It's Time to Stop Ignoring Bisexuality

British diver Tom Daley came out as bisexual, but you would hardly know it by reading the media reports.

The world media rushed to report the coming-out of British diver Tom Daley, who announced on YouTube that he is in a relationship with a man. “Come spring this year, my life changed massively when I met someone, and they make me feel so happy, so safe …. And that someone is a guy.”

According to Daley, “It was always in the back of my head that something like that could happen, but it wasn’t until spring this year that something just clicked .... Of course I still fancy girls, but right now I’m dating a guy and I couldn’t be happier.”

Daley says he released the video to prevent his words from being distorted by the media. Ironically, it seems the effort has failed. Although the video has received worldwide coverage, one thing is missing from almost every report: the word “bisexual.”

Despite Daley’s statement that he's now in a relationship with a man but is still attracted to women, most English-speaking media said he had come out as gay. In Israel as well, although the media avoided the word “homosexual,” not one report included the word “bisexual.” In fact, a number completely ignored Daley’s comment that he is also attracted to women.

This phenomenon, in which bisexuality is denied or concealed, is called “bisexual erasure” – part of the phenomenon of biphobia. It can be seen not only in Daley’s case but in all spheres of life.

But in the media there is almost no discussion on bisexuality. In the few cases where bisexual behavior isn't denied, such an identity and the word “bisexual” itself are always questioned and sooner or later replaced by homosexuality or lesbianism. Most of the time the world behaves as if bisexuality did not exist - in fact could not exist.

This denial shows that bisexuality is a concept that most people cannot handle. Bisexuality implies that attraction is not exclusive and therefore most heterosexuals are capable of being attracted to people of the same gender.

This fact stirs anxiety in many people, and with it the need to put sexuality into two separate, stable categories, homosexuality and heterosexuality. As American feminist Kate Millett wrote, “Homosexuality was invented by a straight world dealing with its own bisexuality.”

In cases like Daley’s, it's fascinating to see how the media hasten to hide the gap between reality and anxiety. But the time has come to make a place for bisexuality – as a behavior, an identity, a discourse and as potential for change.

Shiri Eisner is a writer, feminist and bisexual activist. Her English-language blog is called Bi radical.

AFP