Bisexuality in 2016: a Recap
Bi Visibility in 2016 started out on an energetic note when popular teen actor Amandla Stenberg came out as bi. The Teen Vogue snapchat is still being shared as a source of encouragement and support for the bi community a full year on. Later Amandla also came out as nonbinary in a public exchange about pronouns.
Many of the organizations that provide the only queer support in communities have names that erase community members beyond the L & G. Inclusive language continues to become more mainstream as local groups publicly move from gay rights to LGBTQIA rights. This year the The Chicago Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s became the more comprehensive LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois. Some students have begun more clearly welcoming all queer youth with a localized update from Gay-Straight Alliance to Gender and Sexuality Alliance. The highly trafficked Huffington Post’s Gay Voices announced in February they were becoming Queer Voices in a targeted effort to create a more inclusive space.
September holds a special space of Bi Visibility, housing Bi Week, Bi Visibility Day, and a month of programming. Bi’s blew up social media during Bi Week 2016. A GLAAD panel featured bi folks talking representation in media. The month long celebration of bisexuality closed out with a Bisexual Community Briefing at one of the most powerful locations in the US: The White House.
D.C. was not the only place Bi Visibility was featured in US politics. North Carolina State Representative Cecil Brockman publicly came out as bisexual to provide assurance to the local queer community. Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown, the first openly bisexual governor to take office, became the first openly LGBT governor to be elected, and also spoke out about being a survivor of domestic violence.
And this year, as always, the bi community advanced passionate activism across the nation. The #StillBisexual campaign continues to provide a unified platform to share our stories, and also launched an ally component. HIV activist, author, and editor Khafre Abif was named #15 of the 75 Most Amazing HIV+ People of 2016 by Plus Magazine.
“Scholar, educator, cultural worker and public intellectual of multi-religiosity” Shaykh Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé passed away in February. In his honor, the Journal of Bisexuality has a call out for proposals of works “that clarify the importance of the life and work of Ibrahim Baba.”
Amandla Stenberg’s January out-coming remains influential, and many other celebrities were to follow. Andy Mientus came out on Instagram, Bella Thorne came out with a kiss, and Aubrey Plaza came out in an interview. Nico Tortorella took a public journey familiar to many of us, originally eschewing then embracing the bi label. Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui named her bisexuality in a powerful open letter in response to the election. Many members of the bi community got visible on social media: Stephanie Beatriz, Mara Wilson, and Youtuber Eva Gutowski all came out on twitter. Sara Ramirez also came out on twitter, but not before speaking about her intersecting identities at the True Colors: 40 to None Summit. And live from Comic Con, Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar shared that her queer friendly programming choices stemmed directly from her lived experience as a bi woman.
Wonder Woman was confirmed as queer and non-monosexual, so hopefully the team behind the current run will use the term bisexual in the future. We are one step closer to a Captain America and Bucky Barnes love story with a current Marvel writer’s intonation that Bucky’s feelings for Cap are more than friendship alone. And Deadpool landed on the big screen in February, in a critical and financial success that will have the bi+ superhero returning to theatres in 2018, possibly with a boyfriend.
Bill Posley released his new web series, By the Bi, exploring his personal experience as a bi man. Bi comedian Gaby Dunn’s Just Between Us brought us new bi-inclusive content. The Feels launched its daily shorts on bi guy Charlie and all his feelings. Shortly after coming out of the closet, bi actor Stephanie Beatriz came out with a weekly queer-friendly, feminist podcast Reality Bytes.
Other public figures continued to be outspoken. Zelda Williams shared why she is vocal about being bisexual, and spoke to bisexuality on public platforms including Netflix’s Chelsea. Musician Halsey, the subject of a biphobic Buzzfeed article, spoke up and out about the discriminatory piece. Just months prior she rebuked biphobic accusations about her sexuality. When news broke that Amber Heard was divorcing her famous actor husband, biphobic headlines blamed everything but his abuse. Heard used her position in the public eye to provide support directly to women impacted by domestic violence with a PSA followed by an open letter. Evan Rachel Wood condemned the media’s use of Heard’s bisexuality as a target. Earlier in the year, the outspoken bi activist released a Pride Month video that made waves and went far to combat misconceptions and raise the visibility of bisexuality.
After a long and worthwhile wait, Frank Ocean released “LGBT Masterpiece” Blonde. Bi artist and LGBT activist Lady Gaga’s Joanne finally reached shelves and airwaves in October. My Brother’s A Keeper, a play written and directed by co-editor of Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men, playwright/poet, sexologist, and social entrepreneur Dr. Herukhuti premiered at The Bronx Academy for Arts and Dance in November. The play also stars David J. Cork, creator of Bi: The Webseries.
New research revealed and confirmed realities and challenges of bi life. The Movement Advancement Project released Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them, seeking to make visible the specifics of the disparities bi people face. Research in 2016 tied biphobia to a significant wage gap for out bi people compared to straight and gay coworkers. Hidden healthcare costs for bisexuals were explored, and further research showed bisexual women in face higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidal ideation when compared to lesbians and straight women. Additional research showed that rates of sexual assault are higher for bi college students. Women in Relationships with Bisexual Men: Bi Men By Women explored the lives of bi men through the eyes of the women they partnered with.
Visible bisexuality grew in leaps and bounds this year, and remains vital to the well being of bi people. Though not all news was good, every bit helped to further the message that bi people have life experiences and needs disparate from the general LGBT community. There was so much to celebrate in 2016, and hopefully the new year will bring even more.