my life as a bisexual woman in 2014

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My Life as a Bisexual Woman in 2014 orbit housingby J

What is bisexual?

“Bisexual men and women have a sexual orientation involving physical or romantic attraction towards both men and women. Although a lot of progress has been made in developing a greater understanding of lesbian and gay people, there is still a widespread lack of understanding of bisexuality in society and their experiences of housing and employment.”

Delivering housing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers, Chartered Institute of Housing (2011)

My experience

I am very comfortable with my sexuality. I am ‘out’ to my friends, family and close colleagues. I recognise that for an increasing number of people your sexual orientation is accepted without question. When I joined Orbit I really welcomed finding out that we had the ‘Out in Orbit’ group.

However, there are still people who make inappropriate comments, assumptions or judgements, and this does make me think before disclosing my sexual orientation. No-one likes to be judged, or have negative assumptions made about them. Some of my less than positive experiences are listed below:

Some heterosexual men see lesbianism as purely titillation for their pleasure, and I have lost count of the number of such comments that have been made to me.

When living with a woman, my partner, my children and I were subjected to threats of violence, abuse and attacks on our home, by a small minority of our neighbours. This was due to us being a lesbian couple.

I was told by a female management committee member that they no longer felt safe in my company when they found out I was not straight.

I was told by colleagues that I was damaging my children by bringing them up in a lesbian household. My children are both now adults and do not agree.

As a bisexual woman I have been told that I must either need both a male and a female partner, or that I must ‘go with anything’ and therefore cannot be trusted. Most heterosexual people choose to have one partner at a time (at least most of the time), I do too. In the same way that most heterosexual people do not fancy everyone of the opposite sex, strangely enough I do not fancy everyone!

Some people struggle at not being able to put me in an either/or box. For me sexuality is a continuum – with some people being at one end or the other, but with a number of us being somewhere in between!

 

Why is sexual orientation important for housing?

A person’s sexual orientation can impact on their housing experiences:

The way that the census question about sexuality is asked can impact on a customer and may even make them decide not to respond or to hide their orientation

A Stonewall commissioned poll (2007) showed that 20% of Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual people expected to be treated less favourably than a heterosexual person when applying for a home

People may face harassment and hate crime in their homes and communities

Young people may present as homeless due to rejection by their families, or because they are too frightened to tell their families about their sexual orientation

There is evidence that some gay and bisexual men have reported problems in getting a mortgage (Brighton & Hove Council).

 

Specific challenges affecting bisexual people

“In addition to the challenges identified above, bisexual people often articulate the following experiences:

a lack of understanding and biphobia: a lack of understanding about bisexuality by employers, service providers, the wider community, and some lesbian and gay people can lead to negative stereotypes where bisexual people are labelled as being uncertain, indecisive and even unstable

perceptions of invisibility in the community: while there is developing visibility for lesbians and gay men, many bisexual people feel invisible in the community to service providers and with their employers

a lack of peer support networks: bisexual people often identify a lack of peer support networks which can lead to feelings of isolation and/or exclusion.”

Delivering housing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers, Chartered Institute of Housing (2011)

Finding out more

Bi.org is a web portal which lists a range of support networks and information for the bisexual community. You can visit bi.org at http://bi.org

Bisexuality – coming out and staying out is a booklet published by Bi Community News and produced by the UK Bi Activist Network. You can download a copy from www.bicommunitynews.co.uk/resources.html

Bi People is a report produced as part of Brighton and Hove’s 2008 Count Me In Too survey. (www.countmeintoo.co.uk/bi_people.php?search_term=Bi)

 

Reproduced with kind permission of Orbit Housing