Bisexual people would still belong at Pride even if they only amounted to 1 percent of the LGBT community.
And yet, even though bisexual people actually “comprise a slight majority” of the LGBT population—according to an estimate from the Williams Institute—many still feel uncomfortable attending a celebration that ostensibly includes them.
“As a bisexual woman who has never been in a relationship with another woman, it’s always hard fighting off the erasure of my sexuality,” Hannah, who asked to be identified by her first name, told The Daily Beast about her experiences at Pride.
“When I attend Pride parades with my significant other,” she continued, “I feel as though we get constant glares and rude under-the-breath comments because we ‘look’ as if we are two heterosexual people in a place we don’t belong.”
Hannah is far from alone: Forty-three percent of bisexual women in a 2016 survey conducted by the dating app Her said they felt uncomfortable at Pride, as Broadly first reported.
The particularly strong stigma around bisexual men doesn’t make it any easier for them to attend Pride, either; in fact, studies suggest that bisexual men are considerably less likely to be comfortable being out than bisexual women, who are, in turn, less likely to be out than gay men or lesbians (PDF).
Like Hannah, many bisexual people at Pride have to combat the assumption that they are, in fact, heterosexual just because they show up at the festivities with a partner of another sex.
“Every time, without fail, that I go to a gay club, a networking mixer, or really anywhere where there’s queer people, I feel judged for not being ‘queer enough,’” Kim Ryberg, a bisexual woman married to a man, told The Daily Beast. “And this is especially true at Pride.”
Ryberg added that she’ll hear comments at parades or bars like, “Oh, you can’t be be bi! You came here with a man!” from people who clearly need to consult the dictionary definition of “bisexuality.”
Others have to deal with the myth that all bisexual people are just “on the way” to coming out as gay or lesbian—a version of the age-old stereotype that bisexuality is not in and of itself a valid sexual orientation but rather a “phase.”
Haylie Sumner-Lindberg, a bisexual woman, told The Daily Beast that when she went to Pride she “didn’t expect… the large amount of women I met who asked me if I was straight.”
“When I explained to them that I’m bi, I got almost knowing looks and nods, as if they were saying, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve all been there before,’” she said. “Or maybe they thought I was a straight girl posing as queer to take part in the festivities.”
Meanwhile, the evidence is only getting clearer that bisexual people constitute about half of the entire LGBT community.
A June 2018 poll from BuzzFeed News and Whitman Insight Strategies found that 46 percent of LGBTQ Americans are bisexual as compared to 32 percent who are gay and 16 percent who are lesbian. (Five percent identified as queer, or described their sexual orientation in another way.)
If a new YouGov poll is any indication, there are even more people whose desires and attraction follow a bisexual pattern than there are people who would explicitly claim the label “bisexual.”
That June 2018 YouGov data shows that 20 percent of Americans now identify as something other than “completely heterosexual” or “completely homosexual.” That would amount to about 65 million people—a population approaching the size of California and Texas combined.
Yet, despite this overwhelming numerical strength, some bisexual people who attend Pride are still surprised to see anyone else like them there.
Morgan Caudill, a bisexual woman who has been to two Prides in Detroit and nearby Ferndale, told The Daily Beast that she was “really surprised by just how many bisexual flags there were everywhere,” adding that she “only expected to see maybe a handful.”
06.22.18 8:57 PM ET