Reporting erases bi presence, community members at executive order signing

When President Obama signed an executive order protecting the federal LGBT workers from employment discrimination, a variety of leaders were there to represent the community at large. However, in the subsequent media coverage, outlets ranging from national news to the blogosphere have explicitly failed to mention not only the bisexual community members who were present, but the executive order's impact on the community, as well.

Though GLAAD reported on the role of bi community leaders on the historic day, bi advocates noted that most coverage from other outlets, including the Washington Post and the LA Times, referred to the executive order as an act for gay and transgender Americans, which is great, but unfortunately failed to recognize the "b" folks as well.

Camille Holthaus, chair of one of the oldest and largest bi advocacy groups known as the Bisexual Organizing Project, responded to the disappointing coverage on her blog:

This week was historic. For the first time a national bi leader was on the podium at the signing of an executive order affecting LGBT people employed by the government. Faith Cheltenham, chair of BiNet USA, stood closest to President Obama and even caged a hug when he turned around and greeted each of the representatives standing behind him. That was pretty great.

What wasn’t great was the coverage that talked about the historic executive order protecting gay and transgender federal employees. raises hand Excuse me…feeling a little erased there! Gary North wrote a great comment about it at this NPR story.

If you know who Faith Chletnham is, then you knew that we had bi representation at the signing. And she was standing with some pretty important people, which gave her great access to continue the ongoing project to get bi awareness training to all the organizations she can. But if you don’t know who she is, you would never know if there was bi representation there or not. In fact, I’m sure most people thought she was a lesbian because that’s what we do. Even a room full of bisexuals gets it when you show photos of two men or two women and ask, what are you seeing?

…Bi erasure is complicated. It is done to us when bisexuals are relabeled as gay, lesbian or straight by the media or historians. It is done to us when headlines, event announcements and “inclusive” pride parades don’t say bisexual. We do it to ourselves whenever we allow someone to assume that we are straight, gay or lesbian.

Read the full post here.