LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Bisexual+ people aren't an intersection of lesbian or gay!


Umut Erdem - Storyteller at Curious Steps, feminist and bi+ film activist

Unfortunately,  LGBTI+ activism that we're currently striving to do is not in favour of bisexual people. I'm mainly speaking about Turkey - but my argument can be repeated for all around the world because of the invisibility and ignorance about bisexuality.

Generally, I feel the erasure of the B in nearly every activity and declaration about LGBTI+ issues. As bisexuals, we are frequently seen as an intersection set of other sexual orientations, especially monosexual ones. We are like being “stuck in between”.

On the one hand, no one dares to completely erase B from LGBTI but on the other hand, no one wants to mention bisexuality. For example, within the scope of previous LGBTI+ Pride Week in İstanbul, bisexuality was only mentioned in a workshop on “Violence in Queer Relationships among women” that lesbian and bisexual feminists conducted. Bisexuality is generally limited to women - as if just some women who couldn't become lesbian are bisexual.

Furthermore, the problems that bisexual women have are never put into the agenda and considered. Bisexuality isn’t discussed enough and efficiently, either at Pride week or other LGBTİ+ activities. On the contrary, everyone thinks that they are extremely aware of what bisexuality is: BisexuaIity is seen as old-school; it is non-existence: “Do people who identify themselves as bisexual still exist?

Bisexual people's assertions are ignored and underestimated because of other people's thoughts, especially in LGBTİ+/queer community:

  • Because it is not queer enough
  • Because (if you're especially a woman) you have a possibility to be in relationship wih cis men
  • Because you're actually straight but trying to hide it.
  • Because you're trying to be lesbian/gay/queer and you're absolutely fake, untrustworthy.
  • But the main concern is the fact that bisexuals are not monosexual and people couldn't endure it.

As a bisexual activist in Turkey, I'm making great efforts to undermine the normativity that everyone is assumed to be either heterosexual or homosexual; that is, everyone is monosexual, which triggers bi+phobia. In Turkey, as bisexual activists, we are in the phase of telling people who bisexual are. Because I believe nearly nobody knows about bisexuality, which means that no LGBTİ+ activists advocate for the rights of bisexual people - but just bisexual people.

In Turkey, as bisexual activists, we're still trying to teach people that bisexuality can't be associated with gender binarism just as monosexuality isn't associated with that, bisexuality can't be ignored according to gender identity of person's partner(s). But despite of people's great deal of lack of knowledge about bisexuality, they often mock it. People turn bisexuality that they don't take seriously into a comic show.  In fact, it's phobia, discrimination and hatred against bisexuality. In Turkey, I and several bi+ activists try to overcome this kind of violence committed by LG(B)TI+ people and activists.

I eventually came out after my relationship (which was monogamous and closed with a cis heterosexual man) ended. I notice that this relationship blocked my desire and put an end to a discussion with myself about whether I also felt attraction to women. After this relationship ended, I began to discover and inquiry myself. I felt attraction to a person who is not a cis man. However, when I said to this person that I didn't have any sexual and/or romantic experience with people other than cis man, they directly identified me as heterosexual. I didn't assert that I was heterosexual - but they assigned me.

Another encounter and another blockage of my desire. Furthermore, this blockage was caused by a queer person. The hierarchy of experience over desire isn't inquired; on the contrary, it's easily adopted, which causes coming out of bisexual people to get very hard and excludes them from queer/LGBTİ+ community. The politics on bisexuality and monosexism, that is, bi+ politics and activism open up these issues for discussion and I find it very revolutionary.

Homo normativity is unfortunately adopted in LGBTİ+ community as if desires were always innately possessed, ignoring the fact that they are gradually constructed by discovering and trying.  Because of that, bisexual+ people are substantially discriminated and excluded.

Bi+ politics and activism have potential to transform this order, therefore, it's strong but it needs to be spread.

Because of these incidents in the LGBTİ+ movement, Bisexual Visibility Month and Day are substantial and great chances to describe and talk about bisexuality as an umbrella term. It especially empowers bisexual+ people in terms of telling us that we're not alone and we're strong together.

In Turkey, we've prepared a brochure about bi+sexuality in Turkish under the roof of Kaos GL, one of the biggest and oldest LGBTİ+ organization. I think this brochure is a very important resource about bisexuality, aims to undermine the myths having been created about bisexuality and make people consider the conditions bisexual+ people have to survive under. It's an unforgettable gift for Bisexual Visibility Month. Also LADEG+ (Support Group for Families and Relatives of LGBTİ+ people), Lambdaistanbul, and Izmir Young LGBTI Association in Turkey will organize activities for Bisexual Visibility Day. These activities and resources empower bisexual+ people to survive but much more is absolutely needed for especially bisexual health.