Bisexual Health Awareness Month Reflection
By Jenna Brownfield and Amanda Pollitt
Throughout the month of March, the Bisexual Resource Center organized the fourth Bisexual Health Awareness Month campaign. This year, they placed an emphasis on bisexual social health. The Div. 44 Bisexual Issues Committee celebrated Bisexual Health Awareness Month by asking bi+ psychologists, trainees and allied professionals to briefly share what social health means to them via an anonymous survey. We wanted to thank those of you who participated in the survey and offer a reflection (along with an infographic to accompany the reflection) on bi+ social health based on responses to the survey.
The concept of social health can feel like an ambiguous term. If we think about social health as psychological health and/or well-being, we quickly realize that bisexual individuals' social health is studied in a limited capacity and is often studied in an aggregate fashion with lesbian and gay individuals' social health. These occurrences further contribute to experiences of erasure and invisibility for bisexual individuals by failing to acknowledge the distinct experiences bisexual individuals might navigate in order to achieve healthy living, especially socially healthy living.
Bi+ psychologists, trainees and allied professionals that responded to our brief survey highlighted the need for community in order to feel socially healthy. There is a need for bi+ individuals to have bi-specific community and bi+ role models, as well as bi-affirming allies. These allies often consist of individuals who do not make assumptions about bi+ individuals and show comfort with one's bi+ identity. Efforts to make more spaces bi-affirming can aid in increasing bi+ people's social health, such as having more affirming families of origin, chosen queer families, partners, geographic areas and continuing to build a bi-affirming field of psychology.
Visibility reigns as another factor important to bisexual social health. Facing erasure from both straight individuals and gay/lesbian individuals frequently impedes bi+ individuals' social health. Having visibility for respondents to our survey meant being able to be out in the psychology field, being able to use one's voice to counter issues of erasure and invisibility, and feeling loved as a bi+ person not just as the monosexual person (straight, gay/lesbian) that others assume you to be.
In continued efforts to promote bi+ social health, it seems valuable to find ways to live authentically as bi+ individuals, experience social efficacy, challenge biphobia/binegativity, celebrate the diversity of bi+ identities and promote strength-based perspectives. Let us focus on engaging in more regular dialogues about identities and intersectionality, as well as celebrating our progress and continuing to identify next steps in supporting bi+ individuals' social health.