Every year, bi folks celebrate Bi Visibility Day on February 23rd by sharing #bifacts and #bisexualfacts online. Here are some of facts, “facts”, and cute pink-lavender-blue imagery that I’ve enjoyed this year.

Check out the full day-long tweetstorm too.

It’s okay to be bi.

The most important #bifact is that it’s okay to be bi.

From Positive Bubbles
  • It’s okay to be bi if you haven’t kissed a guy.
  • It’s okay to be bi if you haven’t slept with a girl.
  • It’s okay to be bi if you aren’t into sex.
  • It’s okay to be bi if you aren’t sure who or what you’re into.
  • It’s okay to be bi if you’re more into people of some genders than others.
  • It’s okay to be bi if the you’re more into people of some genders sometimes and other genders at other times.
  • It’s okay to be bi if you’re attracted to people of different genders in different ways. It’s okay to be bi if your sexuality is fluid and it changes or might change.
  • It’s okay to be bi when you’re in a relationship, no matter the gender(s) of the person or people you’re with.
  • It’s okay to be bi when you’re single — it’s fine to be all bi yourself.

It’s okay to be bi. You’re the only one who gets to say whether you’re bi. Nobody else can tell you how to identify.

The generally accepted contemporary definition of bi is that you’re into more than one gender. That could be a sexual attraction (“bisexual”), romantic attraction (“biromantic”) or any of the various other ways that you can be into people.

The term bisexual stretches back to the 18th century but its first recorded use referring to a sexuality and orientation was in the late 19th century and it didn’t enter common use in this sense until the 1950s. Before that, it referred to multiple or ambiguous sets of genitalia — more like a synonym for the modern word intersex. Because of this extensive history, the bi in bisexual has been tied up in the notion of a mandatory bender binary. You can find plenty of historical definitions which use phrases like “both sexes” or “both genders”.

Of course, the idea of their being only two genders or even only two sexes is a pretty antiquated view. Because of its age, the term bisexual is sometimes saddled with this baggage. This interpretation doesn’t really fit with modern usage. That’s like saying that the existence of bilingual people implies that there are only two languages. But the association still makes some people uncomfortable to identify as bisexual.

Fortunately, there are other related labels with less of this historical baggage. The term ambisexual is only a short way removed, and easy to use in a pinch. It also encodes notions of sexual fluidity and variance which some people appreciate. Pansexual is another close identity, typically distinguished as implying attraction regardless of gender, while bisexual people may find that their feelings towards people of differing genders aren’t exactly the same, or that they’re attracted only to some genders, not to all. Polysexual is broader term, implicitly including a potential number of genders greater than two and some consider this an umbrella term for bisexual, ambisexual, pansexual, &c. You can read more about the relationships between these terms in Bisexual and pansexual and polysexual, oh my! by Sasha Pergio.

Of course these identities aren’t restricted to allosexual orientations. You might find yourself identifying as polysensusal, panromantic, and bisexual. Fundamentally, what’s important is that whatever terms you use make you feel comfortable and are useful ways for you to describe your feelings to yourself and others. And there’s no need for you to pick labels if that doesn’t feel right to you.

#bifacts

Of course everyone’s favorite bi facts are bi puns and jokes mocking harmful stereotypes about bisexuality. Boy do Twitter and Tumblr deliver.

This is just a smattering. For the full effect, check out the #bifacts and #bisexualfacts hashtags on Twitter and the same tags on Tumblr.

Awesome superheros are bi

You might not know this, but the two most good-hearted, pure, perfect superheros are bi/pan. Of course, I’m talking about Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Wonder Woman.

Of course, it’s always an individual choice which label to use. Since Steve and Diana are fictional characters with a whole cast of writers and stories, there’s bound to be variations in their character between various re-tellings of their stories. Marvel is currently publishing some ridiculous garbage fanfiction in which Steve Rogers has always secretly been a literal Nazi. Obviously that’s nonsense. As readers, we have to pull together the threads of our favorite stories which make characters who they are.

Diana informs Steve Trevor that when it comes to the pleasures of the flesh: “men are required for reproduction but for pleasure… unnecessary.”, a position about which she remains somewhat ambivalent.

If that’s your jam, you can get a cute af bi Captain America shield to wear on your body, or swag featuring both Steve and Diana.

Bi people in relationships

When bi folks are in romantic relationships, they’re often mistakenly categorized with monosexual orientations. A bi person in a relationship with someone of another gender doesn’t become straight any more than you become a vegan when you eat an avocado.

The same is true of relationships as a whole. When two women are in a relationship, that doesn’t make it a lesbian relationship. In fact, women are more likely to identify as bisexual than lesbian, so it’s a substantial gamble to assume that any two women in a relationship are lesbians. Likewise, two men in a relationship aren’t necessarily gay, and just because a relationship comprises two people of different genders doesn’t make it a “straight relationship”.

This sort of language contributes to the effects of bi invisibility and erasure. It’s understandably difficult, however, because modern English doesn’t have commonly-used casual language to describe these sorts of relationships inclusively. And trying to describe relationships precisely using precise technical language can come off as clinical, with the terms used as real odds to the warmth and emotion they’re trying to describe.

A similar problem arises when bi people are in long-term exclusive relationships or get married. There’s a derisory stigma that bisexuality is a phase or a liminal state been “real” monosexual orientations like gay or straight. This leads to the prejudice that bi people eventually have to “pick a side” — a prejudice reinforced when someone who’s bi finds someone they want to spend the rest of their life with. Of course, a bi person who ends up in a long-term relationship with someone of the same gender hasn’t become straight any more than a straight person who gets married has become demisexual.

In a peculiar twist, bisexuals are often stereotyped as promiscuous or particularly prone to infidelity. Which sounds especially silly when placed next to the “pick a side” characterization of bi people in lifelong relationships. To turn the tables on monosexuals: could you please make up your minds? Are bisexuals sluts or ultimately destined pick a side? Just please get your stereotypes straight — because bi people aren’t.

Finally, just a nod to statistics. Most bi people who end up in long-term relationships do so with someone of another gender. Is that because bi folks are mostly just straight? Well, most of the population identifies as straight — typically much more than 80% in any particular survey. Though it’s harder to estimate, doesn’t seem that more than a couple of percent of the population aren’t cis men or women. So as a bi person, the odds are that more than ⅘ of the people attracted to you are straight cis people of another gender.

If you were equally likely to end up with any of them (and there’s no particular reason to assume that’s true), you’d expect that your eventual partner would be cis, straight, and of a different gender. There are also social clustering effects that lead to queer communities. So a bi person is likely to have a peer group that’s a bit queerer than the general population. But the end result is still disproportionately that bi folks who end up in long term relationships find partners of another gender — just because of population effects.

Real world

A 2010 study found that US adults are slightly more likely to identify as bi than either gay or lesbian. Adolescents were more than five times as likely to identify as bisexual than gay or lesbian.

Despite being a more common sexuality, bi folks still face a lot of stigma: both from straight and queer communities. This stigma combined with invisibility & erasure leads to a substantial health crisis for bi people. A 2012 publication from Stonewall has some pretty sobering stats about bi people in the UK.

  • 29% of bisexual women have deliberately harmed themselves in the past year compared to 0.4% of the general population.
  • 11% of bisexual men harmed themselves in the previous year compared to just 1 in 33 men in general who had ever harmed themselves
  • 5% of bisexual men attempted to take their own life over the last year while just 0.4% of men in general attempted to take their own life in the same period
  • Two thirds of women and three fifths of men are not out to their GP compared to 30% of gay men.

This is just a smattering of the list. Other publications have plenty more depressing facts about bi people (including the fact that depression and other mental illness are more common in bi people than gay, lesbian, or straight folks).

Further reading

If all this has you feeling down, don’t worry: there’s a deep, deep rabbit-hole of unsettling reading ahead of you. Need a breather to settle yourself for a moment? Here’s a Tumblr where I collect soothing bi-flag-colored art.

Feeling settled and ready to continue? Here are a few places to get you started.

Need some more upbeat bi resources? Got you covered there too.

Just want some sweet bi imagery or swag?

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Mostly abridged.

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