Bisexual Awareness Week – or BiWeek, for short – is celebrated internationally every year from September 16th to September 23rd. It’s a week devoted to recognising bisexual identity, honouring bisexual achievements, and bringing light to bisexual issues.
What some people may not know is that BiWeek was originally a single day. And it was started by three bisexual Americans who wanted to have a party.
How BiWeek Began
In 1999, American bisexual activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur attended the International Lesbian and Gay Association Conference in Johannesburg. As they had been for years, the activists were there to fight for recognition and inclusion of bisexual individuals in the GSRD community and beyond. But they were tired. Tired of asking for a seat at the table. Tired of trying to prove their existence to a world that didn’t want to hear about it.
Sat around at the conference, they vented to each other about wanting a day – just a day – where they could be surrounded, in celebration, by other bisexuals and not have to fight for themselves. Gigi said they should have a party.
And thus, Celebrate Bisexuality Day (also known as CBD) was born. The three decided on the date in September, to commemorate the great bisexual, Freddie Mercury. The exact day of celebration would be on Gigi’s birthday, September 23rd.
From that year forward, Celebrate Bisexuality Day has been observed internationally to celebrate the bisexual community and decrease biphobia.
In 2014, bisexual celebrations were extended to one week prior to CBD. We have continued in that fashion ever since.
Why BiWeek is Important
Did you know that bisexuals constitute a “silent majority” in the GSRD community? They are the majority because studies find that most people in the GSRD community full under the umbrella term of bisexuality – that is, they are attracted to two or more genders. And they are silent because, despite their numbers, they have long been the targets of binegativity.
Binegativity is a specific form of prejudice associated with individuals who identify as bisexual. It often manifests as beliefs that bisexuals are sexually promiscuous, or “confused” about their sexual orientation. The struggle of bisexual individuals is also twofold, as they face binegativity both from non-GSRD and GSRD communities alike.
Binegativity from the GSRD community might sound strange at first, but its origins stretch back to the beginning of the GSRD rights movement. Whilst GSRD individuals struggled for recognition of their identities from a heteronormative society, many in the movement felt that bisexuals were being evasive, not wanting to take sides in the fight. Knowing this, it becomes easier to see where the stereotype of bisexuals being “confused” comes from.
The effects of binegativity are not minor. Bisexual men often struggle with coming out due to the social constraints that masculinity places on their romantic/sexual relationships. Bisexuals also experience higher rates of sexual violence and adverse health outcomes than monosexual (i.e., attraction to only one gender) individuals, as well as increased discrimination in the workplace. Statistics like these make BiWeek a crucial part of the fight against binegativity and invisibility.
But remember that BiWeek is also a time to celebrate. Celebrate your own bisexual identity, or that of others. Celebrate the achievements and joys and love of the bisexual community.
But most of all, this BiWeek, we hope that you follow in the footsteps of Wendy, Michael, and Gigi, and have an absolute ball.
Written by: Serena Celeste Romanelli