Even though the words biphobia and homophobia exist independently, some people still fail to realise that they refer to two different experiences.

According to Bi.org biphobia is related to the term homophobia, in the sense that both refer to fear-based bigotry towards people who don't fit into heteronormative roles, but these words are not synonyms.

Homophobia refers to the stigma against gay people and against same-sex relationships, this means that the term homophobia also includes a bias against bisexual individuals. 

Biphobia, is a term that was coined by bisexual activists to describe specific kinds of bigotry unique to the bisexual experience.

READ MORE: Genderqueer, trans or pansexual - what does it all mean?

Wikipedia defines biphobia as an "aversion toward bisexuality and toward bisexual people as a social group or as individuals. It can take the form of denial that bisexuality is a genuine sexual orientation, or of negative stereotypes about people who are bisexual. People of any sexual orientation can experience or perpetuate biphobia, and it is a source of social discrimination against bisexual people."

This is a rather broad and dense definition that needs to be unpacked.

  • Biphobia is directed at people that identify as bisexual. It excludes all other people that are in the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Biphobia is the denial that bisexuality is a real sexual orientation. This can come from people that are heterosexual or people that believe that you either gay or lesbian and nothing in between.
  • Biphobia also comes in the form of calling bisexual individuals names such as 'confused', 'promiscuous', 'dishonest' and so on.
  • People within the LGBTQIA+ plus can be biphobic just like heterosexual people. 

READ MORE: Family, community and university support helps lesbian students thrive

In a survey conducted by Glamour, 63% of women, say that they wouldn't date a man who has had sex with another man. This is a rather high percentage of women considering that 37% of the women interviewed said that they have had a sexual experience with another woman and 63% believed that sexuality is fluid. 

Sexuality professor Ritch C. Savin-Williams told Glamour that women saying that they would not date a bisexual man "suggests that these women hold on to the view that while women occupy a wide spectrum of sexuality, men are either gay or straight."

Robyn Ochs, U.S-based international speaker and educator further explains that women not wanting to date bisexual men because of a fear of infidelity with another man is based on at least two misassumptions.

The first being that people fail to understand that identity and behaviour are two separate things. "If I were to tell you I identify as bisexual (which I do) you still know nothing about my sexual history or my current sexual behaviour," says Ochs.

People who are bisexual can be monogamous -or not-, and honest -or not-, just like people who identify as straight, lesbian or gay
Robyn Ochs

Ochs further says that the second misassumption is that identifying as bisexual does not mean that you must have more than one partner of more than one gender - people tend to make the assumption that bisexual individuals are more likely to be dishonest with their partner.

"People who are bisexual can be monogamous -or not-, and honest -or not-, just like people who identify as straight, lesbian or gay," Ochs clarifies.

Although some women say that their reasoning for not dating bisexual men is based on a preference some go further on to say they have fears of dating a bisexual man because of the idea that they may be secretly gay and cheated on with another man.

Some women are afraid they are at a higher risk of contracting STDs.

It's biphobic to believe there's an umbrella way to cover all bisexual people, considering the individual attributes people have.

READ MORE: “My boyfriend doesn’t know about my bisexual past — should I tell him?”

People that identify as bisexual challenge the cultural urge to put things into simple binaries, says Ochs. Society is still stuck on the idea that you are either male or female; gay or lesbian and that is why people struggle to understand bisexuality.  

Even Twitter seems to have gotten it wrong in the past...

Recently, according to The Guardian, singer Harry Styles performed a song in Paris called Medicine with the following lyrics:

“The boys and the girls are here / I mess around with him / And I’m OK with it.”

It's been hailed as a bisexual anthem by some fans and a step in the right direction when it comes to representation.

Have you ever dated or are with a bisexual partner? We'd love to hear your thoughts - mail us on chatback@w24.co.za

Watch: Why Bisexual Women Won't Date Bisexual Men - (Amber Rose & biphobia)

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