Buzzfeed usually produces progressive content, which is why it was so disappointing to see one call out from the publication avoid using the words “bi”, “bisexual” and “biromantic” at any point. There was also complete erasure of pan people. Buzzfeed has issued a call out for straight women who have hooked up with other women to get in touch.
If this had been worded better, it could have been insightful. It could have focused upon why so many women are so reluctant to come out as bi or pan (hint: it’s bi/panphobia). It is nothing like that, however. It is simply a call for people to talk about their experiencing hooking up.
There’s a long history of the media contributing to bi and pan erasure. From being talked about as “mostly straight” to bi/pan people either be lumped as gay or straight, there’s a huge reluctance to actually just acknowledge bi and pan identities. Research shows that bi people are significantly less likely than gay people to come out. This has a huge impact on being able to obtain appropriate support services and/or healthcare, social isolation, as well as mental health.
“There’s a long history of the media contributing to bi and pan erasure”
If we lived in a society where bi and pan people were welcomed, and their identities were acknowledged, then the situation may well be different. As it is, bi and pan people are pushed to the side unless they “pick a team” and almost every term imaginable is used, instead of just saying “bi” or “pan”.
Some women who have engaged in same-gender romantic and/or sexual activity, will identify as straight. That’s okay. People are free to use the labels that feel right for them. Nobody is trying to force a label on anyone. The point is that such prevalent erasure risks terrifying people out of acknowledging who they are and identifying with their community. Labels matter, and they can help us feel connected. By erasing bi and pan identities, we also skip over all of the specific issues that bi and pan people face in society.
Neither “bi” nor “pan” should be treated as dirty words. We’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going away. It’s about time the media did its research and started reporting accurately on GRSD identities. The consequences if they don’t are a culture of silence for the bi and pan communities.
It would be great if Buzzfeed could address this. The piece might still remain as a call out aimed specifically at straight women, but it could also be updated to state why this choice was made and also recognise bi and pan people exist. Media outlets rarely have to change much. They just need to show they understand that bi and pan people exist, and that they’re sensitive to erasure and the reasons behind it.