Bisexuality will be the official theme for Israel’s Pride events in 2017, and it’s exciting. Studies show that people who feel attraction for more than one gender represent about 30% of the population, but the visibility of this large community is minimal. Its members are suffering from a lack of accessibility to friendly health services; they experience sexualization of their identification, and are excluded from the ‘relationship material’ population. Therefore, it’s good that the subject will be on the table at the Pride events in this coming year. Miki Zaidel, a prominent voice in the bi-pan-poly community, writes.
I was thrilled to hear about the decision of the directory of the LGBT organizations in Israel, led by the Aguda, that the issue that will accompany the various Pride events in 2017 will be bisexual visibility. The decision was made after a debate concerning another major and important theme in the community: the legacy of the gay community and its veterans. In the end, the online voting, in which the bisexual topic won about a third of the voting, determined the winning theme.
For me, as a Pansexual man (and bisexual- I feel comfortable with both identifications), it was very important to work towards this decision. According to studies, bisexual-pansexual-polysexual people are about 30 percent of the population (the general population, not the LGBT population). According to studies conducted in North America, the rate has risen even up to 50 percent in recent years, in terms of sexual practice. Contrary to these high numbers, the visibility of the identity and our community is minimal, and certainly not close to being compatible with the proportion of the population and the community.
The multi-attraction community (people who feel attraction to more than one gender: bi-pan-poly) is erased and being hidden regularly from daily discourse. For example, the phrase “the homo-lesbian community”, and other often referrals to the community are manifestations of biphobia that the community experiences both from the inside and outside of the LGBT community itself.
Among the major difficulties bisexual individuals face are the difficult access to friendly medical services: for example, the avoidance of bisexual women from contacting gynecologists – or lack of recognition of the characteristics of the sex life of bisexual people and the impact of exposure to the HIV virus or other sexual transmitted diseases.
Also, bisexual people frequently experience deep problems facing the mental health establishment, where even gay friendly therapists sometimes identify and mark bisexual as sexual confusion or a transitional phase. A member of our community was diagnosed as schizophrenic only due to the fact that he told the therapist that he felt as if he was neither gender and experienced sexual attraction regardless of gender. In terms of the physician, these were things he did not know, and if he doesn’t know it-it doesn’t exist, and if it doesn’t exist- the patient is necessarily delusional.
Bisexual men, and even more, bisexual women, experience sexualization of identity, perceived as movable sexual objects and incessant targets for sexual suggestions for threesomes and multi-gender sex – and while there is nothing wrong with threesomes, what’s wrong is the fetishism and the sexual harassment of the community, leading to bisexual women being exposed to more sexual violence than heterosexual and lesbian women (but less than transgender women).
Bi-pan-poly people experience exclusion in the relationship field. A recent study in the US found that more than 50% out of a thousand heterosexual women said they would not go out with a bisexual man. And the list goes on – employment, culture (if you already have a bisexual character in film or TV, he or she is always manipulative and / or a cheater, and are never specifically identify as bisexual). Of course the repression only increases when it crosses with other identities – like a Russian-born bisexual woman, a Pansexual transgender man, bisexual Arab woman, etc.
This situation is what we’ve come to change. A long way ahead of us, but the bi-pan-poly forum was established primarily to serve as a voice for community members who are used to being silenced and absent from the discourse. We led the process of determining the subject of bisexuality to begin to break the cycle in which bisexual people experience great difficulty and are not being heard. We will work for bisexual visibility. We are partners and allies of the LGBT community, in Tel Aviv and in the rest of the country, in conferences, in academia, in cultural events, festivals, parties – and in gay pride parades.
It is important for me to note that even though bisexual visibility was chosen as this year’s theme, there are no winners and losers here, there’s no good topic chosen versus a less important topic. Veterans and heritage in the LGBT community, not elected this year, is a hugely important issue and I will do my best to insure that this subject will be leading the Pride events in Israel next year.