Jayne B Shea

Bisexual, Poly, and LGBT Friendly Apparel, Products, and Stories

bisexual visibility

Bisexual Visibility Requires Bravery

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I have a confession to make. Sometimes I'm not brave enough to wear my own bisexual pride t-shirts. As I've mentioned before, I'm not out to everyone in my life. I firmly believe in bisexual visiblity and representation, but for me coming out is not something that happens just once and then it's done. It's a decision I make day-by-day, interaction-by-interaction.

Those moments I decide to be out with new people are incredibly inspiring. I find people are more free to be themselves when I model that behavior. I develop deeper connections with people and I love it. Even something as simple as wearing a bi pride t-shirt can spark a conversation and a connection that would not have existed otherwise. 

But some days, or in some contexts, I choose not to make my sexuality visible. And as frustrating as that may be to some champions of our cause, myself included, I am here to tell you and to remind myself: THAT IS OKAY!

Because here's the thing: selective visibility is self-care. The moments where I give myself permission to not be out make it more likely that I will do so when I'm feeling more comfortable. And I know from my experiences over the past few years that when I do let my bisexual pride shine, it is a beacon of hope and comfort for others in this community. And that is the best feeling of all.
 

Acceptance through Visibility: the Vital Importance of Identifying as Bisexual

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One of the most popular bisexual t-shirts I’ve seen (not one of mine) features the words “Nobody knows I’m bisexual.” The design, and its popularity, speak to a crucial issue for the bisexual community: lack of visibility. I’ve written about it before, and with Pride 2017 coming up I wanted to draw attention to it again. When people are able to identity as bisexual, both to themselves and to others, it has a significant impact on their own emotional health and on the community as a whole.

When we distance ourselves from our sexual identity, we’re hiding a valuable piece of ourselves and that takes a toll on us. In one of the most powerful TED talks I’ve seen, Ash Beckham likens it to holding a grenade. Self-erasure is a disease in the bi community, metaphorically, and I am 100% confident that it contributes to the real physical and mental health issues that are sadly so common to people of our sexuality. Add in the bisexual erasure we face from people of other sexualities, and the results are catastrophic. So what can you do to help fix this?

The first step is owning your own sexuality. Yes, bisexuality is “normal.” No, you don’t have to pick a side. No, it’s not just a phase. (Although for some people it might be, as sexuality can be fluid over time.) No, you don’t have to have had sexual experiences with any gender to know you’re bisexual! It helps to learn about bisexuality and do some self-exploration to determine how you identify. Are you bisexual/heteroromantic? Or biromantic/heterosexual? Or maybe biromantic/asexual? The more you know, the better communication you can have with your sexual and romantic partners. (Some of this will come over time as you have more sexual and romantic partners.) Overall, the more you understand accept your own identity, the more others can understand it and join you in celebrating it.

The next hurdle is being open about your bisexual identity with others. The tricky thing with bisexuality is that it can be easy for others to automatically, incorrectly identify you as gay or straight. I personally fight this by finding ways to reveal my identity. Sometimes I come straight out and tell people I’m bisexual (yes, sometimes it just comes up in conversation.) Other times I find ways to mention an ex and use female pronouns when talking about her. And of course I can always wear one of my shirts – they are always conversation starters and some are more subtle than others.

I choose my battles. I don’t reveal my identity to people who I know might have issues with it. Maybe someday I will, but not yet. But here’s the cool thing: when people figure out or find out that I’m bisexual, an amazing thing often happens. They reveal their own sexual identity to me, or share some experiences they have had. Straight people often ask the best questions about my bisexuality and polyamory and how my relationships work. When I learn that friends and acquaintances are bisexual, I always come out to them in return. It helps to know that you are not alone, and that you have a community to rely on for support.

Some people aren’t able to be out as bisexual, and that’s ok. Others don’t like the label bisexual. That’s fine too. What I’m asking is this: if you’re able, embrace your bisexual identity.

Don’t do it for LGTQA folks. Don’t do it for straight folks. Do it for the young bi kid who has never known a bisexual person. Do it to benefit the bisexual community as a whole. And most importantly, do it for yourself and embrace your bisexual identity.

How can I celebrate Bisexual Health Awareness Month?

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The powers that be (mainly the Bisexual Resource Center) have decided that March is when we celebrate Bisexual Health Awareness Month, in addition to St. Patrick's Day (my third favorite holiday.) Let's dig in to some of the facts on bisexual health:

The list goes on and on...

Given these staggering, often tragic statistics, why is bisexual health awareness cause for celebration? And how exactly can we go about celebrating it? The answer lies in some of the more positive, encouraging facts, including that bisexual people make up more than half of the LGBT population, that the percentage of people who identify as bisexual is increasing, and that studies are proving the benefits of coming out as bisexual.

When we as a community are aware of the unique mental and physical health challenges that bisexual people face, we can work together to address them. As individuals, bisexual health awareness can help us get and stay healthy.

Bisexual Health Awareness Month is ending soon, so here are six practical ways you can celebrate it this week, or any time throughout the year:

  1. Get the facts: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Knowledge is power. You can start by scrolling #BHAM2017 on Twitter.
  2. Help educate others about bisexual health, including both straight and queer people.
  3. Help your healthcare provider learn how to be a good bisexual health ally. (Or find one who's open to doing so.) Here's a great visual summary of how they can do that, taken from BiNet's excellent Bisexual Community Issues Presentation.
  4. Come out to your doctor and get tested for the full spectrum of STDs. Personally, I have found, and my partners have as well, that telling doctors that I have multiple partners of multiple genders makes them more willing to provide full STD screenings.
  5. If it is safe for you to do so, come out in general, especially to those who are closest to you. (In case it doesn't go so well, here's a great resource from the BRC.)
  6. Connect with the bisexual community. Given the lack of visibility and acceptance of bisexuality, being bisexual is often a lonely and isolating experience. Connecting with fellow bisexual people can help! BiNet has put together a great map of bi groups and even something as simple as connecting with bi advocates and activists like me on Twitter can help as well.

If you have questions about bisexuality or bisexual health, or if you just need to talk, please reach out to me. Be safe, be happy and be well.

Love & Pride,

Jayne

A Message of Bisexual and LGBT Love for Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day is a tough one for queer people and single people alike. For those who can't be open about who they love, it hurts to have to stay silent. Those who are alone may be hurting as well. I posted this message on my social media channels and I wanted to share it here too:

You are beautiful. You are loved. You are enough.

- Jayne

PS - I published a new erotica short story ebook. I put a lot of work into making the bisexual/polyamorous relationship in it realistic, so I hope you'll take a look and give me feedback if you have any. Thanks!

The Unicorn is My Bisexual Patronus

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Both my logo and my very first bisexual pride t-shirt design feature a unicorn silhouette and my personal take on the bisexual flag. Why? I've decided to name the unicorn as my patronus and reclaim it for all bisexual men and women, to prove that we do exist and combat bisexual erasure. This is in part because "unicorn" is often used in the swinger community as a euphemism for a single bisexual female willing to sleep with a couple.  It's primarily because of the bisexual community's fight to make ourselves known. and to make sure that the B in lgBt is not silent.

Note: this post has been updated to remove the term "spirit animal." Unfortunately, the URL can not be updated and the original title may appear in some older indexed versions of the page. When I first wrote it I was unaware of the appropriative nature of that term. I apologize for that.