APRIL KELLEY: “As a teenager, I presumed bisexuality was only ever a segue into lesbianism”
WORDS BY APRIL KELLEY. PHOTOS RYAN DANIELL
Every March for the last seven years, the wonderful, Stateside Bisexual Resource Center have been presenting #BiHealthMonth – the campaign I didn’t realise I needed in my life and, in light of the research, facts and statistics, one which is extremely important both for the LGBTQI+ community and our hetero friends.
This year’s campaign focuses on resilience, and understandably so. The bisexual+ community makes up the majority of the LGBTQI+ family and experiences significantly higher rates of physical, sexual, social and emotional violence and disparities, as well as worse physical, mental and social health.
Bisexual+ people often experience higher levels of mental health issues than their queer and straight peers, including suicide, substance use disorders, depression, and anxiety. And one of the causes of this poor mental health? Biphobia, bi erasure and invisibility. The irony is never lost on me that growing up, I’d wish I had the superpower of invisibility and now, as an adult*, I’ve somewhat achieved that goal…
In fact, for a long time I was part of the issue. I didn’t identify as bisexual until I was 25. I didn’t want a label, didn’t think I needed one – and not everyone does. Bisexual representation, within in the media and, well, everywhere, was non-existent. So much so that, from the age of 17, I had more sleepless nights wondering if I was gay or straight because I presumed bisexuality was only ever a segue into lesbianism…
It’s not all doom and gloom because, actually, in the face of it all, bisexuals+ have always persisted: shaping history, organising alongside vulnerable communities, and defying odds. We weather storms under the bisexual+ umbrella, an encompassing term for anyone attracted to more than one gender, regardless of what labels they use.
I count myself incredibly lucky to feel comfortable about being publicly bisexual and to have a network of supportive friends and family (even if it took some self-education on their part). I’m even more fortunate that in my line of work as a filmmaker, I’m able to openly create films such as my short, Treacle to shine a light on these matters. I’m also acutely aware there are many, many individuals out there who aren’t in the same position, who are confused and/or fearful – I know first-hand because I have those people reach out to me.
And that’s why Bi Health Week-come-Month is so necessary and can have such a positive, powerful impact on people’s lives – both those who are out already and those who aren’t. I found the Bisexual Resource Center at a time when I felt lost and they made me feel safe and not alone. In fact, I would say they’re the reason I chose to confidently identify as bisexual – and why did I make that decision? Because, despite having to still justify my sexuality in what feels like “coming out” again and again, (which I know has had an effect on my mental health) I knew ultimately that if I could be visible and bring comfort to even one 17-year-old who might be confused about their own bisexuality, then I had no reason to hide.
Everyone’s story is unique and beautiful and if you haven’t had a chance to tell yours, we’re ready to listen when you are. We hear you and we see you!
*I will never profess to being an actual adult, it’s unfortunately just how society sees me now.
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