By Nila V.
We’re all pretty lucky to live in a part of the country that’s so accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Following the recent Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges, allowing marriage equality in all 50 states, pride has spread through the country, and recognition of the queer members of our society has never been stronger. However, I’ve noticed that even within the San Francisco Bay Area, which some of my out-of-state friends have referred to as “Gay-town USA”, people still struggle with some of the letters in the ‘gay alphabet’.
Bisexual, pansexual, and asexual: the big three of unrecognized sexualities. I first became aware of this issue when I watched a video in my school’s GSD club (gender/sexuality/diversity club) entitled “What Lesbians Think of Bisexuals”. I was shocked to learn that hateful stereotypes of different sexualities were present even among members of the LGBTQ+ community. The terms ‘bi’, ‘pan’, and ‘ace’ brings with them the same stigmas the gay community has fought so hard to overcome, and more. Many people seem to think that individuals who identify with these sexualities are confused or are seeking attention. In regards to bisexuals and pansexuals, people sometimes see these as ‘stepping-stool sexualities’- used by those who aren’t ready to come out as fully gay or lesbian.
After watching this video, I talked to two of my friends, one who is bisexual and another who is pansexual. It was heartbreaking to hear that they had personally experienced discrimination and judgment, similar to that portrayed in the video. They had been called greedy, sluts, or just ignored. One of my friends mentioned that when she came out to her parents, her mother didn’t even believe her and thought she was going through a phase or following a new fad.
What’s particularly hurtful to bi/pan/ace people is that these stigmas are not only present in the heterosexual community, but also among members of the gay community. In this time of progress, when people are fighting for their rights, it’s important that they have a group that they can identify with. But what do you do if some members of the group you relate to are part of the problem?
I think part of the ignorance towards bisexuals, pansexuals, and asexuals stems from confusion on what these sexualities actually are. In their simplest forms, bisexuality is experiencing sexual and/or romantic attraction to people both of your own sex and others, pansexuality is experiencing sexual and/or romantic attraction to people regardless of sex, and asexuality is not experiencing sexual attraction at all. Breaking down some of the most common misconceptions, bisexuals are not confused or cheaters, pansexuals are not necessarily the same as bisexuals, and yes, asexuals exist.
In a time when people are finally coming out of the shadows about their sexualities and fighting for their rights, full acceptance of sexual diversity is key to progressing as a nation. Because in the end, it’s not a label or a stereotype that defines you, it’s who you are as a person and how you treat others that portrays who you really are.