Lani Ka’ahumanu came out as a lesbian in the 1970s after divorcing her husband, the father of her two children. A few years later, she came out again—this time as bisexual.
Ka’ahumanu became a trailblazing activist and went on to help found what would become BiNet USA, the first nationwide organization for bisexual rights. With Loraine Hutchins, she edited the groundbreaking anthology Bi Any Other Name, and she laid the foundation for future generations of bisexuals—like me—to be out and proud members of the LGBTQ community. And she did it all while co-parenting her two children.
So why is it that today, almost 40 years after Ka’ahumanu came out, it’s still so uncommon to hear the words “bisexual” and “parent” in the same sentence?
Being visibly bisexual in a culture that has ingrained biphobia on the deepest level is an ongoing challenge, a boulder we constantly have to roll back up the hill. Doing it while parenting—in the face of pernicious stereotypes about bisexuality that, if true, would make it practically impossible to be a good parent—is pushing the boulder up the hill while wearing roller skates.
Bisexual activists say that while societal acceptance is still difficult for gay and lesbian parents, their representation far outpaces what bi parents have—we can all name at least a handful of gay and lesbian parents in pop culture, but the only bisexual mom I can think of on TV is Callie from Grey’s Anatomy. Faith Cheltenham, longtime bi activist and former president of BiNet USA, said, “As far as I know, there are no published books for parents like myself to explain their bisexuality to their kids. There are no children’s books for bi kids to learn about being bi.” Indeed, a 2014 articleby J. Epstein in the Journal of Bisexuality concluded that “bisexuality is either invisible or negatively portrayed in books for younger readers.”
Amy André, co-author of the National LGBTQ Task Force 2007 report “Bisexual Health,” points out that this represents a huge discrepancy, given that out bisexuals outnumber out gays and lesbians. “The vast majority of parents who aren’t heterosexual are bisexual,” she said. (The Williams Institute estimates that bisexuals make up 64 percent of non-heterosexual parents.) “And yet, think about how many resources there are for gay and lesbian parents—not enough, but certainly more than a few. But, for us bi parents, there is literally nothing, as far as I’ve seen.” Read more via Rewire