This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of seeing Amy Andre speak at JMU. Her lecture about the poor health status of the bisexual community was extremely educational as I, and many other individuals I’m sure, were completely clueless about. Amy demonstrated through a series of statistics and charts the increased levels of depression, anxiety, alcoholism, smoking, drug use, etc. that are dramatically higher for bisexual individuals. I personally never realized just how controversial people made bisexuality out to be, until Amy called attention to that popular little response “it doesn’t exist.”
I found this statement to be particularly poignant because of the frequency of which it’s used. I’ve heard a million times people say things like “oh, just pick one,” giving no thought to whatsoever to the human being who was naturally made to have feelings for both sexes. Amy explained that many of the negative health conditions bisexual people suffer from, such as anxiety and alcoholism are inherently connected as a response to their environment. She stated that it’s been proven people who are able to build community and share their feelings with people like them statistically show they have better mental, and consequently physical health. In addition to this, she recognized that while the LGBT community is expanding and offering many more outlets for community building, it is through language that segregation still occurs. I found this to be extremely interesting because I had never noticed bisexual prejudice before she brought it to attention.
With reality television shows such as “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” that glorifies sex with anyone, regardless of whether you’re male or female I supposed the media had come to both recognize, and support bisexual people. It wasn’t until I saw the facts presented on screen by Amy Andre did I see just how wrong I was. Amy instilled the media’s negative representation of bisexuality by supplying a list of films and shows that incorporate bisexuality as a theme. Some examples included Basic Instinct, Brokeback Mountain, The L-Word, etc. all shown to have very negative interpretations/conclusions for the bisexual characters. As Amy said, “they’re either killing people or end up dying…that’s horrible!” While she had a good sense of humor about the sad reality for bisexual media illustration, I found it to be extremely upsetting. How can this be happening so regularly? Why isn’t more attention brought to the issue? And most importantly, how can we reinvent the bisexual character to accurately portray the millions of people in the U.S. alone that identify as bisexual? Enough is enough. We call ourselves modern, civilized and it certainly feels as though we are about to enter the middle ages with these backward ideas about sexuality.
Life is a precious gift for every human being, and no person’s quality of life should be lowered on the basis of his or her sexual preference. Amy Andre is an advocate for good health, period. It’s time to give back and reevaluate our language, our tone, and our comments. After all, is it healthy to be a jerk?