The Nation’s First Bi Governor and the Importance of the “B” in “LGBT”

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February 19, 2015

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown made history yesterday when she became the nation’s first openly LGBT person — and, more specifically, the first openly bisexual person — to be sworn in as governor.

Bisexual-identified people make up a higher percentage of the U.S. population than both lesbian- and gay-identified people combined, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute. That’s more than 4 million people. But bisexuals are often ignored by the community at large, and the LGBT rights movement in particular must do more to ensure that it meets the needs of all parts of our community.

The bisexual community has worked for decades to combat biphobia — from both heterosexual and lesbian and gay communities — that frequently manifests in instances of bisexual erasure or invisibility. There are common misperceptions: that bisexuality is a transitional or incomplete identity (“it’s just a phase” or “bisexual people are actually gay or lesbian”), that heterosexuality and homosexuality are more valid or better identities than bisexuality (also known as monosexism), and that bisexuality doesn’t actually exist at all. Portrayals of bisexual characters in media are rare, and when they do exist, they  often suffer from these stereotypes.

Lambda Legal is proud to fight for the rights of all LGBT people and people living with HIV. We actively support all efforts to ensure visibility and awareness for all members of the communities we serve. Gov. Brown has been out her entire political career, and while her vocal support for bisexual visibility helps to de-stigmatize bisexuality, it is incumbent upon us all to act as allies to the bisexual community and help combat bisexual erasure in both the media and daily life.

Photo by Josh Goldberg, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.