Twitter is a perfect petri dish for mob rule. Something gets tweeted, misunderstood, retweeted, misquoted, the Twitchforks come out and everyone yells to their followers – let’s fight them on their timeline!
This sort of environment makes it easy for people to claim that offensive comments were ‘only a joke’ and that the ‘snowflakes’ are simply whirling themselves into a blizzard.
Unfortunately, the latest Twitter storm involving Boy George is made all the more opaque by the fact that so few people understand what biphobia looks and feels like.
People know what homophobic slurs are. But what are biphobic slurs – what is this ‘biphobia’?
It’s when people call bi people liars, or insinuate that they are, and this is exactly what Boy George did.
The tweet that started it all intimated a lie was being told, you know like ‘saying you’re bisexual’.
He’s since tweeted that bi people are real and that he was only making a joke. It's only banter, you know, that last bastion of British humour.
But it’s hard to smile when this sort of ‘joke’ is such a common one for bi people to hear.
Mental health issues are prevalent in bi people, and it’s no wonder when their very identity is mocked, doubted and ignored in equal measure.
To quote bi role model Evan Rachel Wood, “[Bi] erasure is causing people harm and diminishing self-esteem and putting people in harm’s way.”
We’ve recently held a programme for bi people because being bi means you can face discrimination from both straight people, and the LGBT community, as well as other specific issues, like having to come out to your partner.
We’d love it if people who don’t believe in bi people or biphobia would actually engage with members of the bi community.
We’d love it so that we could explain what being bi is, and isn’t. It isn’t a joke, it isn’t a lie, and it isn’t the gateway to gay.
Most of all we’d love it if people – LGBT or not - would think more carefully about how damaging language can be and understand that being a drop of dissent in an ocean of prejudice is dangerous.