5 Reasons Celebrities Should Embrace the ‘B’ Word
Image by Gage Skidmore
LGBT visibility in Hollywood and the entertainment world is at an all-time high. Not only in fictional characters but also due to out and proud celebrities. Celebs like Caitlyn Jenner, Ellen Page, and Ricky Martin are announcing their gay, lesbian, and trans identities on magazine covers and in keynote speeches at LGBT galas. Being LGBT in Hollywood is becoming less and less of a taboo – unless you’re bisexual.
Unlike the gay and lesbian, and now trans, communities – bisexual people don’t have the same visibility. There are celebrities who exhibit bisexuality in their dating and love lives, yet many apparently have a hard time saying the ‘B’ word.
Recently, Kristen Stewart said she isn’t hiding her sexuality in an interview with Nylon. “Google me, I’m not hiding,” Stewart said. After dating long time boyfriend Robert Pattison, Stewart is now with a woman. Miley Cyrus and Raven-Symoné are two other celebs who have shown interest in more than one gender but who have chosen to remain label-less. While the draw of not wanting to be labeled is enticing, it perpetuates the invisibility of bisexuality and of bi people. Clearly, the ‘B’ in LGBT needs better PR.
Here are five reasons celebrities should use the B word:
1. An invisible majority
First and foremost, it creates visibility. Despite the fact that bi people are the majority of the LGBT community, bisexuality has continually gotten the short end of the stick. In TV and film, bisexuality is scarcely seen (especially bi male characters). Even when they are on screen, most bi characters fall into an evil villain trope or have over sexualized roles. In order to diversify perceptions of bisexuality, we need out and proud celebrities who are not afraid to announce they are on ‘Team B.’
2. Reading is fundamental – so is education
You’re not going to learn about a community if you don’t even believe it exists. The lack of bi visibility has perpetuated ignorance about bisexuality. In this information-less vacuum, mistaken stereotypes about bi people abound. According to popular culture, bisexuality is “just a phase,” bi people are all “promiscuous,” and anyone who identifies as bi is merely “confused.” The more people in the public eye come out as bisexual, the harder it is for the public to hold on to these false beliefs about bi people. Gaining that bisexual visibility leads individuals to educate themselves.
3. Socially, Bisexually, Aware
It’s hard to imagine that any gay or lesbian celebrities would be asked if they were “practicing homosexuals.” That’s because no interviewer would dream of using such archaic language in reference to someone’s sexuality. But that’s exactly what happened to bi celebs Alan Cumming and Anna Paquin when they sat down with TV legend Larry King. Bi-ignorant questions like that wouldn’t be asked if King was socially, bisexually, aware.
4. It helps bi people
According to dozens of studies which have come out in the last year, bi people face greater stigma than gay and lesbian people and are therefore more often victims of discrimination, resulting in greater inequality and more social ills affecting bi people. Few are aware of this problem and even less are actually doing something about it. When public figures use the ‘B’ word, they are using their powerful voices to spread awareness that bisexuality is real, common, and compatible with living a fulfilling life. That kind of visibility can shift public opinion, inspire people to be more accepting of bisexuality, and improve the lives of bi people everywhere.
5. Bisexual youth need role models
When the only LGBT role models available to today’s youth come from the gay, lesbian, and trans communities, it leaves bi youth feeling left out, only able to partially relate to those experiences. Out and proud bisexual celebrities help bi youth to know that they are not alone.
Given that bisexuality is even more common than homosexuality, there is a huge discrepancy between the percentage of the population that is bisexual and the tiny fraction of celebrities who identify as bi. This makes me wonder – who else out there is secretly bisexual? Let’s hope more of our favorite celebs come to understand the significance of using the ‘B’ word. Next time you hear someone skirt around the identity when asked about their romantic history with more than one gender, ask yourself “could this person be bi?”