We have made several portraits of our fellow SHOUT-members for bivisibility week. With this we want to make bisexuality more visible and we hope that everyone gets a better understanding about what ‘being bi’ really means. In this portrait Laura is talking about what bisexuality means to them and why bisexuality needs to be more visible.

Please introduce yourself
Hi! I am Laura, a 26 year old masterstudent in mathematical biology. I sing at a choir and I like to enjoy a cup of tea with friends. Every two months, I have a new do-it-yourself hobby.

Why is the bi-visibility week important?
I am in a long term relationship of 8 years with my boyfriend and I don’t have an ex. So when I don’t tell people I am bi, they expect that I am heterosexual. But if my boyfriend was a girlfriend, they would immediately assume that I was a lesbian: being bisexual is not the option that people think of when they see me.

How do you see your own bisexuality, is it like: I like both men and woman, or is there more nuance?
Being bi means to me to be attracted to more than 1 gender, but that there is a difference in how I am attracted to for example a man, woman, or non-binary person.

Please describe how the exploration of your sexuality went for you

At high school I always thought I was a lesbian, because I never fell in love, but I always thought women were more beautiful than men. You can imagine that the surprise was huge when I fell for my boyfriend in my first year of university: was I straight after all? But also that was not completely right. Together with my boyfriend I explored this more, and I found out that I am most attracted to women and non-binary people: he is the most masculine person I ever brought home. Convenient, because now we can look at beautiful woman on the street together!

What needs to change the most in our society when we look at bisexuality?
Recently, I found a study that showed that a that 25% of Dutch people are uncomfortable with a bisexual person of their same gender. Whilst those same people did not show a problem with gay and lesbian people. Ofcourse that hurts: why does it make people uncomfortable that I like people with a wide arrange of ‘flacours’?

I don’t know where else that difference can come from than visibility: almost everyone knows a neighbor, classmate, or colleague that is gay or a lesbian. It is easy to find out, because if a woman talks about her girlfriend, it rings a bell. But how many bisexual people do you know in your environment? Only the people that told you (or have a variety of exes/partners). With more everyday examples we can discredit stereotypes about bisexual people, as easy as with stereotypes about homosexuals or heterosexuals.

Is there change needed within the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to bisexuality?
Every now and then I notice that bisexuality is seen as a step in between gay and straight, like you are only half out of the closet. If it were only true: study after study shows that bisexuals are behind on homosexuals when it comes down to acceptance, being victims of violence, and physical and mental health. Everyone in the LGBTQ+ community knows how important it is to be able to be yourself, so it is extra painful when those people don’t recognize your identity.

What are you most looking forward to in the future? Do you have any specific plans or dreams?
Graduate! I hope to be able to do a PhD when I am finished in a couple of months. Being paid to do research sounds amazing!

Would you like to say anything else?
In the context of ‘better the world, start with yourself’, I am looking of ways to be more visible myself. On the one hand, do people not notice when I don’t tell that I am bisexual, but on the other hand, do I not have many conversations where it feels natural to tell, especially in a professional setting. I now wear a pin with the bisexual colors, so that at least another bisexual doesn’t have to feel alone. Hopefully, will this be recognized by more and more people, so that they know they have a bisexual colleague or neighbor.