In the interviews we’ve conducted so far, lots of our participants have spoken to us about the myths and stereotypes that circulate about bisexual people. One of these myths has had quite a lot of scrutiny in the press recently following a highly publicised incident on Celebrity Big Brother in August.
Christopher Biggins declared bisexuals to be “the worst” and suggested that studies of the AIDS pandemic failed to identify bisexual people as the root cause of the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide. Bisexual people, and others, responded with horror at his comments.
HIV Plus Mag, with a certain air of exasperation we know many bisexual people share, wrote about the evidence against this stigmatising claim.
What these claims seem to boil down to is a mistrust of bisexual people amongst monosexual people (people who are only attracted to one gender). There’s an assumption that being attracted to more than one gender means bisexual people are seemingly assumed to have a proportionally larger sex drive compared to anyone else – heterosexual, lesbian, or gay. With this so-called insatiable sex drive, so the stereotype goes, comes recklessness and risk. As this recent piece in the Guardian points out, taking responsibility for sexual health is a job for everyone – regardless of sexuality.
We know from our interviews that assumptions and inaccurate stereotypes like this can have a very real impact on bisexual people and that they inform and play a part in their relationships. Bisexual people often spend a lot of time explaining to their partners, or potential partners, what bisexuality is all about. This can mean having conversations about how being bisexual doesn’t mean they necessarily have many more partners than anyone else, and that they are no more or less likely to have STDs than any other new partner. In sum, it’s people’s sexual behaviours, and not their sexuality, that are important in sexual health.
We’re interested in thinking about how to tackle such negative, and unfounded stereotypes. Circulating information about bisexual people’s lives and relationships which accurately reflects most people’s experiences is one way we, and our participants, think this might happen. We also think it’s important to celebrate the positive experiences of relationships which many bisexual people have, as a way to try and change the negative ideas that pop up within wider society.
If you have any thoughts on this or other responses, why not leave a comment below, or send us a message through our ‘contact us’ page!