|Dr. Mimi Hoang at LA Pride
I met Dr. Mimi Hoang—psychologist, author, co-founder of the Los Angeles Bi Task Force and the bisexual social group amBi, and self-proclaimed “professional bisexual”—at the Islands Restaurant in Manhattan Beach about a month ago. She’d recently returned from the Bisexual Roundtable at the White House, a meeting with bi leaders from throughout the country. The White House event was the first-ever meeting of its kind, and the proceedings were, for the most part, confidential. Despite the White House’s official silence, bi leaders were ecstatic just to have the audience and the spot on the official schedule.
This lack of a bi voice in the national conversation, up until now, is both confounding and infuriating. Bisexuals make up more than half of the roughly 8 million American LGBT people, but we are out at staggeringly lower rates than gays and lesbians. Bi men and women are four times as likely to have considered suicide than their gay and lesbian counterparts. In one particularly depressing 2003 UC-Davis study, people were asked to rate bi people in comparison to other ethnic, religious, and social groups. Bisexual men and bisexual women ranked only behind IV drug users. More recent studies have shown that these attitudes have not improved much.
I’m bi, I’ve written about it, and I was thrilled to hear what Dr. Hoang had to say. But I still tend not to discuss bi issues loudly in public spaces. I get tired of the questions from strangers, get tired of being told I don’t exist by straight and gay people alike, even eavesdroppers in restaurants. So I chose a table in the corner, away from the bar, ordered some nachos (which I learned is the worst food you can possibly order during an interview), and Dr. Hoang and I talked.