ABC’s of LGBT – The distinctions of biphobia and its impact on mental health
Bisexuality is an understudied demographic in the field of scientific research, not to mention a mystery to the general population. What researchers do note is the bisexual community’s increased rate of mental health difficulties and the unique challenges of biphobia.
To shed some light on the group, Open University in the United Kingdom researched and published The Bisexuality Report in February 2012. Researchers defined the term “bisexual” as: feeling an attraction toward both men and women, experiencing fluidity of sexual orientation over time, preferring one gender over another but acknowledging attraction towards the other gender still exists and/or seeing gender as irrelevant to attraction.
While discrimination toward gay and lesbian people has gained much attention in the media during recent years, biphobia is a lesser-known challenge, sometimes even hidden within lesbian and gay communities.
The Bisexuality Report found various aspects of biphobia present, such as a denial of bisexuality’s existence, with some believing bisexual people are “confused” or in denial of exclusive same-sex attraction. Additionally, the experiences of bisexual people are often erased when lumped together with those of gay men and lesbians during scientific study.
Stereotypes of bisexual people involving promiscuity, “home wrecking” and anti-monogamy are perpetuated by some, including those in lesbian and gay communities. This and other problems likely contribute to the mental health issues facing bisexual people.
The Bisexuality Report found bisexual people have the most alarming rates of mental health issues when compared to other sexual orientations. In this United Kingdom-based report, bisexual people reported numerous instances of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.
One similarity between bisexual people and others with varying sexual orientations and gender identities is the cost of the closet, or refusing to acknowledge and publically admit one’s natural feelings and wants. Contrary to popular belief, bisexual people don’t benefit from “blending in” with the gay and lesbian communities. This sentiment is demonstrated in a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health looking at the mental health of bisexual men.
Researchers looked at 203 nongay-identified men in New York City who self-reported bisexual behaviors but chose not to disclose this information to their female partners. While some participants revealed their orientation to friends or family, this did not seem to help deter struggles with depression and anxiety, shedding a new light on aspects of mental health treatment for bisexual people, according to Karolynn Siegel, Ph.D, professor of sociomedical sciences and a co-author of the study.
“Although disclosure may result in acceptance from family and friends, in other cases — particularly with female partners — disclosure may also result in rejecting reactions, which are adversely associated with mental health,” Dr. Siegel said.
Those struggling to find acceptance from loved ones regarding sexual orientation may experience mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression. Sovereign Health Group is a mental health treatment provider accepting of bisexual people and their troubles. Contact us today by calling 866-754-3385 for a referral.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer