At this point you must have come across a story or ‘scandal’ that goes something like this: a man or woman formerly presumed to be happily married to their spouse of the opposite sex is unexpectedly revealed to be having an illicit affair outside his/her marriage. But the kicker is, this person is having an affair with someone of the same sex. When this happens we are all quick to brand the erring man/woman as homosexual and castigate them as deceiving their husbands/wives and denying their true nature. But really, as with everything else in life, it is never really that simple.
Of course, some of the men/women who step out on their spouses with people of the same sex are gay and in denial or even in the closet, but a good percentage of people who marry someone of the other sex and date people of the same sex on the side are actually bisexual.
Like every other sexuality on the spectrum, there are far more bisexual people than we realise. Bisexuality has largely remained a taboo because as humans we believe strongly in placing people in distinct categories and we ostracise people whose realities are not contained by these limitations. Bisexual people are attracted to people of both genders, some equally, others to varying levels of interest. This attraction, no matter how insignificant it seems to casual observers, is valid and denying a bisexual person’s attractions is a form of erasure.
In a conservative culture like Nigeria, bisexual people suffer double discrimination and erasure, first from heterosexual persons who dismiss them as ‘gay’ or ‘straight and having a phase’ (depending on their gender) and discrimination from the homosexual community who see the bisexual as either unwilling to come out of the closet or trying to pass as ‘heterosexual’. As such the bisexual in Nigeria is forced to ‘pick a side’, and deny their nature. Heterosexuality offers more privileges and the bisexual is often forced to choose that path, with disastrous consequences.
Bi Visibility day could offer another option for people attracted to both genders living in Nigeria. It could open up the conversation on sexuality and how the spectrum of sexuality and attraction is often more complicated than we realise. But more importantly it will finally help bisexual person find real acceptance within the LGBT community.
And if you’re not altruistic enough to do that for the bisexuals, then think about it this way: as a heterosexual, you are a Bi Visibility day away from getting with/marrying person who will step out on you because they got tired of supressing their sexuality to suit societal standards.