Chris Bedell, our blog writer, just wrote a wonderful post about the prevalence of biphobia and homophobia in the United States and beyond.
There’s a confession I have to make.
I’ve been meaning to write something related to homophobia and biphobia ever since the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida (which was about three and a half months ago). But somehow, the words escaped me. No matter how many times the latest report about a shooting blasts from the news, the violence still always seems unimaginable - especially an attack against the LGBTQ community. After all, gay marriage is now the law of the land in America. However, just because the Supreme Court makes a ruling, doesn’t mean that a problem is fixed. One only needs to look at civil rights for African Americans and women. Racism still exists in the United States, and women are still fighting for gender equality since they still sometimes make only 70 something cents for every dollar men make.
Whether people realize it or not, coming out is still a big deal - regardless of if it’s as gay or bisexual. Many guys on dating/hookup apps such as Grindr, OkCupid, Jack’d, Hornet, etc. are still not out and often label their profiles as discreet or closeted. And it isn’t just older men who might be sexually confused and cheating on their wives who are closeted.
It’s a lot of college students and 20 somethings.
The conclusion might be obvious, but people wouldn’t be closeted if they felt comfortable coming out. What can be difficult to understand is that coming out has nothing to do with pushing an agenda. People shouldn’t have to feel like they need to live a lie for their entire life. The reality is, America is still an aggressively heterosexual society. Besides, it isn’t a big deal for straight people to be in relationships. For instance, a reporter could ask a straight celebrity if he or she is in a relationship.
And, yes. There’s nothing wrong with the majority of America being straight. But what’s harmful, is the 1950’s American attitude towards diversity. The pressure to conform still exists since the notion of if something is different it must be “bad” and “strange” is still engrained into society.
Furthermore, coming out as bisexual can be just as difficult as it is for gay people despite how it might seem like bisexuals could pretend to be straight. Hurtful stereotypes exist surrounding bisexuals such as they are more likely to be promiscuous, get STD’s, cheat, be indecisive, etc.
As upsetting as the Orlando shooting might have been, people shouldn’t feel entirely deflated. Pop culture isn’t perfect, but it still provokes discussion. For example, the NBC soap opera Days of our Lives has two gay men (one Caucasian and one Japanese-American) in the main cast, the Freeform TV show The Fosters has a lesbian couple and a questioning/bisexual/possibly gay guy, and the ABC TV show Revenge had a bisexual male main character that had relationships with both men and women. So while Jude should get more time on screen on The Fosters and the sexuality story shouldn’t coast along, it’s positive that there’s a character grappling with his sexual identity for young people that are in school now.
Beyond the United States, some countries have a less than favorable attitude towards civil rights for gays and bisexuals. For example, an article in the Washing Post mentions countries where homosexuality is legally allowed to be punishable by death such as Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates (Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/13/here-are-the-10-countries-where-homosexuality-may-be-punished-by-death-2/). The implications speak for themselves. The idea that countries could have less than forward thinking is beyond troubling. And that’s why people should not forget about equality for gays and bisexuals in the United States even if American society continues to become even more progressive in the coming years. As the Washing Post article illustrates, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a voice or live in a progressive country. If only more countries could be as progressive as Canada. In fact, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the first world leader to march in a gay pride parade (Source: http://www.christianpost.com/news/canadian-pm-justin-trudeau-first-world-leader-march-gay-pride-parade-166030/). Justin Trudeau ultimately exemplified how being a straight ally is easy and poses no threat to his own orientation.
So, sure. People can have the attitude of how biphobia and homophobia are only social issues, and there might be other issues that deserve more attention. Having a blasé attitude would be a mistake, though. Most people know someone who is gay/bisexual and wouldn’t want that person to suffer discrimination, regardless of any lingering uncertainties he or she might have over the issue.