We’re not just talking about history books here. “History” is everything.
Being aware of our cultural contributions. Telling our stories in TV and print media, including educational materials. Ending the cycle of erasure, secrecy, and stigma.
We all need to see our experiences represented accurately. To see that we’re a part of something good, something bigger than ourselves.
It lets us feel supported, discover new sides of ourselves, and find positive roles to play in the world.
It lets us begin to feel equal to the people whose stories we’ve been told all our lives.
When people can see that their identity connects them to the Ballad of Mulan, to the Civil Rights Movement, to Stonewall, it gives them a deep sense of connection, joy, and pride.
"You need to know where you come from
to know who you are."
- Markus, Detroit: Become Human
But bi+ people struggle to find that representation anywhere.
When hundreds of articles describe a Supreme Court case as deciding whether employment discrimination laws cover “gay and transgender workers,” they’re erasing bi/pan workers from history in progress.
When the bi+ representation on top-rated shows includes:
• the murders of multiple stereotypical “cheating bisexuals”;
• multiple “characters that are introduced as or presumed straight[, who] fall in love with somebody of their gender and immediately become gay, as though bisexuality is not a viable option that is discovered by many real-life bisexual people in just this way”;
They’re joining many other shows in a historical pattern of treating bisexuality as a joke, a myth, and a problem.
(And contributing to the fact that, although GLAAD’s research shows that 8% of millennials are bi/pan, 4% ace, and 3% gay/lesbian, on scripted broadcast television — which still creates the lion’s share of TV shows — the same demographic is 3% bi/pan, 0% ace, and close to 10% gay/lesbian.)
When there are no bi+ history books; when bi+ content is glossed over or, more often, left out of LGBT+ history books and documentaries….
When most of the community knows that Pride commemorates Stonewall, but not that the “Mother of Pride,” Brenda Howard, was a Jewish bi woman….
When most of us can name Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera, and Marsha P. Johnson, but had no idea that Sylvia and Marsha were not only iconic trans women of color, but bi+ icons as well….
When none of the LGBT+ curriculum materials available have any bi+ content….
We struggle to feel safety, support, joy, or pride.
There are many ways to measure oppression and its effects.
Some of the most common ways include the rates of harassment, assault, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and more.
The scariest, and clearest, might be suicidality.
Every oppressed community can point to disproportionately high rates of assault and murder.
But the very highest numbers measure our desires to, and attempts to, kill ourselves.
Lots of situations can contribute to suicidal feelings. But studies consistently show that what’s at the root of those feelings is thwarted belongingness or social isolation.
In other words: the deep shame and hopelessness caused by your community rejecting you.
Roughly one in three bi+ teens in the U.S. has survived a suicide attempt.
Data is from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
"The library became my sanctuary and classroom for two consecutive years. [...] At the library I remember reading all types of Black queer and Black feminist literary culture: the poems and poetry of Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and Asha Bandele; the novels of James Baldwin; and national news stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and gender nonconforming people....
"These writers and their works were at the center of the pedagogy of empowerment and self-making I created for myself.
"Through my self-created pedagogy and for the first time in my life I saw Black LGBTQ people depicted as brilliant thinkers, resilient people, lifelong warriors; I learned that they loved and were loved by others, that they laughed and danced and sang and painted and prayed and dreamed just like everyone else.
"I created a place in which I could finally be 'all of who I am in the same place.' I began to gather the critical intellectual tools and personal affirmation to do as Ms. Sinclair had commanded me: to wrestle from my greatest fears the power it had stolen and the life I was being denied."
Bi+ History Month is a project of Unicorn March.
Unicorn March is all about support, pride, and celebration, for everyone who falls through the cracks of the LGBTQIPA+ community. All of us with intersecting oppressions, and everyone who doesn’t fit into those neat, understandable binary models that get more attention and advocacy.
The bi, pan, ply, omni, ace spectrum, aromantic spectrum, polyamorous, genderqueer, nonbinary, intersex, and just plain queer folks whose experiences are so often erased.
The unicorns. The amazing creatures that so many people, even in our own community, don’t believe exist… but who make the world such a magical place to live in.
If you’d like to get occasional updates with bi+ history resources, online Pride march announcements, and fun future projects, follow Unicorn March on social media, or sign up for our newsletters!