Tomorrow is Bi Visibility Day, and college communities across the world will celebrate the inclusion of of bisexual people and other middle sexualities.
What is Bi Day?
Bi Visibility, otherwise known as Bi Day, the event allows the bisexual and middle sexualities community — which includes those who are pansexual or polysexual — to share their experiences and address issues specific to those populations.
Bi Day was founded by activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur in 1999 as a response to the erasure of bisexuality by the larger LGBT community. It was first celebrated in concurrence with the annual meeting of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, a group that campaigns for equal rights for LGBT people. In addition to the United States, Bi Day is also observed in Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
In 2013, on the occasion of Bi Day’s 14th anniversary, the White House held a closed-door meeting with bisexual advocates in recognition of the group’s presence and specific needs.
“Bi Day is important to me and my community because it gives us a voice,” said Taylor Miles of Kalamazoo College. “Bisexuals, and pansexuals like myself, are so often forgotten about and erased from the queer community.”
Why celebrate Bi Day?
The celebration of Bi Day is especially important because of the unique challenges community members face. Those who identify within middle sexualities are often ostracized by members of straight as well as non-straight communities.
The celebration of Bi Day allows for the acknowledgment of bisexuality as well as other marginalized middle sexualities. While the initial celebration was strictly devoted to celebrating bisexuality, now Bi Day acknowledges all who identify within the middle sexualities, defined as anyone who has the potential to be attracted to more than one gender. (Bisexuality, pansexuality, and polysexuality are considered middle sexualities.)
Often, those who are not attracted to multiple genders — a group sometimes identified as monosexual — assert that those who are should just “choose a side,” or that their sexuality is simply a phase that will eventually end with a person identifying as exclusively straight, gay, or lesbian.
“Bi day is important to me because often times people look at bisexuality as if it's not a true identity,” said C’era “Cee” Banks, a queer woman of color attending North Carolina Central University. “The bisexual community is important and deserves to be acknowledged.”
In addition to experiencing isolation or ostracization, the middle sexualities communities also face specific health issues. Bisexual people are more likely to experience higher levels of minority stress (i.e., high levels of stress experienced by stigmatized minority groups) than their gay or lesbian peers. Health risks for bisexual people include is often linked to higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse, self harm, and depression. Certain members of the community are also at an increased risk of heart disease.
Bisexual communities, furthermore, face a higher risk of sexual assault as compared to the larger gay and lesbian community. The CDC has found that nearly 50 percent of bisexual people experience sexual assault during their lives, compared to 13 percent of lesbian women and 40 percent of gay men. These staggering numbers are even higher if a bisexual person is also transgender.
“If we aren't highlighting the needs of all the identities in our community, then we are doing something really wrong,” said Carol Taylor-Shim, a social justice educator at the University of Kentucky.
How do campuses celebrate Bi Day?
College campuses celebrate Bi Day to increase awareness and to create more inclusive campus communities for bi people. Whether an individual identifies as bisexual or not, everyone can learn and take action at Bi Day observances on campus.
Institutions like Citrus College and West Chester University host a visibility day for the middle sexualities and distribute information to advance awareness of bi and middle sexualities issues. In addition to promoting widespread awareness, Bi Day also allows members of the community to see themselves recognized on campus, by their peers and instructors alike.
Bi Day provides an additional opportunity to embrace diverse sexual identities by celebrating particular public figures. Haven, for example, the University of Delaware’s LGBTQ student organization, celebrates the life of bisexual artist Frida Kahlo. And given that September is also Hispanic Heritage Month, campuses can use Bi Day to highlight the unique intersection of heritage, culture, and sexuality.
The Auria Campus, which houses the Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and University of Colorado Denver, is celebrating Bi Day by inviting Eliel Cruz, who speaks and writes on issues of bisexuality, religion, and culture.
For those interested in celebrating Bi Day, the Campus Pride Speakers Bureau offers a database of members representing the diversity of the LGBTQ community — including Robyn Ochs and Lauren LoGuidice — who will come to campus and address topics such as community-building, social justice, bullying and campus safety, health and wellness, and more.
How can I learn more?
The Campus Pride Resource Guide for Bisexual and Non-Monosexual Identities offers information about bisexuality and middle sexualities concerns — and, of course, Bi Day. The guide includes a reference section for middle sexuality vocabulary, bisexual culture, and ways to support the middle sexualities community.
Campus Pride is also holding a National G+ Hangout on Wednesday, September 23, at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Panelists will discuss the landscape for bisexual and other middle sexualities people, providing perspectives from students, activists, professionals, and educators. The broadcast will feature Aud Traher, Vice President of BiNet USA, and will be moderated by Campus Pride’s Rebby Kern.
A recording of the event will be available on the Campus Pride YouTube immediately following the event.
Campus Pride freelance writer Allison Marie Turner, an alum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, contributed to this article. Follow her on Twitter @amturner1993.