This is Our Community
By Jenna MacKay, MA, Qualitative Researcher, team member of Re:searching for LGBTQ Health and a Master of Social Work candidate at University of Toronto.
Research in both Canada and the US has shown that bisexuals have poorer mental health than heterosexuals, gays and lesbians. Experiences of discrimination towards bisexual people in heterosexual and gay and lesbian communities is stressful. Indeed, bisexual stereotypes and prejudice are all too common.
I am part of a dedicated team of researchers and bisexual community members looking to make a difference. Over the last seven years, our team at CAMH has collaborated with Rainbow Health Ontario and other community partners on projects related to bisexual mental health.
In our interviews with bisexual people we have heard countless stories of how bisexuals have been discriminated against by their friends, family, partners, as well as healthcare and service providers because of their sexuality. One participant shared that when coming out as bisexual to his sister she replied:
“I would prefer it if you were just my gay brother, and not this slutty person who just sleeps with everyone’’
Being discriminated against by someone you love and/or trust is an incredibly hurtful experience and causes significant stress. It can trigger mental health problems or make existing mental health issues worse.
However, we have also heard of extremely positive encounters from bisexual people, affirming how important it is to have loving, respectful and non-judgmental people in their lives who accept them for who they are. These loving relationships keep bisexual people healthy. That is why we made these films.
We created 3 videos that feature bisexual people talking with friends, family and partners about the difference these loving relationships have made in their lives. We also created a video of service providers discussing the importance of bisexual knowledge, sensitivity and cultural competence in healthcare, social services and policy.
These videos are a part of the This is Our Community campaign which aims to provide positive images of bisexuality and encourage individuals to support bisexual people in their communities.
We hope these videos will inspire and encourage people to love and support bisexual people.
You can help us improve bisexual health by sharing these videos with your community. We invite you to screen these videos at upcoming film events, use them in educational settings and workshops, share them on social media, and/or announce them in your newsletter or email lists.
Visit www.bisexualhealth.ca and join us in ending bisexual stigma.