Think being bisexual is a fun, carefree walk in the park? Bisexuals often feel rejected by both the straight and the LGBT community, and that feeling of not fitting in appears to be strongest with bisexual women.
Researchers at George Mason University and the University of South Carolina conducted a nationally representative study of 14,412 people, surveying them in 1994 when participants were in grades 7 to 12, then again in 2007-2008 when they were ages 24 to 32. They found that while bisexuals of both genders were at high risk for depression and alcohol abuse when they were young, the male bisexuals seemed to be less inclined to experience these problems as they got older. However, the female bisexuals continued to struggle and were also more likely to smoke and be victimized. There seems to be no clear reason for these findings, although researcher Lisa Lindley has her theories:
"Bisexuals are often invisible," she said of bisexual women. "There's a lot of prejudice against them. They're told, 'You're confused — pick one.' There tends to be this expectation or standard that a person picks one sexual identity and sticks with it. I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about bisexuals. I think their risk has a lot more to do with stigma." Study Says That Most Women Are Bisexual
Lindley also noted that bisexual men tend to have a "stronger connection" to their community, which may prevent alcoholism and depression, whereas women may feel they don't have a community in which to be at home.
But when it comes down to it, according to Lindley, the entire LGBT community is at higher risk than the straight community in regards to substance abuse and depression. However, she added, it's dangerous to examine the entire community as one entity: It's important to separate the groups.
"They're not all troubled," she says of the LGBT community. "They're not all high risk."