Issues pertaining to the bisexual community are often under-reported or poorly reported by mainstream and LGBTQ media, leading many people who are bisexual to feel misunderstood, isolated, and depressed. Multiple research studies have shown that people who identify as bisexual are more likely to binge drink, engage in self-harm, and have suicidal thoughts than gay, lesbian, or heterosexual people.
The Williams Institute found that more than half of all non-heterosexual people in the United States identify as bisexual. Despite making up the majority of people who aren't straight, a 2013 Pew Research Center report showed only 28% of bisexuals said most or all of the important people in their lives knew about their sexual orientation, compared to 71% of lesbians and 77% of gay men. Among bisexual men, only 12% said they were out to that degree. At work, only 11% of bisexual people polled by Pew said most of their closest coworkers knew about their sexual orientation, compared to 48% of gay men and 50% of lesbians.
According to the Los Angeles Times, bisexual people reported they "avoided coming out because they didn't want to deal with misconceptions that bisexuals were indecisive or incapable of monogamy — stereotypes that exist among straights, gays and lesbians alike."
By being more cognizant of the realities facing bisexual people and the community's many diversities, and by fairly and accurately reporting on someone who identifies as bisexual, the media can help eliminate some of the misconceptions and damaging stereotypes bisexual people face on a daily basis.
Identify individuals accurately. If someone clearly states that they identify as bisexual, do not identify them as gay, lesbian, or straight instead. Simply because a person is currently in a relationship with someone of the same sex, that does not negate the person's bisexual orientation. Similarly, if a person is in what appears to be a heterosexual relationship, that also does not negate the person's bisexual orientation.
Identify couples accurately. If someone clearly states that they identify as bisexual, do not identify them as gay, lesbian, or straight instead. Simply because a person is currently in a relationship with someone of the same sex, that does not negate the person's bisexual orientation. Similarly, if a person is in what appears to be a heterosexual relationship, that also does not negate the person's bisexual orientation.
It's not a phase or a deception. Do not imply that being bisexual is a phase and that bisexuals are "on their way" to being gay or lesbian. People who self-identify as bisexual are not confused, indecisive, or lying. Studies consistently show that bisexuality and the numerous identities under the bisexual umbrella are distinct sexual orientations and not experimental or transitional stages.
Bisexual does not mean promiscuous. A common stereotype is that bisexual people do not want to be, or cannot be, monogamous. This is simply not true. Bisexual people are just as capable of forming monogamous relationships as heterosexual, gay, and lesbian people. It is inaccurate and harmful to imply that bisexual people are more "promiscuous" than others. Since the 1990s, there has been a tendency to blame "promiscuous" bisexual people for spreading HIV and other diseases to the "general population." This is a blatantly false and harmful stereotype. One's type of relationship or sexual activity do not relate to sexual orientation.
Other terms you might hear: Some people who have the capacity to be attracted to people of any gender may consider themselves part of the bi+ community and/or choose other words to describe their sexual orientation, such as: pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, fluid, queer, and more. Some people prefer to avoid any label at all. Given the lack of understanding of even the word bisexual, it's best to only use alternate words if someone specifically self-identifies that way and asks for their preferred term to be used.