Jennifer Wilber is a writer, teacher, and bisexual rights activist from Ohio.
What Is Bi Visibility Day?
Bi Visibility Day, also known as International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, is a holiday meant to increase awareness of the unique struggles that, we, as bi individuals, face within the LGBT+ community. This holiday was designed to help bi people around the world fight the feelings of social isolation that we often face in a world that expects us to be either straight or gay. Bi Visibility Day was first introduced in 1999 and is celebrated every year on September 23rd all around the world. It is a day to speak out against biphobia and to help bisexual people to find our place within the global bi community.
Bi Visibility Day provides a platform to the bi community to bring global attention to the social, economic, and cultural prejudices and challenges often faced by bisexual men and women.
The History of Bi Visibility Day
Bi Visibility Day, originally known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day, was created by three bisexual rights activists in 1999. It has been celebrated every year since on September 23rd. Bi Visibility Day was created by bi rights activists Wendy Curry from Maine, Michael Page from Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur from Texas, and was first observed at the International Lesbian and Gay Association Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to Gigi Raven Wilbur:
Ever since the Stonewall rebellion, the gay and lesbian community has grown in strength and visibility. The bisexual community also has grown in strength but in many ways, we are still invisible. I too have been conditioned by society to automatically label a couple walking hand in hand as either straight or gay, depending upon the perceived gender of each person
At first, Bi Visibility Day was only observed in areas with a strong bi presence, but it is now celebrated all across the United States, as well as in many other countries, including Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK.
On September 18th, 2012, Berkeley, California became the first city in the United States to officially proclaim September 23rd as a day to recognize bi individuals. The Berkeley City Council unanimously declared September 23rd to be Bisexual Pride and Bi Visibility Day.
On September 23rd, 2013, in the United States, the White House held a closed-door meeting with about 30 bisexual advocates, who met with government officials to discuss issues of specific importance to the bisexual community. This was the first bi-specific event to ever be hosted by any White House.
On September 23rd, 2013, in the UK, Jo Swinson, government minister for Women and Equalities, issued a statement stating, in part:
I welcome Bi Visibility Day which helps to raise awareness of the issues that bisexual people can face and provides an opportunity to celebrate diversity and focus on the B in LGB&T [sic].
Why Is Bi Visibility Day Important?
Bi Visibility Day is important because it helps to make bisexuality more visible within the LGBT+ community. Bi people are still often ignored and erased by other members of the LGBT+ community, making it difficult for bi-identified people to access the services offered by LGBT+ organizations.
When bi people aren’t being erased, they experience biphobia, even within the LGBT+ community. Many lesbians and gay men refuse to date or even associate with bi people because of unfair myths and stereotypes that still persist within LGBT+ spaces
Bi erasure and biphobia are huge problems for people who identify as bi. Because of the stigmatization and marginalization of bi people by both the straight and LGBT+ communities, bisexuals are at a greater risk of becoming victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Bisexual people also face increased rates of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
I have seen how bi people are stigmatized and marginalized even in spaces that are meant to be safe havens for LGBT+ people. It isn’t uncommon for other people in LGBT+ groups to make disparaging remarks about bisexuals, or for these organizations to ignore the needs of bisexual members. Bi people are often seen as merely “allies” when they are accepted at all in LGBT+ organizations.
Bi Visibility Day raises awareness of these issues and helps bi men and women to connect with other people like themselves.
Bisexual+ Awareness Week
In addition to Bi Visibility Day on September 23rd, some organizations also recognize Bisexual+ Awareness Week, which begins the Sunday before Bi Visibility Day. Bisexual+ Awareness Week was first introduced by BiNet USA in 2014 and was cofounded by GLAAD.
According to GLAAD, the goals of Bisexual+ Awareness Week include accelerating acceptance of the bisexual+ community, bringing awareness to the experiences of the bi community, and celebrating the resiliency of this community.
Both bi+ individuals and their allies are encouraged to spend the week learning about the "history, culture, community, and current policy priorities of bi+ communities," according to GLAAD. Bisexual+ Awareness Week is also an important opportunity for bi-identified individuals to fight feelings of isolation, to create more visibility for other people who may be exploring their sexuality, to meet other bi+ people, and to become integral members of the bi community by coming out or by sharing personal experiences with the community.
Other Names for Bi Visibility Day
You may also hear Bi Visibility Day referred to by several other names. In its first year, Bi Visibility Day was originally referred to as Celebrate Bisexuality Day. This name is still sometimes used by event organizers today.
When the day was first officially recognized by Berkeley City Council in 2012, it was called Bisexual Pride and Bi Visibility Day.
Many individuals and organizations, including GLAAD, currently refer to this holiday as Bisexuality+ Day, with the inclusion of the "+" sign meant to include the broader bi+ community of non-monosexual people who prefer to use other terms to describe their sexual orientation, including pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, fluid, or queer.
How You Can Celebrate Bi Visibility Day
Bi Visibility Day celebrations and events take place all over the world. Bi Visibility Day events include discussions, workshops, and conferences to highlight the history and culture of the bisexual community, as well as to address the issues faced by bi-identified people. LGBT+ organizations hold public outreach and educational programs to inform the public about the rights of bisexual people and the challenges they often face.
Some of these LGBT+ organizations also hold lobbying events in which they reach out to local representatives to urge them to consider the issues faced by the bi community as part of their policy agenda.
There is a list of Bi Visibility Day events hosted around the world on the official Bi Visibility Day website. This website lists details for events for Bi Visibility Day/Celebrate Bisexuality Day as they are submitted by organizers across the globe.
I have found that FaceBook is a great way to learn about local Bi Visibility Day events. There are many events listed on the Bi Visibility Day website, but you may find listings for other local events for Bi Visibility Day by connecting with local Bisexual or LGBT+ organizations on social media. I have also found that FaceBook’s events page is a great way to learn about local events based on your interests.
If there isn’t a Bi Visibility Day celebration near you, you can still participate in online communities. There is a Bi Visibility Day page on FaceBook where you can connect with other bi-identified people and find out about local Bi Visibility Day Events. Even when I can’t attend an actual event for this day, I still enjoy using Bi Visibility profile photo frames on FaceBook to help create visibility for the bi community.
If there isn’t an event near you, you may also consider hosting your own Bi Visibility Day event if you have the resources. This can be a challenge, but there may be local groups who could help you to organize an event if you reach out to them.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber