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Student Project raises Awareness of Bi Visibility Day

by Christine Panzram

COTR wants to provide a platform for a student project that aims to raise awareness of Bi Visibility Day. Gender and Diversity student Christine Panzram documented over 100 stories of bisexual+ Lady Gaga fans to show the importance of representation and the impact that LGBTQ+ icon Lady Gaga had on their lives. Here, she writes about her project.

Today, on September 23rd, we celebrate Bi Visibility Day, also known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day or Bi Pride Day. The day was first created by three American bisexual activists - Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur - in 1999. It aims to provide a platform to the bisexual community to bring global attention and visibility to the social, economic and cultural prejudices and challenges faced by bisexual people, as well as celebrate bisexual history, community and culture.

Bisexuality, which is most commonly defined as experiencing attraction to more than one gender, is often invisible in a world shaped by binaries, including the gay-straight binary, and thus often overlooked. This is especially problematic as bisexuals make up the largest group within the LGBTQ+ community but are the least funded and have the highest health disparities among lesbians, gay men and straight people, according to studies published by the Human Rights Campaign.

One of the reasons there are many misconceptions about bisexuality and the bisexual community is bisexual erasure, which is defined as the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or re-explain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, the news media, and other primary sources. This includes reporting on bisexual figures in history and present, and ignoring their bisexuality or even mislabeling them as either gay, lesbian or straight.

About my Project

One person in the public eye, who falls victim to bisexual erasure time and again, is Lady Gaga. As a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and an out bisexual woman since the beginning of her career in 2008, she is arguably one of the biggest and most famous LGBTQ+ icons of our generation. Yet, partly due to the fact that she has not been in a public relationship with a woman, her bisexuality is ignored constantly, and she is left out of articles and books celebrating queer and even bisexual people, despite being very open about her attraction to women over the years. Her bisexuality has been questioned and objectified in interviews ever since she came out before her first album was even released worldwide, to the point where she avoided talking about it altogether as to not seem attention-seeking.

However, in 2013, she addressed the topic openly when speaking at an event hosted by Ampya in Germany, saying, "It is not a lie that I am bisexual and that I like women and anyone that wants to twist this into, 'she says she's bisexual for marketing', this is a f-cking lie. This is who I am, who I've always been."

As a bisexual Little Monster, a Lady Gaga fan, myself, the biphobia and prejudice she has faced throughout her career has been heartbreaking to witness. It also taught me a lot about how biphobia operates and that her visibility as a bisexual woman is important to the bisexual community because representation matters. Through conversations with other bisexual fans, I realized how much she has impacted not just her gay fans, whom she is commonly known for, but her bisexual fans, too.

So when thinking of what I could do to celebrate this year's Bi Visibility Day, I came up with a little project to lift and celebrate the voices of bisexual+ Little Monsters and the impact Lady Gaga, and her being openly bi, has had on them. I simply sent out a Tweet asking anyone who is bisexual+, including pansexuals, unlabeled people, etc., and loves Lady Gaga to reply, which garnered more than 200 responses. After messaging each one of them, I got to document over 100 stories of bisexual+ fans that I put together in a digital book for everyone to read today on Bi Visibility Day.

My aim was to show that for one, that Lady Gaga has had and continues to have a big impact on bisexual youth that can not be erased and should not be ignored. And also that her fans aren't just gay men, but that we are very diverse and that the voices and struggles of bisexual+ fans and the bisexual community as a whole matter. My hope is that through reading these stories, people of all orientations and gender identities can learn something about bisexual experiences and why it is important to listen to us and take our struggles seriously.

Because while, yes, this particular book only focuses on bisexual+ fans of Lady Gaga, these stories and experiences are universal and most bisexual+ people will likely be able to find themselves reflected in them. Even Lady Gaga's own experiences with biphobia are something many bisexuals can relate to and thus I hope for this to be a vehicle not just to share stories but to also spread awareness and educate.

I am very grateful to every person who contributed to the book and strongly encourage everyone to give it a read, even if just a few pages. Every bisexual person reading this, I hope you feel seen today and I hope that you know that you are valid, no matter what people try to tell you or what preferences or leanings you have. You are all beautiful and deserve to be seen and heard.

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