overt a mea culpa from The Times, the cover story is as close to that as the bi community could reasonably expect. Of course there is a great deal of work left to be done to get the bi community the respect, support, and rights everyone deserves. Fortunately, we live in promising times.
The article gives a glimpse into the work of the American Institute of Bisexuality (the organization behind this site) and will familiarize you with some of the latest research on bisexuality – without shying away from many of the controversies that go into studying something as multi-faceted as sexuality in the first place. We invite you to read it.
New York Times Magazine, The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists
Photo: Hannah Whitaker for The New York Times