Bi Erasure: The BRUTAL, Invalidating Thing That Happens To So Many Bisexuals

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what is bi-erasure
Love, Self

We're here. We're queer. Why doesn't anyone believe us?!

I remember dating a guy who didn’t believe I was pansexual. It didn’t last very long. Alas, after I slept with him and complimented his skill in bed, he turned to me, smug as can be, and said, “See, you don’t need that Tumblr bullsh*t, you’re straight. All of this was just a phase.”

With that, I got up out of bed without a word, put on my clothes, grabbed my stuff, and drove home. The last thing I saw was him yammering and stammering trying to backtrack what he just said. At that point, I didn’t give a sh*t. I was too mad to even say any words to him anymore; I didn’t want to bother even looking at a guy who could so smugly invalidate my own feelings.

This douche legitimately thought he knew me better than I knew myself and he was smug about it. I just wanted to break his ego in two.

As I pushed past him at the door, he began to realize that I was probably never going to speak to him again. He started to ask me to stay. He offered me breakfast. I still went out the door. He blew up my phone asking why I didn’t speak to him. Sadly, this isn’t the first time that I’ve had this happen, nor do I believe it’ll be the last.

You see, among people who enjoy the sexual company of more than one gender, there’s a big problem that they often face from potential partners, partners, in-laws, and others. This problem, of course, is called bi-erasure, and it’s scarily common.

What is bi-erasure? Bi-erasure is the tendency of people not believing that a person is bisexual, pansexual, or otherwise multi-gendered in terms of attraction. This is the kind of thing that happens when people say things like, “See, she was straight after all!” if a woman ends up in a long-term relationship with a man. This is also the kind of thing that makes people think that bisexuality is “just a phase.”

The thing about your sexual orientation is that it’s never “just a phase.” Just like straight men want women, and just like gay men want men, bisexuals and pansexuals want what they want. Too often, we just assume that people will either have to fall to one end of the spectrum or the other, not realizing that attraction has multiple dimensions for everyone involved.

Almost every bi-sexual has felt bi-erasure at least once, and pansexual people are in the same boat. What hurts the most is that bi-erasure often happens from people in the LGBTQ community as well. It’s literally an attack from all sides, with so many people really thinking that they know you better than you know you.

Bi-erasure takes many faces outside of the “just a phase” or “just Tumblr talk” crap that we so often hear. Speaking as someone who is pansexual, I’ve heard the following from people who tried to date me:

  • “Oh, I don’t want to date bisexuals. They always dump girls when they find dick.”
  • “You’re not pan, you’re confused and want attention.”
  • “Oh, are you one of those ‘bi’ girls who kiss other women to get attention?”
  • “I’d never date a bisexual. They’ll f*ck anything that moves, and I won’t even be able to figure out who they’re cheating with.”
  • “You’ll grow out of it.”
  • If you’re pansexual, why are the majority of the people you date guys?”
  • “Yeah, sure, just wait until you want a baby.”
  • “Oh... you’re one of those.”

Can you see how hurtful this is? Can you see why a lot of people who identify as queer, bi, pan, or ambisexual may want to just stay in the closet? It’s terrible, and yet, it’s something that is so normal that not many people ever speak up about it because they’re worried they’ll sound like drama queens.

From what I’ve seen, a lot of bisexuals feel alienated in both straight and gay communities because they are often labeled as “not queer enough” or “too slutty.” It’s 2017, and it’s still a huge problem in both straight and gay circles. This frightens and worries me.

How can we honestly expect things to go well for civil rights if people don’t even believe bisexuals, pansexuals, and nonbinary sexualities exist in that capacity? The fact is that is that it can’t, and maybe if we had a more open dialogue, we’d realize that this unspoken prejudice needs to be addressed.