Bisexuality, Vulnerability Race and Ethnicity
Theories about this Subpopulation
The subpopulation of bisexuality has endured their share of marginalization not only from the media but from the LGBTQ population mainly because they have not “picked a side” per se. Flanders & Hatfield (2014), examined how Americans view the LGBTQ community, more specifically; bisexuality, within the military, it speaks to sexual orientation and the heterosexual hierarchy, bisexual erasure, sexual flexibility, and homosexuality based upon the “one drop rule (if someone had one drop of black blood in them, they were considered black, but if they were black and had one drop of white blood in them, they were still considered black) and the “one-time rule” (if a person experiences sexual desire one time or engages in one homosexual act, he or she is ‘really’ homosexual and that is that) and speaks about the invisibility of the bisexual community as it relates to being part of the LGBTQ society.
The study compared sexual ?exibility over time across gender and found that lesbian women have not identified as homosexual at an earlier time than were gay men. The same study was conducted by Baumeister (2000) who similarly reported and argued that “female sexuality may be more malleable and ?exible”. According to the research, whereas women are accepted as being bisexual, men are viewed as homosexual when in fact, they are attracted to both sexes. As far as bisexual erasure goes, the study found it to be not that prevalent. They also found individuals may not believe bisexuals have an equal amount of experience or preference or that bisexuals must have had sex with both men and women.
Affects by the intersection of differences. The affects by the intersection of differences are evident in that as I stated earlier, the LGBTQ community does not recognize bisexuals as an equal part of their community and erasure and invisibility is prevalent towards the subpopulation. During my research, I found an interesting study concerning a Two-Spirited woman. The study was done by Robinson, M. (2017) and examined the lived experiences and recent community-based research of an indigenous woman who identifies as bisexual as well as the comparison between bisexual and two-spirit (having both a masculine and a feminine spirit) identity.
In the study, it is explained, The Bisexual Umbrella encompasses pansexuality, omnisexual, polysexual, queer, fluid, homo- and hetero-flexible, and bi-curious are also examined along with the complexity of the identities, the role of spirituality, the elevated rates of poverty, sexual violence, and the influence of colonialism as they relate to two-spirited individuals and bisexuality. In the study, it is also reported that being bisexual caused more hostility from gays and lesbians than being pansexual, queer or fluid identifying individuals. It is also reported that bisexual identifying individuals are likely to have many negative mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, alcohol use, or substance usage. It is noted that identifying as being two-spirited is spiritually based but not religiously based.
In other words, the individual’s function within “their place in a web of relationships with other people, with the animals that share their territories, and with the land itself”. The complex identities for these individuals range from identifying as bisexual or not due to the stereotyping and preconceptions of other individuals to the point where women choose not to identify as bisexual or unlabeled rather than lesbians or heterosexual. Also, some use two-spirited identity to describe their sexual difference rather than their gender difference.
When it comes to race, Husbands, et. al. reports, “black gay men who participated in MaBwana are much more likely to have sex with other Black men than with White men or men from other racialized communities, and only relatively small proportions of participants had sex exclusively with White men or men from other racialized communities (2013).”
Their vulnerabilities are documented as having high rates of poverty. 65% of the specific population report making less than $20,000 per year and social services and community aid is given. Poverty among these individuals could also contribute to their unmet mental health assessments, interventions, counseling and services being met. Sexual violence is also prevalent among two-spirited, bisexual females as opposed to lesbians and heterosexual females and statistically; 46.1% of bisexual women, 17.4% of heterosexual women and 13.1% of lesbians had been raped and some theorists believe it is due to the media portraying women bisexual statuses as women with sexual availability. Through a colonization lens, as bisexuality is part of the LGBTQ community, two-spirit individuals, by their identification, not only belong to the Indigenous community but to the Indigenous region and culture.
Although in the beginning, the purpose of the study was to show and measure the similarities between two-spirited individuals and bisexuality, the results showed similarities in the erasure, marginalization, and oppression suffered by both groups, however even though the results were not conclusive, the writer expressed fear of further oppression if the group was not represented. The umbrella represents both bisexuality and Indigenous two-spirited individuals however, one possesses both sexes whereas the other is drawn to both sexes (Robinson, M. 2017).
Tasker & Delvoye also did a study regarding bisexuality and motherhood in which this study examines bisexual mothers and their identification as such, as well as how they structure their relationships in a heterosexual society. The researcher looked at how the women challenged heteronormative expectations throughout their daily lives. The researcher also investigated the family structure vs the family process and its’ effects on children’s socioemotional development and found that the quality of family relationships is the key to a healthy environment for the children and not the gender of the parents.
As with the other studies where bisexuality erasure is prevalent, it is also prevalent in this bisexual parenting study. Like with heterosexual family dynamics, bisexuals face challenges after divorce and concerns regarding difficulties with bi-prejudices. There were different theories concerning motherhood and women’s bisexuality. The three theories researched in this study are feminist theory, queer theory, and the life course perspective.
The researcher reports some feminists are not sympathetic towards other self-identifying expressions such as heterosexuality and bisexuality. The study also reports almost all of the participants conquered that their children were their priority. The participant’s time and resources surrounded their expression that “the children come first” and that is where their emotional commitment lies. The mother’s commitment to their children was prevalent in all seven sub-themes prioritizing different needs and scenarios heterosexual parents face when raising children and the mother’s priorities matched if not excelled whether it cost them their identity or not. (Tasker, F., & Delvoye, M., 2015).
Johnson, & Grove, also speaks to the vulnerability of bisexual women and the negative consequences of sexual violence in that the report states, “limited research to date points to several vulnerability factors, including a cultural milieu prone to hyper-sexualization, objectification, and dehumanization of bisexual women; stereotypical understandings of bisexuality in women that may engender negative appraisals and resulting aggression toward this group; and an increased risk of problematic substance use, or negative consequences associated with one’s use of alcohol and/or other substances, in this population, possibly as a result of the aforementioned risk factors, (2017).”
Biopsychosocial Assessment For Your Chosen Subpopulation
Individuals identifying as bisexuals have the usual biopsychosocial assessments with a few other unique elements. Elements such as the quality of their relationships with their families, as well as their partners. This is to assess the support; or lack of, within their immediate network. It is also important to inquire about whether they have positive connections with and from their support systems; and do they feel safe talking about themselves with others. It is also important to know if they have a history of any kind of abuse, which again, helps to ensure they are safe, do they belong to any support groups; do they have a safe place to discuss their feelings, as well as an in-depth assessment of their mental status. Their attitudes towards their identity and how it has affected their lives since and if they have come out, their sexual behaviors; to assess their physical and medical safety, and any substance use disorder they might have experienced as well as their partner, are also vital in their biopsychosocial.
What Gay-affirmative Practice Would Look Like With This Subpopulation
Gay affirmative action for this population would be to, of course, meet the client where they are without trying to change them, like with any other client. It would be accepting their goals, if they are sound and healthy choices, and respecting their feelings regarding their identity and help normalize what might appear to be an abnormal situation. Ensuring the client is comfortable and protecting their authenticity will also be a key factor in results-driven therapy as well as ensuring the client help-acceptance of their sexual identification and according to Warren, Steffen, & Wayland, S. “engagement in gay affirmative practices and inclusive policies may contribute to a change in attitudes toward this practice and, perhaps ultimately, toward sexual minorities(2015).”
Areas of advocacy that would benefit this subpopulation. Advocacy for this population would consist of inclusion within the population of LGBTQ. Since bisexuals are marginalized by the rest of the LGBTQ community, I feel it would benefit them to have their voices heard and feelings validated by the rest of the community by reminding the community what the “B” stands for and by also reminding them of the struggles it took to reach the milestones they have achieved while also speaking to the fight they still have to endure. Advocating and rallying with bisexuals to have their rights and voices validated would be a good place to start.
Describe how you or others would undertake these advocacy actions. Being that we are now social workers and advocacy is what we do, we are a part of organizations like the NASW. This organization has an ear to the ground when dealing with advocacy opportunities in which social workers can be a part of. Keeping up with the latest updates, newsletters, and state advocacy opportunities would tremendously help the bisexual population.
Current research that exemplifies best practices with the bisexual subpopulation from the research I gathered is inclusiveness and Cognitive-behavioral therapy. According to Pachankis, Rendina, Hatzenbuehler, Safren, & Parsons, “Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is well suited to improving cognitive, affective, and behavioral minority stress processes because CBT locates present maladaptive behaviors in the context of their developmental function and current environmental contingencies, such as seeing depression and health-risk behaviors as learned responses for coping with minority stress, and CBT empowers clients to cope with adverse environmental circumstances such as minority stress by promoting coping self-efficacy, CBT encourages the replacement of maladaptive cognitive, affective, and behavioral stress responses, such as those emerging from minority stress and driving gay and bisexual men’s adverse health, and finally; CBT targets the universal risk factors disproportionately affecting sexual minorities. Therefore, encouraging adaptive reactions to stigma, such as locating the source of one’s mental health problems in minority stress, drawing on personal resilience as a gay or bisexual man, and learning strategies for reducing maladaptive minority stress reactions such as internalized homophobia or rejection sensitivity have been argued to naturally lend themselves to a CBT approach (2015).”
Since the beginning of this semester and after doing the readings and research, I have a new window in which to view bisexuality. As I stated in my annotated bibliography, I chose this population do to my sexual preferences when I was younger. To learn of the marginalization, bias, and exclusion of this subpopulation of the LGBTQ community, I believe as an African-American, female, older adult with a colorful background, I can identify with these individuals and the stigmas they face trying to be who they are within a society of judgmental, unempathetic society.
Flanders, C. E., & Hatfield, E. (2014). Social perception of bisexuality. Psychology & Sexuality, 5(3), 232–246. Retrieved February 2, 2019 from: https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1080/19419899.2012.749505
Husbands, W., Makoroka, L., Walcott, R., Adam, B., George, C., Remis, R., & Rourke, S. (2013). Black gay men as sexual subjects: race, racialization and the social relations of sex among Black gay men in Toronto. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(4), 434–449. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1080/13691058.2012.763186
Pachankis, J. E., Rendina, H. J., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Safren, S. A., & Parsons, J. T. (2015). LGB-Affirmative Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Young Adult Gay and Bisexual Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Transdiagnostic Minority Stress Approach. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 83(5), 875–889. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1037/ccp0000037
Robinson, M. (2017). Two-Spirit and Bisexual People: Different Umbrella, Same Rain. Journal of Bisexuality, 17(1), 7–29. Retrieved February 2, 2019 from: https://doi-
Tasker, F., & Delvoye, M., (2015). Moving out of the Shadows: Accomplishing Bisexual Motherhood. Sex Roles,73(3-4), 125-140. Retrieved February 2, 2019 from: https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1007/s11199-015-0503-z
Warren, A. R., Steffen, A. M., & Wayland, S. (2015). Predicting Gay Affirmative Practice from the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 58(7/8), 671–683. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1080/01634372.2015.1075237