i’m not going to say bis experience more oppression that gay people or that gay people have privilege over us
but i’ve met gay people who have claimed that there’s no such thing as biphobia and that we can only experience “homophobia”
but i just read an old account from the late 1890s of oppression being directed toward bisexuals in particular
during this time, a psychologist coined the term “heterosexual” but he used it to mean a person who was attracted to people of both sexes
he described this as a horrible perversion, on par (and sometimes described as worse or especially bad but different than) homosexuality, a term invented thirty years prior. The quotes in this post from The Invention of Heterosexuality (1995) by Jonathan Ned Katz, which describes Dr. James Kiernan’s “Responsibility in Sexual Perversion” (1892):
These heterosexuals were associated with a mental condition “psychical hermaphroditism.’ This syndrome assumed that feelings had a biological sex. Heterosexual experiences so-called male erotic attraction to females and so-called female attraction to males. That is, these heterosexuals periodically felt “inclinations to both sexes.” The hetero in these heterosexual referred not to their interest in a different sex, but to their desire for two different sexes.”
there are a couple of case studies i read written by this man of people with attractions toward both sexes, and psychologists trying to “cure” them would guilt them MORE and submit them to harsher treatments than gay people because they assumed “heterosexuals” should be more curable than homosexual people, as they had some attraction to people of the opposite gender too, AND they felt these bi people were more to blame for their “perverted behavior” because they chose to engage in these activities instead of going with their “proper” inclinations for people of the same gender.
Discussing treatment prospects, the doctor notes that individuals erotically attracted to both sexes are the best candidates for conversion to heterosexual normality…
…For clients with clear interest in [opposite gender] lust, doctors felt that supporting that potential was especially pressing. [They] therefore subjected clients inclined to both sexes to especially severe moral censure when they continued willfully to follow their same-sex desires.
So basically, they targeted bis more for being “more curable” and than they punished them for not turning out to be.
This is the first time I’ve ever encountered ANY account of historical oppression specifically toward bi people in academic discourse - I know there’s more that must have happened most gay historians don’t even bother with it. The book I’m reading only bothers with it because this was an older use of the term “heterosexual”
It made me cry reading these case studies because it’s part of my history—and seeing people like me in history being oppressed like that is something completely new to me. But no one who isn’t bi really fucking cares to even mention this. I KNOW gay people have seen this guy’s writing — over and over because this text that’s quoted references gay people and is an important text in documenting the oppression of gay people, too that this gay academic cites and I’m sure many others have. But even in the book I’m reading, so far, bisexuality is only attached to those incidents in the INDEX not even in the main text or notes! And the author has yet to mention bisexuality ONCE. So I really want to start looking into bisexual studies and bi history. Because if we don’t study or analyze bisexuality and the history of it, no one else will