The San Francisco Human Rights Commission is reviewing a groundbreaking report “Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations,” believed to be the first of its kind by a government body in the U.S. Here is the PDF. Some of the findings reveal a lot about a community that is rarely central to the discussion of LGBT rights. The author and editor of the report is LGBT Advisory Committee member Lindasusan Ulrich. From the report:

According to several studies, self-identified bisexuals make up the largest single population within the LGBT community in the United States. In each study, more women identified as bisexual than lesbian, and fewer men identified as bisexual than gay men.

Bisexuals experience high rates of being ignored, discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities. Often, the entire sexual orientation is branded as invalid, immoral, or irrelevant. Despite years of activism and the largest population within the LGBT community, the needs of bisexuals still go unaddressed and their very existence is still called into question. This erasure has serious consequences on bisexuals’ health, economic well-being, and funding for bi organizations and programs.

  • Bisexuals constitute the largest population within the LGBT community, but few services exist to address their specific needs.
  • One in two bi women and one in three bi men have attempted or seriously considered suicide. This is significantly higher than the rates for heterosexuals, lesbians, and gay men.
  • Bisexuals experience higher rates of hypertension, depression, poor or fair physical health, smoking, risky drinking, and other mood or anxiety disorders.
  • Bisexual men were 50% more likely to live in poverty than gay men, and bisexual women were more than twice as likely to live in poverty as lesbians.
  • In 2008 and 2009, not a single grant in the entire country explicitly focused on bisexual issues.

…While bisexuality has often been considered merely a “phase” en route to a stable gay or lesbian orientation, it is also a stable sexual orientation in itself. A longitudinal study of sexual minority women (lesbian, bisexual, or unlabeled) found that over 10 years, “more women adopted bisexual/unlabeled identities than relinquished them” [emphasis in original]. Of those who began the study identifying as bisexual, 92% identified as bisexual or unlabeled 10 years later, and 61% those who began as unlabeled identified as bisexual or unlabeled 10 years later. While no similar long-term study has been done with bisexual men, at least one study suggests that bisexuality can be a stable sexual orientation for men as well.

There is a lot of information to digest – and to discuss. Have a look at it.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding