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social sciences

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BiNet USA  
page: 1  2  

The denial of bisexuality stems from looking at the world through a binary lens that sees sexual orientation and behavior only in terms of homosexuality and heterosexuality, when in fact human sexual behavior is far more fluid than those categories can accommodate.

Often bisexuality and bisexuals are erased by the assumption that people who claim to be bisexual are really closeted homosexuals or in transition toward acceptance of their homosexuality.

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Bisexual erasure also occurs when cultural and historical figures, such as writers and artists and politicians, who have had extensive sexual experience with both sexes are nevertheless referred to as gay or lesbian rather than bisexual.

For example, Oscar Wilde, who was married and produced children, is usually simplistically described as homosexual, while Virginia Woolf, who was also heterosexually married, is often represented merely as a lesbian rather than a bisexual.

Within glbtq activist circles, bisexual erasure is sometimes manifested when bisexuals are not accorded equal status in the movement for equal rights, perhaps on the assumption that bisexuals partake of the heterosexual privilege denied to gay, lesbian, and people.

One of BiNet USA's first attempts to confront bisexual erasure within the glbtq equality movement was the successful campaign to include "Bi" in the name of the 1993 "National March on Washington for Gay, Lesbian, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation."

When the anthology, Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out, edited by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu, was forced to compete for a Lambda Literary Award under the category "Lesbian Anthology," BiNet USA accused the Lambda Literary Foundation of practicing bisexual erasure because it failed to recognize the equal status of bisexuality in the glbtq literary community. For the 2006 competitions, the Lambda Literary Foundation added a bisexual category to recognize bisexual literary achievements.

J. Michael Bailey, the controversial American psychologist and academic, who has been accused of misconduct in his work on , has also been attacked by bisexual groups and individuals for practicing bisexual erasure as a result of a 2005 study he co-authored that questioned the reality of male bisexuality.

Finally, bisexuals are erased when a person who identifies as bisexual becomes involved in a heterosexual relationship and others assume that he or she is no longer bisexual.


The work of BiNet USA has been instrumental in increasing the visibility of bisexuals within the glbtq community and within society as a whole. The organization has also helped educate bisexuals and others about the contributions of bisexuals to world history and culture and about the unique challenges faced by bisexuals in contemporary America.

Claude J. Summers

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literature >> Overview:  Awards

The contemporary literary awards given specifically to honor glbtq books may be seen as an outgrowth of the modern American gay rights movement, so intertwined are they with the movement for equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Bisexuality

Although until recently rejected by most sexologists as a distinct sexual identity, bisexuality is gradually becoming recognized and studied as such.

literature >> Overview:  Bisexual Literature

Although Western culture's reliance upon binary systems of classification and identification has meant the practical erasure of bisexuality, as such, from literary and cultural analysis, bisexual experiences appear in many literary works from ancient times to the present.

social sciences >> Overview:  Bisexual Movements

Although bisexuals have played an important part in the glbt movement for equality, they often had to hide their bisexuality; more recently, however, the bisexual movement has been accepted as part of the larger glbt movement and bisexual organizations now flourish.

social sciences >> Overview:  Holidays and Observances

Throughout the year, the glbtq community unites in pride and in protest, in recognition of a rich heritage and in hope for the future.

social sciences >> Overview:  Marches on Washington

Marches on Washington in support of the rights of glbtq people have been a significant part of the modern movement for equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Mixed-Orientation Marriages

Mixed-orientation marriages--those in which one partner is straight and the other is gay or lesbian--often end in divorce, but such an ending is not inevitable.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation indicates erotic attraction, whether toward people of the same gender (homosexual), the opposite gender (heterosexual), or both (bisexual).

social sciences >> National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)

The oldest continuously operating national glbtq interest group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has played a significant role in the development of the glbtq movement for equal rights.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

literature >> Woolf, Virginia

Passionate friendships with women were essential to the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.


BiNet USA News and Opinions.

BiNet USA Website:

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The Problems with 'Straight, Gay or Lying?'" (July 2005):

Udis-Kessler, Amanda. "Identity/Politics: A History of the Bisexual Movement." Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, and Visions. Naomi Tucker, ed. Binghamton, N. Y.: Harrington Park Press, 1995. 17-30.

"Wendy Curry: BiNet USA." (August 4, 2007):


    Citation Information
    Author: Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: BiNet USA  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2009  
    Date Last Updated October 20, 2009  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2009 glbtq, Inc.  


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